Kettlebell lifting

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Russian stamp with kettlebell lifting theme (snatch and jerk depicted).

Kettlebell lifting (Russian: гиревой спорт, girevoy sport) is a weight lifting sport performed with kettlebells. Competitive kettlebell lifting has a long history in Russia but developed as an organised, standard sport under the name kettlebell lifting during the 1960s.[1]


The sport consists of three lifts: the snatch, jerk and the long jerk.[2][3][4]

  • Snatch: A single kettlebell is swung using one hand from between the knees to above the head in a single motion.[5]
  • Jerk: Two kettlebells are grasped in each arm at shoulder level and stabilised in the 'rack position', then jerked above the head. Can be performed with one kettlebell.[6]
  • Long Jerk: Two kettlebells are cleaned from knee level to chest level, then jerked to above the head. Can be performed with one kettlebell.[7]


Valery Fedorenko demonstrates a basic snatch manoeuvre. Red (32 kg), green (24 kg), yellow (16 kg), and blue (12 kg) standard kettlebells are seen.

Competition format is usually composed of two categories; biathlon and the long cycle:

  • Biathlon involves the girevik (kettlebell lifter) performing a set of jerks for ten minutes, followed by a set of snatches for ten minutes.
  • Long cycle involves the girevik performing a set of long jerks for ten minutes.

Sanctioning bodies require the use of 1-pood (16 kg), 1.5-pood (24 kg), and 2-pood (32 kg) competition kettlebells of similar size with identifying colours (yellow, green, and red respectively).[8][9]


  • KB – often used abbreviation for kettlebell
  • Pendulum – Path the kettlebell takes as it moves from between the legs to the top of the swing position.
  • Swing – Kettlebell movement that involves moving the bell in a pendulum motion from between the legs to chest level in front of the body. Basic and start up kettlebell exercise. Can be performed with one or two hands.
    • Russian Swing –
    • American Swing – modification of Russian swing
    • Backswing – The portion of the swing or Snatch in which the bell is moving backward between the legs.
    • Upswing – The portion of the swing or Snatch in which the bell is moving forward and up towards the top of the swing or overhead position.
  • Rack position – The V-position of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist where the kettlebell rests between repetitions of Jerk or Long Cycle.
  • Lockout – When the arm is fully extended in the overhead position, and the knees are straight.
  • Joint stacking – Ensuring proper alignment of joints in overhead lockout position, meaning a straight line can be drawn from wrist to elbow to shoulder to hip.
  • Fixation – When the lifter and kettlebell stop all movement at the completion of a repetition; the component of a lift that determines whether the repetition will be counted towards the competition score.
  • Clean – Kettlebell movement that uses the legs and hips to move the kettlebell from the swing into the rack position.
    • Hang Clean –
  • Jerk – Kettlebell movement that uses the triple extension (see definition below) to launch the kettlebell from the rack position to overhead position. (Jerk begins with a push-press (see definition below))
    • OAJ – One Arm Jerk (typically for women only).
    • Double Jerk – (not allowed)
  • Triple extension – Full extension of the hips, knees, and ankles that provides the power to launch the kettlebell overhead in the Jerk movement.
  • Long Cycle – Kettlebell movement that is composed of the Clean, followed by the Jerk.
    • TALC – Two Arm Long Cycle, meaning Long Cycle with two kettlebells (typically for men, but becoming more common for women).
    • OALC – One Arm Long Cycle, meaning Long Cycle with one kettlebell (typically for women only).
  • Snatch – Kettlebell movement that uses the legs and hips to move the kettlebell from the swing into the overhead position.
    • Half Snatch – Kettlebell movement in which dropping into rack is substituted for the snatch drop.
    • Black Snatch – A method of training grip and endurance for Snatch in which one or multiple swings are added before each snatch. Repeat for desired amount of time (or until you drop the bell).
    • Olympic Snatch – A style of Snatch in which the backswing is eliminated and the bell moves in a straighter path up and down, often employed once the lifter’s forearms have fatigued at the end of a set.
    • Hang Snatch –
  • Switch –
– one switch rule (classic (IUKL) competition) or unlimited/multiple switches rule (marathon (IKMF) competition)
  • Speed Switch –
  • Single/One Hand Switch –
  • Two Hand Switch – (not allowed)
  • Static/Dead Hang – (not allowed)
  • Rebounding – (not allowed)
  • Push Press – Kettlebell movement that utilizes strength from hips to get the bell past the rack position then is followed through with a shoulder press. The push press is much more vertical in a straight line than a strict military press.
  • Clean and Push Press – Kettlebell movement that is composed of the Clean, followed by the Push Press.
  • Press / Military Press – Kettlebell movement that relies on the strength of the shoulder and tightness in the core.
  • Clean and Press – Kettlebell movement that is composed of the Clean, followed by the Press.
  • Kettlebell High Pulls / Kettlebell Standing Pull-up – Kettlebell movement; Kettlebell is between the feet then grabbed with both arms maintaining flat back then ascended and raised to waist followed by pulling it directly in front of the face (elbows stay high and reach eye height (handle is at chin level)).
  • Set – Length of time a kettlebell lift is performed for.
  • RPM – Repetitions Per Minute, which is used to pace a kettlebell set.
  • Kettlebell Coefficient – allows comparing results achieved using kettlebells of different weights in the same weight class and in the same discipline (each KB weight has assigned coefficient). Score is then calculated as number of repetitions x KB coefficient. Used in Ultimate Girevik Cup.
  • (kettlebell) grips – regular grip, reverse grip, pinch grip, finger grip, ball grip
  • (kettlebell) holds – 1 KB/2 hands, 1 KB/1 hand, 2 KB/1 hand (holds both kettlebells), 2 KB/2 hands (each holds a kettlebell), 2 KB Squared (2 hands hold 2 kettlebells in each hand)
    • one hand holds - one hand hold, horn, bottom up
    • two hand holds - two hand hold, horn squeeze, horn taffy pull, two hand bottom up, waiter, crusher, foot in handle, farmer hold


