Kettlebell Styles: Hardstyle, Sport, CrossFit, and Juggling

Confused about the different styles of kettlebell training? Many people assume that the way they first learned is the only way, and have a lot of questions when they find out that there are distinct and very different training modalities.

This article will show you what the different styles are and where they come from, how the moves are done differently, and why these styles are different based on what goals they’re trying to accomplish.

Then you can decide for yourself which style is right for you.

So let’s start with the style that’s best known in the West.

Hardstyle: definition and origins

Hardstyle is a style of kettlebell training that emphasises power and tension. It’s called “hard” not because it’s more difficult than, for example, training for kettlebell sport competition, but because of the resemblance to and derivation from the “hard” martial arts.

Origins

The credit for bringing kettlebells to the West is often given to Pavel Tsatsouline, who published an article in 1998 entitled Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettlebell Lifting, and other Russian Pastimes in MILO, an American strength training magazine.1 He went on to start the RKC – a school of kettlebell training – in 2001 in collaboration with Dragon Door publishing.2 RKC stands for Russian Kettlebell Challenge, or Certification3. In 2012, Pavel left the RKC and started StrongFirst, an organisation that also promotes Hardstyle calisthenics, barbell, and kettlebell training.4

What is Hardstyle?

This public quote from the RKC manual (which you have to be certified by them to access5) illuminates the origins of Hardstyle kettlebell training:

“RKC is a “hard style” of kettlebell training born in the spec ops of the Soviet Union. In the 1970s select units adopted a karate-based style of hand-to-hand combat. The hard style of kettlebell training evolved in the 1980s to support the hard style of fighting.”6

Hardstyle kettlebell training and certain martial arts share the concept of kime,7 “focusing energy”, expressed in the snap of a well executed swing or punch.8 The fact that this style was born from fighting serves to differentiate it from the other styles, as we shall see.

Hidetaka Nishiyama Sensei. Image from http://mbkarateandyoga.com/

Hidetaka Nishiyama Sensei. Image from http://mbkarateandyoga.com/

As well as DragonDoor/RKC and StrongFirst, there are now more Hardstyle schools popping up, such as Strength Matters in the UK. In fact, if you’re doing kettlebells and don’t know what style you’re doing, chances are it’s Hardstyle.

Power, tension, and relaxation

Hardstyle distinguishes between ballistic lifts and grinds. Ballistic lifts are the fast lifts such as the swing and the snatch. The grinds are the pushing presses like the Turkish get-up and the military press. The approach to the lifts and the grinds is very different.

For ballistic lifts, there is a balance between periods of explosive effort, such as the powerful forward hip hinge that starts the swing, and relaxation, for example the split second as the kettlebell “floats” at the top of the swing.

I asked Pat Flynn, certified RKC, how this explosive effort feels, and he said “When doing the swing, you should feel as if you’re delivering a punch with your crotch: Wind the hips up, and pop!”

In the grinds, high tension is employed as a deliberate device to increase strength. For example, the phenomenon of “irradiation” is used, where tensing one part of the body is supposed to radiate strength into adjacent parts.9 Applying this to the military press, you might choose to squeeze your free hand into a fist in order to push through sticking points in the lift.

You can also do Hardstyle press-ups like this, for example, by starting at the feet and contracting your muscles all the way up. A Hardstyle press-up thus becomes a whole-body effort of tension, rather than a movement where muscular force is generated in the chest but leaks out through the core and legs.

This tension is advised for all slow (non-ballistic) lifts, even warm-up ones with a lighter weight.

“And yes, this means you’ll be using more tightness than necessary to actually lift the weight on your early warm-up sets. And while this is a disaster for an endurance feat—for strength it is the way forward.” (Andy Bolton10)

The Turkish Get Up sequence

The Turkish Get Up sequence

Although the generation of tension is a defining point, it’s not pursued blindly or at all costs. The primary focus is still the actual lift and the skills to do it properly. Master RKC Andrew Read told me that “everyone thinks hardstyle means maximal tension. It doesn’t. It means appropriate tension to make the body safe and activate the muscles appropriately. Don’t make the mistake of turning hardstyle into uglystyle, with the body as tensed as possible at all stages during the movement.”

