Kettlebell sport or Girevoy Sport (GS) is the traditional Russian sport of Kettlebell lifting, and it also happens to be the national sport of Russia. Kettlebell sport evolved from athletic and military circles and slowly spread to the wider population across Europe, before reaching the US. The sport is a highly challenging in terms of strength&endurance, and it is cyclical in nature. The success of lifters depends on technique, flexibility, strength, power, proper breathing patterns, aerobic capacity, stability, and most crucially – the mental strength. Based on the fitness level, an athlete can choose to practice and compete in one of the two lifts:

  • Biathlon (Jerk and Snatch- 2 events)
  • Long cycle (Clean and Jerk)


Biathlon typically requires ace level of fitness as it demands recovery between the 2 lifts of 10 minutes each. So Biathlon consistsof a total of 20 mins of extreme lifting.

1st event is double Jerk which is done continuously with both hands, without keeping the Kettlebells on the floor. Two Kettlebells are grasped in each arm at shoulder level and stabilized in the ‘rack position’, and then jerked above the head. An Athlete has to perform the lift non-stop for 10 mins.

Snatch is the 2nd event which follows after a break of 30 mins. In this event a single Kettlebell is swung using one hand. In a single motion, the bell travels from the gap in between the knees and up above the head. An athlete is allowed to switch hands only once during the 10 mins session without keeping the bells on the floor.

Long Cycle

It is also called clean and jerk. In LC an athlete has to clean 2 bells on iliac crest (hip bone) and jerk them over the head. He has to continue the session for 10 mins without keeping the bells down.

Both lifts requires a very well-conditioned body in order to survive a 10 mins lifting session. Strength and cardio workout contribute equally to the prep phase. An athlete divides the training in volume based and intensity based training, in which he trains for 1 rep max and also uses sub-maximal weight. The athlete trains for repetitive reps to improve muscular endurance.

Kettlebell competitions are being held in Europe and USA since many years, and the western countries have very well trained athletes. There are 2 categories in lifting, professional and amateur.

A Prof Male lifts 2x32kgs Kettlebells for biathlon or long cycle, and an Amateur male lifts 2x24kgs Kettlebells.
Female lifters usually use single Kettlebell instead of two. In the recent years, female lifters from western countries have also started using double Kettlebells.

In Asian countries including India, the sport is still in its growth stage, hence a ‘Professional’ category for a male athlete is ascertained at 2x24kgs for any lift and for an ‘Amateur’ category it is 2x16kgs.
For professional female athletes,16kgswould be the weight for lifting, and an amateur female athlete would lift anywhere between 8 to 12kg. The participation of an athlete in Kettlebell sport depends on the weight category. An athlete weighing light but lifting same weight as an athlete weighing heavier, definitely has advantage. Such an athlete has good fitness & conditioning level and can achieve the sport ranks of Kettlebell faster than the athlete weighing more.

Ranking system or rank tables differ in various organizations. IUKL, Ketacademy, WKC, IGSF, IKSFA, IKFF have their own ranking tables and athletes plan to achieve rank 3/ 2/ 1 / CMS (Candidate for master of sports)/ MS (Master of sports) / MSIC (Master of sports International class) / HMS (Honorary Master of Sports). HMS is the TOP rank in Kettlebell sport and it takes 16-20 years of Kettlebell lifting to reach this position. There are only a handful of HMS in the world, most of whom are Russian athletes. Lifters who accomplish this level of mastery are truly among the best in the best. They are the champions, having very high skill set and the best fitness conditioning. Most often they are the record holders of Kettlebell sport.

There is no age limit to practice Kettlebell sport, and based on one’s current fitness level, one can decide to compete by preparing within a timeframe of 1 year. Kettlebell sport is cyclic in nature and requires thorough practicewhich goes beyond 2 to 3 months, in order to bring about a transformation. Cardiovascular conditioning drops even if you break the training for 8-10 days. The sport has seen participation from some athletes who are 55 or even 60 years old. It is all about practice, lifting and effective recovery to succeed in Kettlebell sport.

In India Kettlebell sport is growing and with good practice and consistency, the country would be ready with good athlete within 2–3 years for international competitions.

EKFA organization is affiliated to IUKL (International Union of Kettlebell Lifting) and promotes Kettlebell sport on national scale in India. We organize competitions in 8 Indian cities with an aim to develop and promote Kettlebell lifting sport. Kettlebell is speculated to be in Olympics in future and I am confident to see Indian Kettlebell athletes competing & representing India and making their mark felt at international level.

-Parag Mhetre, CMS World Bronze Medalist