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Kettlebell Sport


Kettlebell Sport is a weightlifting sport performed with kettlebells that originates from Russia.  Unlike Olympic weightlifting or Power Lifting which is about maximal weight lifted, the sport of kettlebell lifting is classified as a cyclical sport where competitors have to lift a submaximal load, and perform as many repetitions as they can in a 10 minute time frame or longer to become champion. Each lifter receives only one attempt to perform as many repetitions as they can without putting the kettlebells down.  The three classic competition lifts are the Snatch, Jerk, and the Long Cycle (Clean and Jerk). Competition events include the Snatch, Jerk, Long Cycle, Biathlon, Triathlon, Kettlebell Marathon, Power Juggling & Kettlebell Relay.


Kettlebells were originally a Russian agricultural weight used in the market place to measure grain, and dates back to the times of the Russian Czars in the 18th Century.

The word ‘Girija’ was first published in a Russia dictionary in 1704.

It was in the 1940’s when kettlebell sport was developed in rural areas and Soviet military groups in the former USSR. This was the era when kettlebell sport competitions were being held by strongmen, the army and the navy which has evolved into the modern sport of kettlebell lifting.

Timeline highlights

1966 – GS was officially included in the military

1948 – The first official kettlebell sport competition took place in Moscow

1962 – Kettlebell sport competition triathlon event consisting of the press, jerk and snatch with no time limits for men only.

1993 – the 1st World Championship was in Lipetzk Russia

1974 – Kettlebell Sport also known as Girevoy Sport, or GS became the Russian National sport of kettlebell lifting

1984 – kettlebell press was removed from competition

1985 – Introduction of the prestigious title Master of Sport was at the first Championship of the USSR

1989 – 10 minute time limits were established, Long Cycle became an event (Zaytcev), and Power Juggling was developed to promote kettlebell sport and entertain spectators

1998 – Sergey Rachinskiy founded the kettlebell relay event

1999 – First kettlebell sport competition for women with 16 kg in the Snatch event in Kalugo Russia

2007 – Women started competing with 24kg

To date, in summary since kettlebell sport has spread around the world different associations have introduced new events, weights, rules and regulations. In addition to traditional classic Long Cycle and Biathlon (Jerk & Snatch) events for men, and Snatch only for women, modern kettlebell sport competition events now include the following single and double lift events: Long Cycle, Biathlon, and Jerk only for women using single and double kettlebells. Also Snatch only and double Jerk only for men.  In addition kettlebell Marathon and Power Juggling plus more.



Snatch Event (10 minutes)

Snatch only – Single kettlebell is swung between the legs and up to the overhead position in one uninterrupted movement, finishing with the arm fully extended overhead, then snatched as many times overhead as possible. Lifter has up to 10 minutes to perform as many repetitions as possible, and only one hand switch is permitted.

Jerk Events (10 minutes)

Two Arm Jerk (TAJ) – Two Kettlebells are cleaned to the chest into the rack position, then jerked as many times overhead as possible. The finish position must have their knees and elbows in full lockout and knees locked out before each Jerk.

One Arm Jerk (OAJ) – Single kettlebell is cleaned to the chest into the rack position, then jerked as many times overhead as possible. The finish position must have their knees and elbows in full lockout. Only one hand switch is permitted.

Long Cycle Events (10 minutes)

Two Arm Long Cycle (TALC) – Clean two kettlebells to the chest in the rack position , Jerk them to the overhead position, then allow the kettlebells to drop back into the rack position, followed by the back swing, and clean into the rack position again. Repeat the cycle for reps. The finish position must have their knees and elbows in full lockout and knees also need to be locked out before each Jerk overhead.

One Arm Long Cycle (OALC) – Exercise performed as above but with a single kettlebell. Only one hand switch is permitted.


Biathlon – Biathlon is a combination of Jerk and Snatch (10 minutes per event)

Biathlon (TAJ plus Snatch) – Competitors jerk two kettlebells over head for as many repetitions as possible in 10 minutes, followed by a minimum of 30 minutes rest period, then 10 minutes of snatches

Biathlon (OAJ plus Snatch) – Competitors jerk one kettlebell overhead for as many repetitions as possible in 10 minutes, followed by a minimum of 30 minutes rest period, then 10 minutes of snatches. Only one hand switch is permitted for single arm events. This event is a women’s only event.