Indeed, the application of sudden power or kime is only possible when balanced with relaxation – good luck snapping out a really powerful punch without first mastering relaxation to take the brakes off. As Geoff Neupert puts it: “Too much unnecessary tension and you run out of energy; too much relaxation and you run the risk of damaging joint structures. And both are used simultaneously in different parts of the body during different portions of each lift – again, the perfect blend of the two.”11

Breathing is used in Hardstyle specifically to increase strength and power. The exact recommended breathing pattern depends on the exercise, but often the breath is held with the lungs mostly but not completely full for sections of the movement, and inhalation is through the nose. The exhale is done with force and for a short duration, and “should optimally be timed with the moment of highest demand in power” (Florian Kiendl12).

Overall, you can say that Hardstyle kettlebell training promotes “power production over power conservation” (Brett Jones13). Even when longer, more endurance-style sequences are trained, such as the “snatch test”, which is required of RKC instructors, it is at a fast pace for the volume – 100 snatches in 5 minutes14 – compared with Girevoy Sport, where the snatch events last 10 minutes, forcing the competitors to conserve power.

Hardstyle kettlebell design

The look and design of the kettlebells themselves are also different for different styles. A Hardstyle kettlebell is usually made of cast iron, and has a relatively large, flared handle, which makes the bell suitable for both one and two-handed moves. The bell can also be more easily gripped by the handle for upside-down moves such as the Bottom-Up Press, which rely on and develop grip strength and shoulder stability.15

Hardstyle kettlebells

Hardstyle kettlebells

Benefits of Hardstyle kettlebell training

Hardstyle proponents say that this method of kettlebell lifting builds strength, power, and endurance in a short time. They also frequently mention the WTH (What The Hell) effect – meaning, the unexpected benefits of kettlebell training (not necessarily just Hardstyle) as it transfers physically16 or mentally17,18 into other areas of life.

Girevoy Sport (Soft Style)

Girevoy Sport kettlebell training is the style of kettlebell training that prepares an athlete for competitions, which consist of fixed lifts in a certain time. Compared to other styles, Girevoy Sport emphasises endurance, relaxation and smooth technique.

Pavel wasn’t the only exported expert to come from the former USSR to the US in the late 1990s. Valery Fedorenko introduced Girevoy Sport kettlebell lifting to the US in 1999.19

Fedorenko arrived in New York with the express desire to introduce kettlebell lifting to the US. Or as he says, reintroduce, since kettlebells had been used as old-time strongman devices, but had been forgotten about.20

He already had decades of elite level kettlebell experience by that point, having become the first World Champion in the 80kg weight class back in Russia. He went on to found the World Kettlebell Club21 and the American Kettlebell Club.22

Now, numerous kettlebell sport organisations have sprung up across America, Europe, and other places, and national and international tournaments are organised.23

A post shared by Darya Mashkova (@mashkovadarya) on

Sport and fitness

Girevoy Sport, or GS as it is often abbreviated, is defined by competing.

There are strict rules, which differ slightly from organisation to organisation. Briefly, the events in Girevoy Sport competitions are the jerk, snatch, and long cycle (clean and jerk). The jerk and the snatch are usually combined into one event called the Biathlon. For each event, the athlete has ten minutes to complete the lift as many times as possible, without putting the kettlebell down.24 There are only three weights of kettlebell allowed in traditional competition: 16kg, 24kg, and 32kg.25

The regulation of Girevoy Sport that makes competition possible also makes world records inevitable. Unlike, say, competitive weightlifting, an amateur competitor can lift the same weights in the same event as the best in the world – the difference is only how many reps they can do in the same time. Thus, measuring oneself very directly against a standard and against one’s peers can become a powerful motivating factor and source of accomplishment.

