Choice of Events: note : all events are of 10 minutes maximum duration
Women are in Russian competition restricted
to the snatch event , with either a 12 or 16 kg kettlebell. Some believe the
double kettlebell jerk event may be injurious to the female breast, and for some women this may be so. However in
2007 the World Kettlebell Club has introduced a biathlon ( One arm jerk plus snatch) as well as a one
arm long cycle
event - in which women can attain kettlebell sport rankings.
Men have a choice of :
1) Snatch only
2) “Traditional” – a biathlon consisting of double kettlebell jerks from the chest position , with the
snatch event following after a recovery period
3) “Long Cycle”, where the 2 kettlebells are cleaned from a hang position to the chest , jerked overhead and
then returned to the hang to complete one repetition, and so on - resting as needed in the hang or rack.
Competition kettlebells for men are
16kg (35lb) (juniors<18 , seniors>60) , 24 kg (53lb) (masters over 40) and 32kg (70lb) (adult male any age - "elite”
Women use a 16kg bell.
In modern Russia where the sport is highly
developed , national competitions now employ 40kg bells (men) and 24kg bells (women).
As Girevoy sport is new in the West , competitions
are usually run with a choice of weight as the aim is to attract new individuals to the sport without risking injury at early
stages of training. The natural tendency as one becomes more proficient is to use an heavier bell however this is not mandatory.
In addition , not everyone has the funds to stock a full stable of Kettlebells.
For established national and international
contests however, competitors are expected to use the minimum weight specified for their age division.
How to train
Successful training requires a plan and
most of all commitment to stick to the plan without under or overtraining. One has to be mindful of past injuries or limitations whilst
developing an awareness of the symptoms of overtraining . The girevik will generally need to practise 3-4 sessions a
week , though the nature of these "lessons" is quite variable - depending upon level of competence , perceived weaknesses
and event-specific goals.
As in any sport requiring specific skills
, eventually considerable time will be spent performing the actual competition lifts .There are in addition many types
of assistance exercises for both snatch and jerk events. Generally , snatch assistance follows a snatch workout and jerk assists
follow the jerk training.
Program variety is encouraged to maintain
capabilities in all areas of general fitness , flexibility , strength and power. Training combines slow strength lifts (grinds)
with ballistic and plyometric drills which translate directly into the competition lifts.
In general , one is training alone. The
disadvantages include lack of direct coaching and lack of camaraderie. The advantages include developing one's own set
of analytical skills which allow one to troubleshoot and then modify the program according to requirements.
Training alone allows complete attention (mindfulness)
If you are a newbie and are training alone
, initially practise in front of a mirror . If you can ,videoing a session will assist in critical analysis of your
It is highly instructive to watch videos
of the experts (see training resources - You Tube girevoy sport) - taking notes and experimentation is part of the self-learning
Nothing in GS is easy, but
making progress is immensely satisfying.
General Principles of GS training
Girevoy sport training is gruelling and
very few athletes train year round. It is wise to dedicate a season to GS training as in other sports ; this will target
any competitions the athlete may wish to enter. The “off season” can still utilise kettlebells as the mainstay
of a conditioning program , and most gireviks find it hard not to use their kettlebells each week.
In simple terms , training for competition
(or peaking for a personal best) is generally divided into three phases , each of 1- 2 months duration.
A strength building and general physical conditioning phase
A volume-building phase,
Pre-competition intensity-building phase and competitive intensity-maximising
Phase 1) ensures the back , legs and shoulders
have the necessary strength flexibility and stability to easily perform each rep with perfect form. This may achieved with
a combination of bodyweight , kettlebell and if available , barbell exercises.
Recovery time is relaxed however lessons are reasonably lengthy. General conditioning is very important e.g. regular
hill running with an emphasis on developing strong legs and cardiorespiratory function; many find rowing or biking are useful
low joint-impact adjuncts.
In broad terms , the larger the base of
the pyramid, the higher the achievable summit.
Phase 2) further builds the work capacity necessary
to achieve the highest potential for that cycle, plus develops the necessary mental toughness. At first the athlete may have
a hard time completing the full 10 minutes. It is best to start with a light kettlebell,
focus on rhythym and aim to build duration of effort , but not focus on total reps.
This forces attention on pacing , a skill which requires attention to form and resting where required - skills which
hone efficiency. Phase 2 requires increasing the volume of work whilst slowly decreasing the recovery time between
sets. Over time the training emphasis moves more towards power endurance and de-emphasises pure strength
drills , which at this stage should be optimal and in a "holding pattern".
Phase 3) is geared towards improving intensity
i.e. the work rate , and consists of multiple sets emphasizing high repetition lifts (up to 70-90% max efforts) to
reinforce the groove of efficient & rhythmical lifting whilst further developing mental toughness. Density-style
training involving gradual compression of rest periods with the ultimate goal of translating a "multiple
set fragmented total work capacity" in to a single competition set delivering the maximal work capacity that has
been earnt over the foregoing months.
During this phase the athlete should develop
a strong sense of timing and of planned rest periods to enable maximal work efficiency.
In particular athletes who start at a fast pace risk hitting the anaerobic threshold , from which it is very difficult to
recover.As in a running race , it is better to finish fast in the latter part, reaching the lactate threshold as the time
In phase 3 the total volume
of work (weekly "tonnage") may be slightly decreased or maintained whilst the intensity (work rate) is amplified.
Tapering a week or so before
a competition is mandatory . On the day you should be mentally fresh & keen .