Triathlon – Triathlon is a combination of Long Cycle, Jerk, and Snatch.

The three competition lifts are the Snatch, Jerk, and the Long Cycle (Clean and Jerk). Each lifter receives only one attempt in each lift to perform as many repetitions as they can without putting the kettlebells down.  The Jerk and Long Cycle are performed with two kettlebells and the Snatch with a single kettlebell with only one hand switch. The combined total of successful lifts in each discipline determines the overall result within a bodyweight category.  A lifter who fails to complete the minimum number of lifts in each discipline will not be able to rank regardless if total points are achieved. Each lift is also worth different points.

Note: Competitions also include 5 minute events in single and multi-discipline events depending on the organisation.


Kettlebell Marathon (30 minute and 1 hour)

The kettlebell Marathon is an event that lasts for either 30 minutes which is called the Half Marathon, 1 hour or longer performing Jerk, Snatch or Long Cycle. Kettlebell marathons are performed with one or two kettlebells. The main different between the 10 minute single kettlebell events and the kettlebell marathon is that athletes can switch hands in one arm kettlebell events as often as they like unlike two arm kettlebell marathon events. Athletes have to lift nonstop for the given time period, unlike 10 minute events where the athlete has up to 10 minutes.

KETTLEBELL RELAY (3 minutes per athlete)

The Kettlebell Relay is an opportunity for individuals to compete as a team. This is a very exciting fun event after the main lifts have finished. Spectators will witness a friendly team battle. The relay includes the Classic Jerk, LC or Snatch using 1 or 2 kettlebells. There are traditionally seven weight categories consisting of seven competitors per team and a 3 minute all out sprint (fastest pace as possible per athlete). The team with the most repetitions wins. Single kettlebell lifts can only switch once.


Power Juggling is the performing art of kettlebell sport and was developed to entertain spectators with an artistic display of strength, power and skill, as did the strongmen in their routines in circuses back in the early days. Both women and men can compete in power juggling. Kettlebell power juggling athletes may perform alone, with a partner or in a group. Men compete with a 16 kg kettlebell, and Women lift 8 kg or  6 kg depending upon your age.


Lifters have the opportunity to win Gold, Silver or Bronze medals in their category, weight class, age class and also to become overall winner in each event by performing the most repetitions in the Professional, Amateur or Novice divisions. Athletes also have the opportunity to represent their country and become a kettlebell sport world champion and set world records.

The winners in each event and weight class are determined by summing up of points in each discipline. Each lift is worth different points to win and achieve ranks. For Example

  • Single discipline events Snatch, Jerk, LC, and Marathon = 1 point per lift (the person with the highest lifts wins)
  • Biathlon Jerk = 1 point, Snatch = 0.5 points (combined score wins)
  • Triathlon: Snatch 1 rep = 1 point, Jerk = 2 points, LC = 3 points, and In Triathlon to achieve rank you have to achieve a minimum number of points in each lift.
  • If two athletes in the same weight class perform the same amount of repetitions, the lightest person in the weight class becomes the winner.
  • ABSOLUTE WINNER – Coefficient formula determines the absolute winner in each event. Co-efficient formula: (Kettlebell weight X Repetitions ÷ Athlete weight).
  • Power Juggling


In addition athletes can achieve kettlebell sport professional, amateur and novice ranks. Lifters need to perform a certain number of repetitions in their weight class to achieve official ranks. Ranks include: MSIC Master of Sport International Class, MS – Master of Sport, CMS – Candidate for Master of Sport, Rank 1, 2 and 3.

● MSIC rank can be achieved at international  competitions/ranking table which include: World Championships, World Cup, European Championship, International World Grand Prix, etc

●  MS rank is the highest rank an athlete can achieve at national competitions.

●  CMS, Rank I, Sport Rank II, Sport Rank III can be achieved performing at any local and international competitions which are officially affiliated/partnered with an international organisation.


8 kg (Pink), 12 kg (Blue), 16 kg (Yellow), 20 kg (Purple), 24 kg (Green), 28 kg (Orange), 32 kg (Red)

Kettlebell standard dimensions – Height 280 mm, Body diameter 210 mm, Handle diameter 35 mm, Handle length 115 mm.

Kettlebell Sport technique description with instructional video coming soon!!!!

Kettlebell Sport at the Arnold Sports Festival clip below: