History of the Kettlebell

A Brief History:

  • Kettlebells are believed to have originated over 2000 years ago. There are some indications that Kettlebells may have been used in the early Olympic games?
  • In a 1704 dictionary Kettlebells were mentioned  under the word "girya'' which is the Russian word for Kettlebell. Its description is 'of a weight with a handle'. The men who lifted these weights were called ‘gireviks’.
  • A kettlebell is basically a cannonball with a handle welded to it and is typically made from cast iron. The unique, off-centered nature of the kettlebell challenges the user’s body in a way that no other weight training device can.
  • Russian Kettlebells were first used in the markets as counterweights. They were used to measure amounts of goods and produce in 'poods'
  • A pood is a weight of 16.38kg (36.11lbs).
  • Russian villagers soon realised the potential of the Kettlebell and began using them in competitions of athletics, strength and endurance.
  • Organised kettlebell competitions followed with Men gathering to find out who could throw them furthest, lift the heaviest or do the most lift repetitions with a set weight.
  • Strongmen used them to increase their strength and athleticism and  in the early 1900's Russian weightlifting magazines featured strong men using Kettlebells.
  • The 'Committee of Kettlebell sport' was organised in 1985 when they created official competition rules.
  • In Russia the amazing potential of Kettlebell training was realised by the military, they began training and conditioning using this functional piece of equipment.
  • Here in the Western world Kettlebells have only recently been discovered by the masses. In the 1990's fitness enthusiasts turned their attention to the humble Kettlebell and once they experienced the results popularity soared.
  • Arthur Saxon (shown in the bottom 2 pictures) born Arthur Hennig and nicknamed "The Iron-Master", was a strongman and circus performer from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. In 1905 published The Development of Physical Power, which explains his methods for performing lifts including the usage of barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells, as well as Ring, Ball and Square lifting. This book also depict Saxon displaying the lifts in 45 pages of photographs.
  • Pavel Tsatsouline who worked training the soviet arms forces is the man behind bringing kettlebells to the United States armed forces and then into mainstream fitness.  Kettlebell training started to increase in popularity within contact sports such as ultimate fighting before gradually revolutionising the whole fitness industry.
  • Adrian Burton one of the founding fathers of Kettlercise introduced Kettlebells to the UK mainstream during ITV's Fat families in 2004, followed by Angie Dowd on The Biggest Loser broadcast through Sky in 2005.
  • Because Kettlebells work the whole body they provide great benefits, helping people lose weight and tone their bodies with many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) swearing by them.
         Kettlebells can be used for:
  • Cardiovascular conditioning
  • Fat loss
  • Strength gains
  • Muscular endurance (especially the posterior chain - bottom, legs and lower back)
  • Stamina
  • Endurance
  • Tone

With sizes ranging from 2kg up to 45kg there is a weight for everyone and all types of training e.g. strength, endurance etc.

Information care of: Kettlercise Instructor Manual, Wikipedia.