Russian Girevoy Sport competitor. Photo from mil.ru

Russian Girevoy Sport competitor. Photo from mil.ru

This points to one difference between Hardstyle and Fluid style, as Girevoy is sometimes known. In the former, the locus of evaluation is almost always internal. No-one knows if you’re really using your maximum explosive power, or tensing with full effort, in a particular lift or set except you, even if they were to watch you training. External markers, like whether you can move up to a heavier bell for a lift, do exist but are few and far between. In Kettlebell Sport training, you count reps and measure time. You’re always aware of how your performance measures up to an external evaluation, and ultimately to how everyone else measures up. Without saying one is better than the other, this difference in character might go some way to explaining why people often identify so strongly with one methodology or the other.

Strength endurance and relaxation

If Hardstyle is about power, Kettlebell Sport is about strength endurance. As Sergei Rudnev, MCMK, many times champion in Russia and worldwide and trainer of the first category, told us, “In powerlifting, the defining factor is strength; in weightlifting, strength and speed. Girevoy Sport is first among strength sports, in my opinion, because only Girevoy Sport defines that quality so necessary for life: strength-endurance.”26

To enable such endurance, there are no “grinds”, no moves where you aim for total tension. Because of the necessity for relaxation, the way of breathing in Girevoy Sport is used not only to fuel performance with oxygen, but also to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and thereby prevent the pulse from getting too high. Breaths are not compressed as in Hardstyle. Thierry Sanchez explains: “Kettlebell Sport requires the ability to breathe smoothly and as relaxed as possible to improve performance. Anatomic breathing relies on timing the breathing cycles with each phase of the lifts to make the most of the elasticity of the rib cage.”27

In terms of the three energy systems, the focus of Girevoy Sport training, given a certain amount of pure strength has been attained, is more on the aerobic system, as compared to Hardstyle’s focus on the alactic system. Supplementary training, therefore, is more likely to be an aerobic exercise such as swimming or running28 than a powerlifting modality like heavy barbells.

Unlike Hardstyle sessions, which can be done up to once a day,29 GS trainees usually alternate some pattern of lifting days with rest days, and on those lifting days, do shorter or split sets: “It’s rare to go the full ten minutes with competition weight and pace in kettlebell sport training as such an intense effort would require an extended period of recovery.” (Chris Doenlen30)

Sports kettlebell design

The Girevoy kettlebell has a specific shape, with handles that go straight down to the bell instead of flaring out. The bells are made of steel, rather than cast iron, and they’re hollow. This allows them all to be the same size, no matter what the weight. The handles are also all the same size, unlike in Hardstyle, where the thickness and length of the handles changes. This consistency means that carefully programmed body mechanics do not have to be re-learned when moving between weights. Sports kettlebells are also colour coded for different weights (e.g. 16kg – yellow; 24kg – green; 32kg – red31), whereas Hardstyle kettlebells are usually variations of black.

Girevoy Sport kettlebells. Photo courtesy of kettlebellkings.com.

Girevoy sport kettlebells. Photo courtesy of kettlebellkings.com.

Benefits of Girevoy Sport kettlebell training

In addition to the competitive aspect, there are other benefits to kettlebell sport training. It’s great for general fitness. The aerobic and metabolic conditioning needed to sustain competition lifts over several minutes is considerable, and carries over to daily life. As conditioning coach Dave Hedges elaborates, “The three biggest factors that make Kettlebell Sport training healthy are the endurance, the mobility and focus on breathing.”32

Since the events are comparatively long, this discipline also develops mental toughness: “A ten minute set of clean & jerks without setting the bells down is something that truly needs to be experienced to be understood.” (Ken Blackburn33).

And lest you think that the “soft” style, as Girevoy Sport is sometimes known, is no good for developing strength, consider that Valery Fedorenko performed a one-handed deadlift of 170kg with no deadlift training, just sport-style snatches and swings.34

Hardstyle vs. Soft Style Breakdown

The main difference in these kettlebell styles is that Hardstyle focusses on generating maximum power, and Girevoy Sport (soft style) is optimised for strength-endurance. The CrossFit kettlebell style is a hybrid of hard and soft elements. The differing techniques for the Hardstyle and Girevoy Sport style kettlebell swing and snatch demonstrate these differences in style perfectly.

