A few things you need to understand about Russians, they are good at vodka, chess, and the kettlebell.

Way before George Washington was crossing the Delaware, or before Americans had the right to bear arms. The Russians were carrying kettlebells.

It is understood and recognized that the Russians were first to use the kettlebell, or Girya, in the early 1700s. It was mostly a tool used by farmers to help measure outcrops. But, as any man wearied on a plantation, the farmers began swinging these items and, lo and behold, they got stronger, healthier and became better people.

Not to get too far into the weeds here, but if you want to know the story you should be aware of this name. Fast forward from the farmers to the late 1800s and, Vladislav Kraevsky is recognized with adding the kettlebell and barbell to Russian training.

A kettlebell is a kind of dumbbell or free weight that is rounded with a flat base and an arched handle. It looks similar to a cannonball with a handle or a teapot without the spout, hence the name “kettlebell” in English. In Russia, it is called a “girya” Authentic kettlebells are made of either cast iron or steel.

Unlike a dumbbell, a kettlebell core of mass extends beyond the hand. Kettlebells can be whirled, launched, juggled, pressed, held, moved and managed in hundreds of ways. They are tiny and transportable and can be combined with all viewpoints of athletic and fitness training. Kettlebells are an extremely effective way to lose weight, tone your body, increase your cardiovascular strength and maintain joint health, movement, and flexibility.

The history of the kettlebell is slightly unclear. However, it seems to be that the Russian Kettlebell was first created 350 years ago. The first appearance of the word in a Russian dictionary appeared in 1704. They were originally used as counterweights to weigh out dry goods on market scales. Kettlebells USA®People started throwing them around for entertainment, and they were later put to use for weight lifting. The Russians measured items in “poods.” A pood (16.38 kg, or 36.11 pounds) can be traced back to the 12th century. Kettlebells are still weighed in poods in Russia and realms of the former Soviet Union.

Many cultures during history have practiced some form of weight lifting with an attached handle for strength training. Scottish tribes would throw weighted objects with handles in Highland Games. Chinese Shaolin Monks, would use a stone padlocks in a similar way that a kettlebell would be. This type of training was called Shi-SuoGuong which meant The Art of Stone Padlock and predated kettlebells by thousands of years. There is speculation that kettlebell-like weights were used by the Romans & Greeks.

Kettlebells were used a lot by old time strongmen such as Arthur Saxon, Sig Klein, Clevio Massimo and The Mighty Apollo. They were once a common staple in American gyms and training academies and were often called “Ring Weights,” although ring weights could be any square weight with a ring attached to the top so it could be held and lifted. “Block Weights” were the American equivalent of the original Russian scale weights; they looked similar to today’s “power blocks.”

The forefather of the modern fitness gym, Dr. Vladislav Krayevsky, founded the St. Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Society on August 10, 1885, considered the birth of weightlifting in Russia. A proponent of what he called “heavy athletics,” in 1900 Krayevsky wrote “The Development of Physical Strength with Kettlebells and without Kettlebells.” He was one of the most influential pioneers in the fitness of his day. His students included the legendary strongman George Hackenscmidt, “The Russian Lion,” who credited him with teaching him everything he knew and Eugene Sandow, “The Father of Modern Day Bodybuilding.”

In 1948, modern kettlebell lifting became the Soviet Union’s national sport. In the 1970’s kettlebell lifting became part of the United All-State Sports Association of the USSR, and in 1985 federal rules, regulations & weight categories were achieved. In November 1985 the first National Championship took place in Lipetsk, Russia. The Russian Military requires its recruits to train with kettlebells. The United States Secret Service & the FBI Counter Assault Team also require their operators to teach high repetition, ballistic kettlebell moves.


Kettlebell Sports lifting is the National Sport of Russia. Today exercising with kettlebells is making a major comeback, and kettlebell training has now become one of the most popular and best ways work out and stay fit. Proper kettlebell training can help you to live a longer, healthier life, This is done to the way the kettlebell is made it improves joint health, mobility, and flexibility can all be managed, and even improved, with the correct application of kettlebell movements. Kettlebell lifting is technical just like Olympic lifting and requires the lifter to use the proper form to evade injury and to reap the highest benefit from any of the hundreds of kettlebell exercises and variations.

The history of kettlebells begins in Russia at the start of the 18th century, where in 1704, the word ‘Girya’ (meaning kettlebell), was first introduced in the Russian Dictionary.

The early scientific principles of Kettlebell training were laid down by Dr. Vladislav Kraevsky who presented the method of kettlebells to the broader Russian public

Dr. Vladislav Kraevsky

At the beginning of the 20th century, physical culturists, healthy men and circus performers such as Arthur Saxon, Edgar Mueller, and Eugene Sandow, would travel all around the world and would be exposed to Russian kettlebell training. So, these Strongmen included kettlebells in their training and performances, introducing a wider audience outside of Russia to the cannonball-shaped weights.

Old Time Strongmen

However, history took its toll on the simple kettlebell, ending its rise to fame in the West as the Soviet revolution, and 2 World Wars caused Russian sports and stories, to retreat inside the Russian borders.

Nonetheless, kettlebells proceeded to thrive in the former Soviet Union. Practice with kettlebells became a favorite activity for people in rural areas, the military, and Olympic athletes. In addition to their training program, Soviet Olympic weightlifters utilized kettlebells unilaterally in order to strengthen their weaker side.

In 1981, the Soviet government acknowledged the various advantages that kettlebells could give its working citizens; and an official commission required mandatory kettlebell training for the masses, relying on the kettlebell to increase productivity and to decrease the healthcare costs of the country.

To this day, nations of the old eastern bloc rely on kettlebells for implementing the training of many of their athletes and armed forces.

Kettlebell lifting also developed into an official sport, with the first competition taking part in 1948.

The kettlebell rise in the West kick started once more in 1998 when Pavel Tsatsouline published an article about them and then began teaching his way of using them to the American public in 2002.