Voropayev V I
In recent years interest in one of the national types of sport — Kettlebell
lifting has increased significantly. The number engaged in organizing groups
and sections-in the physical culture and state-farm collectives, schools,
industries and the armed-forces, have increased. Many competitions, of
different scale, are being held. They are becoming more wide-spread.
However, along with the great number of enthusiasts of this type of sport
there are people who consider it an antiquated and ineffective means of
physical education. Over a period of several years we researched kettlebell
lifting as an effective means of physical education.
It is known that if physical exercise lacks two fundamental qualities –
accessibility and effectiveness, it loses its value as a means of physical
education. We attempted to analyze kettlebell lifting in this-light.
Accessibility implies the following:
1. The technique of the exercise is relatively simple.
There are three exercises in Kettlebell lifting competition: press one
kettlebell, clean and jerk two kettlebells and snatch one kettlebell. These
are cyclic exercises with comparatively small weights. They are mastered
rather quickly since there is no non-support phase (as in weightlifting) or
complex movement of the athlete (as in gymnastics and acrobatics).
Although the general center of mass shifts, it is identical in each phase of
the exercise. It has been demonstrated in practice that an athlete of average
physical development can acquire the technique of the Kettlebell triathlon in
4-6 months. This enables one to devote more time to the development of
physical qualities per se.
2. The Ability to train Individually or in Groups.
The best form of training organization is the study group. However, working
aboard a ship, at a field-camp, working shifts and many other occupations do
not permit one to train in a group; but one must train periodically with an
experienced coach, who controls the training plan. Training alone with
kettlebells does not require a sport hall or large area. One can lift
kettlebells in practically any place which has about 4-5 sq m of free space.
3. The Simplicity of the Training Equipment.
The training equipment for Kettlebell lifting is the least difficult to
obtain in comparison with many other sports. The training and competition
costumes are trunks, vest and any athletic shoes. It should be pointed out
that a kettlebell is a durable piece of equipment. Kettlebell practice is not
limited by large exploitation. This gives Kettlebell lifting a significant
advantage over many others, which require a large expenditure on materials
Everything that concerns training materials, of course, should be considered
somewhat more broadly. The Kettlebell lifter should use barbells, run, throw,
do flexibility exercises and take part in skiing and other sports that
require additional training equipment. This is also true for other types of
sports. Thus, track and field athletes lift weights, exercise with medicine
balls, play different sport games, lift kettlebells and do gymnastics.
Therefore, when one speaks of obtaining training equipment, one has to bear
in mind that this is in reference only to the equipment needed for this one
4. Small Risk of Injury.
Studies of the Kettlebell triathlon indicate the exercises are not dangerous.
These exercises are not associated with great risk when correctly executed.
Tearing of the skin on the palm of the hands due to the improper preparation
of the apparatus (the handle of the kettlebell should be smooth, carefully
polished and rust-free) is the most common injury. This type of injury can
occur even with a smooth, polished kettlebell, but this happens after a lot
of tearing in workouts, when the hands are tired. Consequently, the type of
injury associated with Kettlebell lifting is not due to the nature of the
sport itself, but to outside factors, which can be avoided.
5. The wide age-range of Participants.
The value of any means of physical education increases considerably if it can
be utilized by different age groups. As a means of physical education,
kettlebell lifting has such value. Although the age-range of kettlebell
lifters at present has not been fully researched; practice has shown, that
the ages of the participants varies over a wide range. The average age of
the. competitors at the 1980 regional tournament in Lipetsk was 26 years. The
oldest competitor was 49 and the youngest 16 years old. At the 1981 republic
tournament in Kazan, the mean age was 25.5 years. The oldest competitor was
48 and the youngest was 15 years old. At the moment, the move to expand the
age limits of the participants is one of the problems in athletics. In many
types of sports, athletes who begin at 16-17 years of age are considered to
have no prospects, and competitions in some sports are converted to
Extracts from Bud Charniga’s translations of the 1984 Russian Weightlifting
Yearbook (obtainable from www.dynamic-eleiko.com).