Hardstyle kettlebell swing

Here’s a demonstration of the Hardstyle swing:

There are some points to good swing form that are common to both styles:

  • The shoulders are back and down, to protect the shoulders and back.
  • The lower position is a hip hinge, not a squat.
  • At the top of the swing, stand up straight, not leaning backward.

And some points are specific to Hardstyle:

  • Head: The head looks forward the whole way down.
  • Shoulders: The shoulders are square at the bottom of the swing. Some forward movement of the working shoulder is inevitable, but you are supposed to actively pull the working shoulder back.35
  • Knees: On the way down, the knees bend slightly, once, and do not straighten again until you start the hip hinge forwards. The knees do not move further forward than the toes.
  • Toes: The toes, and the whole foot, are firmly planted throughout.
  • Tension: Abs, thighs, and glutes tighten at the top of the swing, as if bracing for a punch.

I asked Brett Jones, StrongFirst Director of Education and Chief SFG, ATC, CSCS, FMS, if he could elaborate on the reasons for the difference in breathing patterns in the swing, and he explained that “StrongFirst or (Hardstyle) kettlebell training utilizes a biomechanical breathing match where a sharp, diaphragmatic inhale is taken into a braced abdomen at the bottom of the swing in order to optimize intra-abdominal pressure and back stabilization. The load in the bottom position of a hardstyle swing can reach upwards of 3 times bodyweight so the biomechanical breathing match is part of safe execution of the Swing or Snatch.”

For more pointers on good form, check out this quick tutorial by Karen Smith, Master SFG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHn5GQGJLfc

Girevoy Sport style kettlebell swing

The main differences in the soft style are:

  • Head: The head maintains the same angle to the torso, so at the bottom of the swing, you are looking at the floor.
  • Shoulders: As you go down, the torso is twisted so that the working shoulder is significantly lower. The free arm flies behind to compensate.
  • Knees: On the way down, the knees bend more than in a Hardstyle swing, and straighten again at the very bottom. Then they bend and straighten again on the way up.
  • Toes: The toes or the heels can come off the ground slightly at either end of the movement.
  • Tension: As much tension is eliminated as possible.

The video below, by Kseniya Dedyukhina, multiple times world champion in Kettlebell Sport, demonstrates the form for the Girevoy Sport style swing.

Here is my translation of the main points of her commentary:

“When the kettlebell is at the top, I recommend to pull it as close as possible to yourself and bend your arm. This reduces the amplitude of the lift. If you keep your arm straight, it’s a lot of strain on the wrist and forearm on the way up and down [correct technique demonstrated at 1:41, followed by incorrect technique at 1:54-2:08]. Pay attention to the start of the lift. Let the kettlebell stop by itself at the bottom and start to go back; don’t stop it yourself and pull it up abruptly [incorrect technique demonstrated at 2:39-2:57, followed by correct technique 2:58-3:10]. This reduces the strain on the hand, fingers, and forearm muscles. Pay attention to your breathing. Don’t hold your breath. You’ll also notice that the exercise is done with a twist, which works the obliques and back muscles.”

And here is a video analysis of the Kettlebell Sport swing, which makes several points of technique clear:

Hardstyle kettlebell snatch

The snatch begins with a swing, so all the differences for the swing form also apply to the snatch. In addition, the Hardstyle snatch has some special features:

  • As it rises, the kettlebell is pulled in towards the shoulder (the “high pull”).
  • The bell is pulled down out of the top position.
  • From the lockout, the kettlebell rotates in a horizontal plane to come down again. It’s more accurate to say the hand is moved around the bell, as on the way up.

Here’s a tutorial video about how to do the Hardstyle snatch:

Girevoy Sport style kettlebell snatch

The Girevoy Sport snatch looks very similar, but has some subtle differences:

  • Instead of the body staying still and the athlete pulling the kettlebell towards the shoulder with a bent arm, the arms stays mostly straight and the athlete leans backwards as the kettlebell is pulled up, then straightens up underneath it.
  • Rather than pulling the bell down, the athlete moves out of the way by leaning backward and lets the kettlebell drop down.
  • From the lockout, the kettlebell rotates in more of a corkscrew motion on the way down.

