April 23, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Kettlebells: We’re About This and You’re About That

4 min read

by Marty Farrell

So folks are asking me.  “Are you going to talk to these folks who say we (the sport of kettlebells) are about this and say they are about that?

I ask “Why?” and even now I will write about it despite that I care very little about it.  I used to care more, when I could lift less. I imagine as I improve I will care less.  It’s an inverse proportion.  There are metabolic conditioning (METCON) gyms be it for mixed-martial arts (MMA), the Games, whatever.  They do the two handed-swings with a plethora or other exercises, walk around with the hands on the hips, some dry heave.  I work 50 hours a week and have no time for that.  I commend those who give it the grit.  I’m not knocking.  Two-handed swings are an exercise of merit.  Turkish Get-Ups (TGUs) are a good exercise.  Good fitness?   Yes.


Lets talk about serious fitness.  In comparison to competitive kettlebells it’s not difficult.  I’ve lifted my own body weight 150 lb at 5’11” with a TGU, a feat I have yet to see with anyone given the same height to weight requirements.

I do not even train for it.

Is that to say that folks could not do it with those same sets of circumstances?  No.  Of course there are those who can.  Getting back on track, I compete in kettlebells, something I’ve done at a professional level for 9 years.  While the sport has evolved, so have I and continue to do so for my biggest gain yet.

I care about improvement, for myself and for those who I teach.

Kettlebell styles have no place for debate:  none.  You can either lift the weight or you can’t and all the rest falls by the wayside.  If there is to be an intelligent debate it should be revolved around the lifts themselves.

I do not typically train TGUs and swings.  They are not without merit.  To say this style of snatch with a kettlebell is different from that is true.  But is the person who moves the weight from point A to B in the same time frame (acceleration/deceleration) the same?  Yes.  The trajectory might be different projecting the hip out with a two-handed swing snatch.  I’ve seen people from all kinds of styles in the sport and who are not in the sport and there is a ton of similarity/crossover.  Some people in the sport look the same as those who are not.  To me, the “style” debate is an excuse to avoid becoming vulnerable in a “cloister” of expertise.  Those whole are involved with competitive kettlebells as a “coach” does not mean that they necessarily are “experts”.

It comes down to the individual be it sport or not.  Does the individual truly know their stuff?

Kettlebell sport is not that hard to get into.  Everyone has different challenges along the way.
There are folks who do both styles that have competed, with 16 kgs and 24 kgs.  It’s a free country and there is credit to what they say when commenting on training for the sport.  It’s fairly simple.

But it’s also very new.  So how could people be so sure about the benefits of the sport and what it takes to be really good?   It’s still in its infancy.

DSC_0038 (6)

Case and point:

Someone who has competed with 16 kgs does not know what kettlebell sport is to someone who competed with 20 kgs.

Someone who competes with 20 kg does not know what kettlebell sport is to someone who competes with 24 kgs.

Someone who competes with 24 kgs does not know what kettlebell sport is to someone who competes with 28 kgs.

Someone who competes with 28 kgs does not know what kettlebell sport is with 32 kgs.

“we get it” says the reader:)   no you don’t.   Not yet.  Even I do not get it 100%.  I very recently went 10 minutes in both lifts for the first time.  I’m truly read to engage pro kettlebells.   It’s the beginning of the end 🙂

This discussion is better served in a video podcast so people can get a better context.  I’m not hating on those who do different “styles”.

I am simply pointing out that the training for 32 kg kettlebell sport involves more than “10 minute sets all the time”.  Its kettlebell lifting.

Kettlebell lifting, an activity of high reps with weight is better for fitness than other forms of kettlebell use because it becomes its own modality unique and yet comprehensive.

Would you give someone 10 lbs for 10 reps or 5 lbs for 20 reps if you were not sure how strong they were.? You would err on the side of caution and go lighter every time and build volume reps with lighter weight.

That’s what kettlebell lifting is derived from the sport of kettlebell (95% of kettlebells sport or otherwise).  Regardless of what certification body one comes out of, the real knowledge is in the experience of teaching and doing.

Again its ok to have different styles of lifting as people say.  Since I myself am still learning what kettlebell sport is in its entirety with regard to training./programming etc, I find it disingenuous when someone who doesn’t do it or dabbles with it (competes with 16 kgs through 24 kgs) “knows” how I prepare for it.   Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.

Kettlebell lifting derived from the source: competitive kettlebells is interesting and continues to grow.  The latest competition in Germany had 30+ countries and 500+ competitors.  People who are better at it are in crazy shape.  thats why its gaining so quickly.  Its  almost mocking to the non-kettlebell sport fitness arena.   Almost.  Anything high level becomes debatable.  But I challenge you to attend a meet to watch.

I compete and coach competitive kettlebell folks at varying levels.   I even train people in fitness.
The secret is in the skill, like everything else.  Efficiency is power.  Engage the fitness sport of kettlebell lifting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.