Kettlebell lifting requires two physical qualities: strength and endurance,
the combination of which produces a new quality- strength-endurance.
Flexibility, coordination and speed are qualities that are not involved in
kettlebell lifting; one should understand however, that kettlebell lifting is
unlike gymnastics, acrobatics, figure skating and many other sports.
As is known, strength and endurance develop and are perfected over a rather
wide age-range, therefore, results in kettlebell lifting can increase over a
longer period of time and over a wider age-range.
Let’s look at the effectiveness, or in other words, the training results of
kettlebell workouts. If a means of physical education can have all of the
aforementioned positive qualities, but its training-effect is low and it does
not exert a strong influence on the body, then on the whole, the value of
such a means will be low.
One can determine the influence of various means of physical education by
testing the athletes and comparing the test results during workouts with
different types of exercises.
We studied (at the Voronezhsky Farming Institute) the influence of kettlebell
lifting on the development of fundamental physical qualities over several
years. Based on the results of the first control tests: 1,000 metre
cross-country, 100 metre run, pull-ups, standing long-jump; three study
groups were formed from the students who took part two experimental (19 men)
and one control (21 men), of equivalent capabilities. We obtained the
following data. The initial mean results in the 1000 metre cross-country, was
3 min 48 sec for the experimental groups and 3 min 45 sec for the control
group. At the end of the first year of training the results were:
experimental groups 3 min 11 sec; the control group 3 min 13 sec. After two
years of training the results were: experimental groups 3 min 2 sec; the
control group 3 min 9 sec.
The pull-up results changed in the following way. The initial mean result
over a year (in the experimental groups — 6.3 times and 6.8 times in the
control group) increased to 8.8 in the experimental groups and to 8.38 in the
control group. By the end of the second year of study the experimental
group’s results increased to 9.8 times and the control group to 9.25 times.
The standing long jump dynamics were as follows. The initial mean in the
experimental groups was 204 cm and 203.7 cm in the control group. This
increased to 211.2 cm after one year of sessions in the experimental groups
and to 207.2 cm in the control group. At the end of the second year of
training these figures increased to 213.3 cm and 210.3 cm respectively.
The results of the 100 metre tests were as follows. In the experimental
groups the initial mean result was 14.4 sec; after the first year of training
it improved to 13.62 sec and after the second to 13.44 sec. Improvement in
the control group was somewhat slower. The initial result was 14.37 sec.
After the first year of training the mean result was 13.69 sec and after the
second year 13.48 sec.
The results of the experimental groups were higher than those of the control
group in all of the tests. The absolute improvements in the tests were: 100
metre run– Kettlebell lifters, 0.96 sec; control group, 0.86 sec; in the
cross-country –experimental groups, 0.46 sec and 0.36 sec in the control
group; in the standing long jump 9.3 cm and 6.6 cm respectively; in pull-ups
3.59 times for the kettlebell lifters and 2.45 times for the control group.
As is known, the Physical Work Capacity PWC170 test [see Siff MC,
"Supertraining" for details] is an important indicator of an athlete’s
general _physical work-capacity. Athletes who participate in cyclic types of
sports usually have the highest PWC170 scores. Kettlebell exercises are
cyclic, therefore we assumed that the work-capacity of kettlebell lifters is
We studied .22 athletes who were either master of sport or Class I. The
PWC170 fluctuated in the range of 1180 to 1622 Kg M/min and the group mean
was 1486 Kg M/min. The relative PWC170 was 19.5 Kg M/min per kilo of
So, kettlebell lifting, is quite suitable as a means of physical education
for a wide range of sports. The appropriateness of kettlebell lifting is
associated with the possibility of individual workouts, the technical
simplicity of the exercises, the ease of obtaining equipment, and the
possibility of training and competing with people of different ages.
Kettlebell lifting develops basic physical qualities and increases physical
work capacity. All of these lead one to consider kettlebell lifting an
effective means of physical education.
For the rest of the article, see 1984 Weightlifting Yearbook."