The main international sanctioning body is the International Union of Kettlebell Lifting (IUKL) based in Riga, Latvia.[10] The All-Russia Kettlebell Lifting Federation (Всероссийская федерация гиревого спорта) is also a member of IUKL. A competitor organisation of lesser importance is the International Girya Sport Federation (IGSF), founded in Lipetsk, Russia but currently based in Ukraine.[11] In 2006, Valery Fedorenko, a former world champion from Kyrgyzstan founded the World Kettlebell Club in the United States.[12] In 2012, The American Kettlebell Alliance (AKA)[13] as founded to further develop and popularize kettlebell sport in the Americas. The AKA is also a member of the IUKL and represents American athletes into international competitions including the IUKL World Championships, which is the largest and most prestigious annual international kettlebell sport competition in the world. International Kettlebell Marathon Federation (IKMF) is main organisation for marathon kettlebell lifting which was previously sanctioned by IGSF. There are organizations which promote sport of kettlebell lifting, educate and license coaches and determine conditions for titles of mastery in sport of kettlebell lifting; more notable ones are: KetAcademy, IKFF (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation), StrongFirst, World Kettlebell, GSU (Girevoy Sport Union), IKSFA (International Kettlebell Sport & Fitness Academy).


  2. ^ "Exercises: Snatch". World Kettlebell Club. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Exercises: Jerk". World Kettlebell Club. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Exercises: Long Jerk". World Kettlebell Club. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Exercises: Snatch". World Kettlebell Club. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Exercises: Jerk". World Kettlebell Club. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Kettlebell Long Cycle". One Hour Long Cycle. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  10. ^ International Union of Kettlebell Lifting.
  11. ^ International Girya Sport Federation
  12. ^ World Kettlebell Club
  13. ^ "AKA Sport | USA Non-profit Kettlebell Association – Exclusive USA". Retrieved 2016-03-07.