Russian Kettlebell Saga

Russian Kettlebell Saga

The history and success of the Russian Kettlebell.

A Quick History of the Russian Kettlebell

For something that looks very unremarkable, Kettlebells have a very interesting history behind them. One of their very first uses was as a measuring or weighing device in Russia, way back in the 1700s.

Girya is the Russian word for Kettlebells. A Russian Kettlebell, or girya, weighed 35 pounds and this weight was called a pood. Since there were no modern weighing scales at the time with which to find out how much certain kinds of produce weighed, what farmers did was to put their produce on the primitive scales which were then in use, and weigh their crops or produce against the girya’s pood.

Get in Shape by Goofing Off with a Kettlebell Weight

The unusual shape of the girya could have proved too interesting to Russians who were living in those times, and they probably started goofing around in-between crop weigh-ins and began to play with the giryas, passing them around like the strangely shaped balls that they were, or simply swinging them this way and that to pass the time.

As they did those fun-filled goofing-off moves with the Russian Kettlebell, they probably started to notice after a couple of weeks or so, that their bodies were becoming more and more developed, meaning they had gained more muscle and lost a great deal of fat.

Now, it’s likely that those guys were not fit to begin with, because they didn’t dance the Russian squat dance that much. You know, that dance where the dancers would cross their arms, squat, and kick out one leg and then another, alternately throwing their arms open and crossing them again as they kicked, faster and faster, on and on and on.

Pardon me; I got dizzy there for a second.

Okay, that squat dance is one excessively frenzied dance which could probably melt off all the last ounce of fat even from a grizzly bear that’s fresh from hibernating… if the bear had been so inclined to dance like that after it woke up.

But, anyway… when word got out that the giryas were making everyone who swung them look really sexy, even without Russian squat dancing… well… what do you expect happened next?

Word Spread about Russian Kettlebell Weights

Of course, every Boris, Ivan, Semyon, and Vasily who needed to become toned and healthy soon wanted to get into the act and swing a Russian Kettlebell to Kingdom come, or at least until they got fit, whichever came first (since we’re all still here on earth, it’s obvious that they got fit first).

Kettlebell Weights for a Balanced Physique

So, there they were, those Russians oozing with sex appeal, lean and muscled in all the right places. They were not walking around with oversized biceps and very narrow waists and hips; the kind that only look good to judges of Mr. Universe competitions. The ones that are otherwise undesirable for doing the routine heavy chores of life such as moving boxes and heavy furniture around.

They also didn’t have thin, nearly birdlike legs that didn’t go well (and never will) with a highly muscled torso. What they had was a balanced physique. Using a Russian Kettlebell gave them the kind of lean and strong body that they desired, and which you also do.

So, it’s true, we really shouldn’t judge a Kettlebell by how weird it looks. The beauty of the Kettlebell lies within it, and its beauty is equivalent to its ability to bring out the best in every Kettlebell user by the sheer power inherent in its design.

Russian Kettlebells and the World

One other advantage of using Kettlebell weights for fitness workouts is the fact that Kettlebell sets can be used by people of varying body types, ages, and physical conditions. For example, there are some exercises or workout routines which are not advisable for pregnant women. But there are pregnant women who have done their fitness regimens using Kettlebell weights, and experienced no untoward risks to their babies, or to themselves.

In fact, Sarah Lurie, owner and founder of Iron Core Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning has gone on record that she used Kettlebells during her first pregnancy, and continued to use them too, to eliminate the excess pounds she gained while pregnant.

She did the same thing during her second pregnancy, and according to her, the rewards of exercising with Kettlebells have been numerous. For one thing, she didn’t experience the kind of back pains which were ordinarily felt by most pregnant women. What’s more, she was energetic, she felt strong, and she had her mobility and flexibility enhanced, as well.

So, Kettlebells are not just for Boris and his comrades. It’s clear that Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane, Ashley, Maria, Rolando, Inga, Siegfried, Hachiro, Keiko, and just about whoever, wherever, who needs to become fit and energetic can make use of Kettlebells for those purposes.

But of course, to be doubly sure that you won’t experience any undue effects, it’s always safest to get medical clearance first, most of all when you have a special physical condition that could prohibit any kind of strenuous activity on your part.

The Sheer Power in Kettlebell Weights

Let’s move on to Kettlebell weights and Kettlebell sets. Determining just how heavy the Kettlebell that you will use should be, can be an intimidating experience, if you have no idea about the differences between what Kettlebell weights and Kettlebell sets are recommended for the use of men and women.

Now, before anyone becomes upset – no one is being sexist here. It’s just that the anatomy of women and men are really different from each other. That’s one major reason right there that men and women would truly be better off using weights that are more in sync with whom they are.

Kettlebell Weights for Men

For example, male Kettlebell beginners would do well to start off with anywhere from 10 kgs to 20 kgs. This may not sound like much, but remember that Kettlebells are unlike other weightlifting equipment such as barbells and dumbbells, or even a home gym that features the use of weights for bench presses and other muscle building exercises.

Kettlebell Weights for Women

For female Kettlebell beginners, anywhere between 5 kgs to 10 kgs would do, initially. Kettlebells are relatively cheap, compared to other exercise equipment, so it won’t hurt to be prudent at the start. You can always up the ante, so to speak, when the time is right.

The key is to try out the Kettlebell weights first, to see what feels “right” to you. Remember that you need to ease into using Kettlebell weights. Don’t overtax yourself. At the same time, if you can clearly lift more than the minimum weight recommended, then you should so that you won’t be wasting your exercise opportunities.

As for the type to use, you basically have three types to choose from:

The standard Russian Kettlebell, which increases in size as its weight increases. This type is made of cast iron.

The pro-grade Kettlebell, which is made out of hollow steel, makes no difference in size because the weight of this type is all that changes, the size doesn’t change. This is more expensive than a Russian Kettlebell.

There are also adjustable Kettlebells, which is a relatively new type of Kettlebell. Think of X-men when you think of an adjustable Kettlebell. It’s a mutant. Of course, it’s a matter of opinion but if you search online, you’ll see that the adjustable Kettlebell isn’t really that highly desired among enthusiasts.

An adjustable Kettlebell features weight plates that can be added to or deducted from, depending on how much Kettlebell weights you intend to use. The plates can be noisy, and the handles can get smashed when they are dropped accidentally.

Before Buying a Kettlebell Set

Before buying, ask yourself what’s your primary consideration; price or quality? If you say both, then get a Kettlebell set to have more freedom in mixing-and-matching your Kettlebells. When you start out, stay within the same brand, model or look because, well, neat and uniform is just nicer.

If you’re simply starting out on a tight budget, get a standard Kettlebell first, and practice with it. As you become adept at handling Kettlebells and know it’s something you want to make a lifetime habit out of then you’ll be in a better position to consider upgrading to a Kettlebell set that has more choices.

In the next article, “Getting into the Swing of Your Kettlebell”, I’ll work on giving you some good information on doing Kettlebell workout routines. After that we’ll get on with doing the actual exercises using Kettlebell weights you decided was right for you. And if you haven’t done so already, go to the top of and get the 22 Kettlebell videos that come with the My Fitness Nut Newsletter.