Here’s a demonstration of Girevoy Sport snatch technique by Kseniya Dedyukhina:

Summary of the differences between hard and soft style

It’s worth noting that although there are general points of form, a good coach will help you to find the technique that’s best for your body type, taking into account your goals, physical condition and any injuries. So even within one style, you can find different high-level athletes performing the same movement with variations. One reason why it’s good not to get too dogmatic.

Nevertheless, now that we’ve seen lots of differences between the two main styles, can we sum it up? Steve Cotter, who started out in the RKC with Pavel Tsatsouline before training Girevoy Sport with Valery Fedorenko and then founding the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF), wrote an interesting critique of Hardstyle lifting including some criticisms on the basis of how the moves are done, and nicely sums up the difference between hard and soft styles on the level of why they’re done:

“One manner of lifting is clearly more economical than the other. The rigid style is useful for caloric expenditure, but its mechanics don’t allow for prolonged work periods. The fluid style adopts the mechanics that allow for greatest sustained output, which is the whole purpose of kettlebell lifting in the context of performance.”36

CrossFit Kettlebell style

CrossFit took to kettlebells early on, enamoured of the huge metabolic demands that whole-body moves like the swing make when performed for even a minute or two. Including kettlebell exercises in a WOD naturally helps to fulfil the main CrossFit goal, which is “maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time”.37

So what style has CrossFit developed?

In 2004, Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, wrote a widely quoted paper The Kettlebell Swing in the CrossFit Journal.38, which shows a clear affinity to Hardstyle: it states that their inspiration came from Pavel Tsatsouline. Two years later, CrossFit asked Jeff Martone to be their Subject Matter Expert for kettlebells39 (Jeff gave me a lot of information about the CrossFit style of kettlebell lifting, and any quotes in this section are his unless otherwise noted). Jeff had worked with Pavel Tsatsouline for four years, until 2005, becoming a senior RKC instructor, and was always looking for ways to increase performance in his trainees. Attracted to Girevoy Sport, he then trained with Valery Fedorenko, and would later train with Sergey Rudnev, Denis Vasilev and other Girevoy Sport masters.

On being asked to develop the CrossFit kettlebell curriculum, Martone immediately told Glassman that he would make the CrossFit kettlebell movements more efficient, meaning, more like Girevoy Sport. This makes sense when you consider that, unlike in a Hardstyle set where the only thing you’re likely to include besides lifting kettlebells is strategic rest, in CrossFit a session of kettlebell movements is embedded in a larger workout that might also include gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, or calisthenics. While you still work (very) hard, it makes no sense to, for example, totally fry your grip on the kettlebells and leave nothing for your pull-ups.

In this way, the CrossFit style became “a hybrid of RKC style and kettlebell sport”. At least officially. CrossFit is so big, though, that when coaches go to learn kettlebells they might end up going to a Hardstyle instructor instead of to one of Martone’s courses, resulting in some variability in style depending on what box you attend.

The CrossFit Kettlebell Instructor’s course lists both grinds (characteristic of Hardstyle) and ballistic moves – including the swing, Turkish get-up, clean, push press, and snatch.40 It used to include an Advanced day that was “basically Girevoy Sport”. The Instructors’ Course, though, was very recently condensed from two days to one day, and now involves more work with the very physically demanding double kettlebell moves.

Let’s look at a couple of moves and how CrossFit has made them its own.

CrossFit style swing

The path that the bell travels on the way up in the CrossFit style swing is no longer the big arc that Glassman described in 2004, but, especially in high level athetes, much more vertical and close to the body. This “competition swing” is faster, and allows the competitor to accumulate more reps, but at the expense of exhausting the grip. For general workouts, the arc is somewhere in the middle.

The big difference, though, in the CrossFit swing (also called the American Swing) is that the kettlebell doesn’t stop at shoulder or eye level, but continues overhead.

This simple difference has generated acres of disagreements.

