The Evolution of Kettlebell Lifting in America

We're proud to announce the establishment of the East Coast Kettlebell Club, endorsed by the American Kettlebell Club, and staffed by AKC coaches Mike Stefano and Ashley Hughes. GO TO: >> EAST COAST KETTLEBELL CLUB WEBSITE

Kettlebell Legend
In days of old, Russian strongmen were called Bogatir, or extremely strong and honorable men. Whether myth or fairytale, they tell of the super strength and power of these Russian folk heroes. Bogatirs, honored for their goodness, used their powers against evil. It's said Bogatirs were known to train with kettlebells. There is even some speculation that kettlebells were used by ancient Greek athletes and gladiators thousands of years ago.

Kettlebell History
In 1948 Kettlebell Lifting, as a modern day sport, came into its own, becoming Russia's official national sport. Similar to Olympic weight lifting, kettlebell lifting competitions featured three events, the Jerk, the Clean and Jerk (also known as Long Cycle), and the Snatch. But that's where any similarity ends.

In 1970's kettlebells became part of the United All State Sport Association of USSR, but still there were no official set of rules or standards. In 1985 a committee of kettlebell sport was organized. Finally, national rules, regulations, weight categories were set up. In November of that same year the first National Championship took place in Lipetsk, Russia.

Kettlebells In the USA
When first introduced in the United States in the year 2000, kettlebell lifting made a wrong turn. Americans, always hungry for a new fad, were thought not to possess the discipline and fortitude to embrace the sport in its purest form of extended timed sets (10 minutes and more) for high repetitions (200 or more).

What pervaded this country over the last seven or eight years, and until the arrival of world champion kettlebell lifter and record holder, Valery Fedorenko and his American Kettlebell Club, was NOT kettlebell lifting. Marketing genius should not be confused with kettlebell lifting expertise. Even the design of the kettlebell itself was changed to accommodate, bastardized into something thought to be more commercially acceptable.

Sadly, gone were the actual principles and techniques developed over decades by Russian masters, replaced with body builder, strong man movements that have no place in genuine kettlebell fitness or sport. In a bold move to popularize kettlebell lifting in the US, endless examples of the benefits of kettlebell training were plastered across an assembly line of new books and DVD's. These arrogant marketeers actually cited studies done with real kettlebell athletes like Valery, and claimed the positive findings as their own. Overnight, a commercial empire arose, but built on the back's of Russian men and women who actually did the work. Marketing genius should never be confused with actual expertise!

With results not much different than most other forms of body building and power lifting, the program spread until Fedorenko's arrival on the scene in 2005. Valery made a decision to release his vast knowledge (and in the process expose other's vast lack of knowledge) of kettlebell lifting to the American public. With the formation of The American Kettlebell Club, and training of hundreds of certified coaches over the last year, Valery has taken the first step toward providing America with the information it so sorely needs. His athletes accomplishments are just beginning to surface.

Americans are being kept in the dark no longer. The lights have been flipped on, and truth, in the form of real information, has illuminated the kettlebell arena. When examined under close scrutiny, ancient wisdom must prevail.

Kettlebell De-Briefing
Over the last year or so, many of my new clients claim to have previous experience with kettlebell lifting. They've heard about Valery Fedorenko, and have understandably become intrigued over this "new way" to lift kettlebells. It's always my distasteful job to explain to them that they haven't been doing anything more than body building, and we'll pretty much be starting from scratch.

My next task is to knock the RKC out of them. An acronym that embodies all of that's wrong with kettlebells, and will only be mentioned once. What I find is forced movements, lack of endurance, and stiff joints, with very little work capacity. Strength and endurance both, are typically far below what I perceive as their potential. Explosiveness, and the contract / relax principle are all but dormant.

With cues I've learned directly from Valery, and a few I developed myself, I manage to ease the transition to a more athletic performance. By applying some patience and discipline, strength, endurance, and consequent rep totals soar, as progress at the beginning is usually in leaps and bounds. Work capacity, fat burning, muscle toning are all part of the package as well. My clients and I achieve tremendous satisfaction from the observing daily, measurable changes. Every workout is a challenge that's overcome, and the physical and psychological payoff is tenfold any possible effort.

Kettlebell Technique
The real fun begins when technique begins to take hold. There's no set time frame, as so many factors come into play. From strength and flexibility to client history and natural ability, numerous qualities determine the pace of each program. A good coach will be able help you identify these qualities, working your strengths to overcome weakness.

Of course, your personal goals have a big an impact on program progression. Pure fitness, weight loss, firefighting, martial arts, strength/endurance, competition, virtually any athletic endeavor can be enhanced, and a personalize progression will reflect those goals. Every day I help my clients match their workouts with what's most important to them.

My goal is to have kettlebell lifing in the Olympics, and I also see kettlebell lifting, in it's purest form, making its way into gyms across America. Once credible athletes embrace the simplicity and effectiveness of this unique tool, driving their abilities to new heights, it's only a matter of time before the general public will go for the gold!

GO TO: >> East Coast Kettlebell Club