“The kettlebell design may have evolved over
Kettlebells are known as Girya in Russian, and the athletes that lift them are called Gireviks. Girevoy sport is a traditional Russian weight lifting sport, where maximal repetitions rather than maximal weight determines who is the champion.
Analysis of literature and museum archival material shows that kettlebells have been known as far back as ancient Greece. At the museum Olympia in Greece, it is possible to see a stone kettlebell weighing 143 kg, with the following words carved in it “Bibon heaved up me above a head by one hand”.
The kettlebell design may have evolved over the years, but the goal for the cultures that used those weights with a handle was always strength and martial development in one form or another. Kettlebells have left their trace in the heritage of many countries across Europe, from Scotland to Turkey and Iran.
A handle made it easy to lift compact weights around the marketplace and flour mills. However, not all of these “kettlebells” were round like the ones we use today. For centuries, they were part of programs at folk festivals and became an integral part of the culture of the working class. Indeed, with weights being commonplace, some kind of (unorganized) competitions and displays of strength were to be expected.
In Russia, where Girevoy sports comes from the standard weight for measuring grain was a pood, the equivalent of 16kg. This weight measure set the competition weight for Girevoy sport that we know today.
Kettlebells are for everyone, from the professional athlete that wants the edge for competitions, to the average person who wants to get fit to the grandmother who just wants to play with her grandchild for many years to come.