The CrossFit rationale for the change is twofold. Firstly, they like to “lengthen the line of travel of any movement” on principle.41 Why stop at the shoulder when you can continue to overhead? This argument likens a “traditional” swing to a “half-rep”. One counter to this is that one wouldn’t discriminate against a deadlift, for example, for being a “half-rep”.42 Another is that kettlebells have been swung to shoulder height for a very long time in Russia, and it’s a little presumptuous to think that it just never occurred to anyone to keep going and “complete” the movement.

A CrossFit competitor performing the American Swing

A CrossFit competitor performing the American Swing

The other reason given is that the American swing is harder ­– that you do more work, or exercise more intensively, in a given time period. And this seems to be true. So it really depends what you want out of your training. An RKC practitioner might well say “If power production is the goal then the above head swing doesn’t add any benefit.”43 And a CrossFit practitioner could just reply “Increasing power production isn’t my primary goal; maximum total effort is.” Here, the why is different, so agreement on the how is impossible.

Valery Fedorenko expressed the puzzlement of a traditional Girevoy Sport athlete at the movement like this: “Once the kettlebell has reached my chest, it is floating, why do I need to make it go any higher? I have already engaged my legs, my back, and my shoulders, why do I need to spend more time making it do something that will not give me much in return?”44 But again this isn’t a convincing argument for a CrossFit athlete.

The overhead swing has also been criticised for being more of a shock to the back,45 using a more compromising position for the acromioclavicular and glenohumoral joints,46 liable to cause over-extension of the lumbar spine,47 and “a recipe for disaster and injury” when done without thorough instruction.48 This is a what-level criticism, as in what could happen to you if you train this way, so it can’t be shrugged off by saying that the goals are different. And many CrossFit coaches say explicitly in response that this is indeed a potential problem that can be avoided by making sure that the athlete has mastered the required movement patterns (especially a good hip hinge learned via the Russian swing) and has acquired good thoracic mobility49 before attempting the American swing.

Still it’s probably safer overall, if you want to go overhead, to use one arm and do the snatch. So let’s look at that.

CrossFit snatch

The CrossFit snatch started, of course, as a Hardstyle snatch, and is still sometimes described that way50 – and has gone on to incorporate elements from Girevoy Sport.51  Notably,  as the bell comes out of the overhead position, the lifter leans back slightly. Known as counterbalance, or deflection, this relaxes the lower back and helps keep the kettlebell closer to the body.

The demonstration video below also shows the sports-style double knee bend; the commentary includes the exhortation “not to use strength in pulling the kettlebell down”.

Compared to the CrossFit swing, there is almost no contention surrounding the snatch form. While it has been criticised on the grounds that in some CrossFit competitions, the bell must be put on the ground between each rep, this is actually not the official CrossFit approach.

Juggling style

Kettlebell juggling is a challenging training variation, where the athlete performs a traditional move like a swing or snatch, or a non-traditional movement like swinging the kettlebell behind the body, lets go of the bell, with or without a spin or flip, and catches it again.

When you read “kettlebell juggling”, you probably think of something like this:

Kettlebell juggling in my mind

And some people do train with multiple kettlebells. More common, though, and certainly better to start off with, is a single bell, flipped in a variety of different ways. The bell can be flipped about its horizontal or vertical axis, or at an angle. It can be flipped forwards or backwards, left or right, and caught with the same hand or the other hand.

Jeff Martone, who started teaching hand-to-hand kettlebell drills in 2001, explains that there are different styles within juggling. “The Russians love height and multiple flips, whereas I like to relate everything back to fighting.”

Here’s a good tutorial showing different moves to get started with kettlebell juggling:

Juggling even relatively light kettlebells in this way requires more grip strength, concentration, timing, and athleticism, and can be a very good workout with unexpected benefits. As kettlebell trainer Logan Christopher put it to me, “Too many exercises are done working in just one or two dimensions. One of the reasons I love kettlebell juggling is that it is fully three dimensional – like life! It trains your body to be stronger and more injury proof in many angles and positions.”

Lastly, below is an inspirational demonstration from one of the top Girevoy Sport trainers of what can be achieved with a whole lot of training:

As kettlebell coach Thierry Sanchez told me, “Kettlebell juggling is a fun skill practice that addresses often neglected components of strength and fitness.”
So why not give it a try?

Conclusion

What style you pick really depends on why you want to train kettlebells, and how you enjoy training.

If you want to get more athletic power, consider Hardstyle. If you want fitness and are fine with focussing on just a few moves, or if you want to compete, Girevoy Sport style might be for you. If you do CrossFit, well you know who you are. And if you want to try something different once you’ve mastered the basics, give juggling a try.

I hope you found this description of the different styles useful.

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Train safe, and have fun!

References

Many thanks to everyone who contributed their knowledge to this article. If you want to know more about a particular aspect of kettlebells, please check out the websites and books referenced here.

1. Available to buy at: http://www.ironmind-store.com/The-Pavel-Special-All-14-Pavel-Issues/productinfo/1282-PV/. Snapshot of the article here: http://www.strongfirst.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/pavel-milo-article.jpg

2. According to Pavel’s Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Tsatsouline

3. The instructor qualifications are listed at: http://www.dragondoor.com/instructors/

4. The StrongFirst History page: http://www.strongfirst.com/get-started/about/history/

5. Forum post at: http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/kettlebells-strength-conditioning-forum/142366-rkc-manual.html

6. Article Clarifying Hardstyle by Brett Jones, (at that time Master RKC; now Chief SFG Instructor and Director of Education for StrongFirst): http://www.dragondoor.com/articles/clarifying-hardstyle/

7. Hard style training principles across karate and kettlebells, by Reneta Music, http://www.strongfirst.com/focus-kime-and-the-hard-style-swing/

8. Dr. Lucio Maurino, What is “Kime”? Dr. Lucio Maurino (World Karate Champion) Explains & Demonstrates, http://www.karatebyjesse.com/kime/

9. The “Law of Irradiation”, in Power To The People! : Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American, 1999, ISBN 978-0938045199

10. Andy Bolton, 4 Tips for Getting Tight and Instant Strength Gains, http://www.strongfirst.com/the-secret-to-instant-strength-gains/

11. Geoff Neupert, What is the RKC System?: http://www.dragondoor.com/articles/what-is-the-rkc-system/

12. Florian Kiendl, HardStyle Breathing: On and Off: https://rkcblog.dragondoor.com/hardstyle-breathing-on-and-off/

13. Brett Jones, op. cit.

14. RKC certification requirements, including the Snatch Test: http://www.dragondoor.com/workshops/russian_kettlebell_challenge_certification_requirements/

15. Max Shank, A Quick Lesson in Balanced Strength Training Programs, http://www.russiankettlebells.com/a_quick_lesson_in_balanced_strength_training_programs/

16. Janelle Pica, Kettlebells for Your Barbell Deadlift: The “WHAT THE HELL?!” Effect: http://janellepica.com/kettlebells-for-your-barbell-deadlift-the-what-the-hell-effect/

17. “I’m much more confident now, especially when addressing crowds.” https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/what-wth-effects-have-you-experienced-from-s-s-kettlebell-training-in-general.7114/

18. “I got more patient and consistent – in everything.” – https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/what-wth-effects-have-you-experienced-from-s-s-kettlebell-training-in-general.7114/page-2

19. “My most important achievement was realizing my goal of coming to the USA in 1999 and bringing the kettlebells to this country.” Valery Fedorenko Interview: http://ickbgirls.com/2010/02/valery-fedorenko-interview/

20. Video, Who introduced Kettlebells to America?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jupw0_GZ5OA

21. The World Kettlebell club is listed as an international organisation here: http://www.girevik-online.com/international-kettlebell-organizations/wkc. However, its own websites are unavailable at the time of writing: http://worldkettlebellclub.com/ and http://www.worldkettlebellnews.com/.

22. The American Kettlebell club appears to only have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanKettlebellClub/

23. See for example events in Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Indonesia, India, and Russia in 2016 listed at: http://www.girevik-online.com/

24. What is Kettlebell Sport / Girevoy Sport or GS?: http://www.aiklf.com/what-is-kettlebell-sport-girevoy-sport-or-gs/

25. All-Russian Federation of Kettlebell Lifting: http://www.vfgs.ru/prodaja-giri

26. Sergei Rudnev, by email, courtesy of Mikhail Marshak, translated by the author. Sergei writes at: http://girevoy-sport.ru/

27. Thierry Sanchez, Breathing patterns for Kettlebell Sport, https://thierrysanchez.com/kettlebell-sport-breathing/

28. “Endurance exercises are a must. It’s good to run three times a week, ideally five kilometres over rough ground.” in Training Methods of Girevoy Sport. Quote translated from Russian by the author. Original article at: http://www.giri24.ru/metodika-trenirovok-po-girevomu-spor/

29. Training every day is a central premise of Kettlebell Simple and Sinister, ISBN 978-0989892407, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kettlebell-Simple-Sinister-Pavel-Tsatsouline/dp/0989892409

30. Chris Doenlen, An Introduction To Kettlebell Sport Training Methodologies, http://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/an-introduction-to-kettlebell-sport-training-methodologies

31. There are more colours if you include non-competition weights. See https://blog.kettlebellkings.com/kettlebell-color-coding

32. Dave Hedges, Is specialising in kettlebell sport a bad thing?: http://wg-fit.com/wp/blog/is-specialising-in-kettlebell-sport-a-bad-thing/

33. Ken Blackburn, Interview With Ken Blackburn: Top Kettlebell Instructor And American Record Holder In The Jerk And Chair Press: http://mikemahler.com/articles-videos/kettlebell-training/interview-with-ken-blackburn-top-kettlebell-instructor-and-american-record-holder-in-the-jerk-and-chair-press

34. Video, VF Workout 92 – Snatch (w/Ballistic Discussion), https://youtu.be/knseR51kUow?t=59s

35. Video: One-arm swing correction with Pavel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X58ZHV3og2s

36. Steve Cotter, A Performance-Based Comparison of Kettlebell Methods, CrossFit Journal Issue 59 – July 2007, also available here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/35903860/steve-cotter-crossfit-journal#

37. What is CrossFit? https://crossfit.com/what-is-crossfit

38. Greg Glassman, The Kettlebell Swing, first published in CrossFit Journal Issue 25, September 2004: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/25_04_kettlebell_swing_Rev_07_2012.pdf

39. Jeff Martone – Subject Matter Expert for CrossFit Kettlebell, http://www.crossfitkettlebell.com/staff/

40. CrossFit Specialty Course: Kettlebell, https://training.crossfit.com/kettlebell

41. Greg Glassman, op cit

42. Patrick McCarty, Why CrossFit Will Never Just Cool It With The American Swing, https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/why-crossfit-will-never-just-cool-it-with-the-american-swing

43. Danny Sawaya, Why I choose the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing over the American Swing, http://tucsonkettlebell.com/?p=228

44. Valery Fedorenko, interview for https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/interview-with-valery-fedorenko-founder-of-the-world-kettlebell-club

45. Valery Fedorenko, op cit

46. Scott Iardella, Debating the Kettlebell Swing: the Russian Swing vs the American Swing, http://rdellatraining.com/debating-the-kettlebell-swing-the-russian-swing-vs-the-american-swing

47. C.J. Martin, The Great Kettlebell Swing Debate: http://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/the-great-kettlebell-swing-debate/

48. Taco Fleur, The American Kettlebell Swing: Why You Should Never Do It, http://www.cavemantraining.com/caveman-kettlebells/the-american-kettlebell-swing-why-you-should-never-do-it/

49. The Eternal Kettlebell Swing Question, http://crossfitironborough.com/eternal-kettlebell-swing-question/

50. Rachel Sims Baker, Kettlebell Snatch Basics By Coach Rachel, http://westlakecrossfit.com/blog/kettlebell-snatch-basics-by-coach-rachel/

51. Jeff Martone, video The CrossFit kettlebell trainers’ course, at The Kettlebell Snatch, http://journal.crossfit.com/2012/10/martone-kb-snatch.tpl

 

Paul
Founder, Personal Trainers London Ltd. 

A lifelong fitness enthusiast, Paul has a special interest in nutrition and marketing as it applies to personal training.

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