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The secrets of animal fitness

Ok, this will be a revealing post. Some people have asked me, ”how do you maintain that skiny-weak -look trought the years, even when you seem to eat like a total pig??” Well, part of the answer is obviously kettlebell training, but in the video below, I’m revealing the real secret…

… kettlebell training in a Bear suit, that’s obviously!

Here’s Steve’s account of the Figth To End All Fights we had in Oulu:

BTW, since Steve, Nazo and John  are linking to this blog, I’ve decided to tag all the english language posts, so they can be rrsdt and mashed up and all that.

You can find all the english posts trought this link:

And the RSS feed for the english posts will be:

(will start tagging the old posts soon, so Bear with me)

Making sense of all the kettlebell mess, part 1

What is the big picture of kettlebell sport and fitness organisations in the world? I wil try to make some sense of  them but it’s not easy…

The big picture

I’m trying to sort out all the different kettlebell related international organisations. Just typing about them is a mess, so I decided to ”draw”.

This pic above is a simple version of the current international organisations. And by international I mean an organisation that operates somehow in several countries. There are several more fitness orgs and I’m not really sure if AKC should be in both fitness and GS?

It doesn’t help a bit that it’s quite hard to get info on the actual events of all these. Sure, all of them have websites but there’s no one view to see all the events of different orgs.

I didn’t list all the country organisations for two reasons: I don’t know all of them and they would not have fit on the pic.  IKSA is mentioned separately because it’s a distinct entity, as it offers certifications and is not a country org. I’m not really sure if it should be under fitness or GS or both, and if it is a company or non-profit. Well, doesn’t really matter for this drawing.

So there’s at least one problem. There’s no way to quickly find out all the member orgs of the international GS federations and their contact info. I think of all these three, IUKL has the most up to date website, but it has parts that are very old. You can get in contact with IUKL and WKC people by email in english if you are not in a hurry.

Also, a second problem: Who to contact? Which is the actual governing body? They all say that they are but what makes an org more powerful than the other? They are all separate entities.

I have two wishes for the future of international GS: just one federation, with an up to date website of the activities. Maybe some day. It will take time for sure but I don’t think GS will go to the Olympics with several Governing Bodies 🙂


Also, below is a picture of the finnish Girevoy Sport ”scene”.

So, The Finnish Weightlifting Federation is the governing body of GS as a sport in Finland. Governing body means that they regulate the official rules, records and championships competitions. Under that federation there’s clubs and committees. All of these orgs are non-profit. I listed only things relative to kettlebells, so there’s only the three currently operating kettlebell clubs.  Each club can arrange unofficial meets, but all need to apply for a permission from the federation if they want to arrange national championships for example.  So far, meets have been organised in here by Finnish Kettlebell Association and Girevoy Sport Lieto.

The Finnish Kettlebell Association (where I’m at) also is the representative of the IUKL in Finland. This means that we can participate and vote in IUKL meetings and can compete in their competitions.

Also, there’s the kettlebell committee, which operates under the federation. They have members of the kettlebell clubs and the federations and their job is to work on the rules and other national kettlebell sport issues. Here’s the committee’s current members (in Finnish):

Thougths on the different orgs

So, why not join also IGSF and WKC? Well, being a member of an international federation costs money and it also requires you to actually take part in the meetings. Also, I’m not really sure if WKC and IGSF are active in working in western Europe, which is something that is interesting for the growth of the sport. So far, IUKL has been very open about us competing in their competitions, and we have received invitations from all of the orgs to compete. And, I also really wish that in the future there would be only one international federation, so maybe there’s no reason to join all of them.

Right now, in my view it looks like IUKL will ”win” the battle of Europe with IGSF, because they have so many new countries and very good old ones also. Of course, it all depends on open communications with all the countries, to really push the big competitions and the sport from the east to the west.

There’s also many kettlebell related companies in Finland, at least 5 that sell kettlebells and many others who also sell courses, workshops and private lessons. But, I’m not starting a drawing of those 🙂

Mixed up?

Thoughts about the kettlebell certs I’ve been to

Last weekend I was assisting in the IKFF CKT cert course in Oulu, Finland. I was attending the same course in Barcelona last year. This time, I had the change to follow from ”the outside” how Steve and John taught. The emphasis of the IKFF cert is how to teach the basics to other people, not so much on refining each lifter’s own tehcnique to the fine details. They teach the fundamental issues, like how and why and where power should be produced and what are the preferred body positions for safe lifting. These principles apply to any lifts and any stunts. This is good stuff for someone who wants to teach kettlebells for fitness to anyone, for example in personal training, in gyms, etc. because there’s emphasis on how to break down the exercises and what are the typical problems.

I’ve been to some other certs and compared to those, this gives a person more tools on working with others. I think all the certs have has a different approach and different goals, so it’s actually pretty hard to compare them one to one. But, I will post my thoughts and opinions on them anyway :). Last year, I attended the IUKL 1st and 2nd level Girevoy Sport coaching course in Ventspils. (since then, the course structures have been changed). It was led by Vasily Ginko, and the goal was to teach how to coach kettlebell sport athletes. So, we went trough the basic lifts in detail, and covered also massage and nutrition issues. The mindset was in Girevoy Sport, and how to increase performance in that. Good stuff. These courses have now changed to IKSA GS courses.

Before that, I also attended a finnish cert, which taught a variety of exercises with kettlebells and also mobility. The way of teaching was giving the person a huge amount of exercise examples, not focusing on any lift in detail. This was like a catalog of different exercises and their variations, good maybe for someone who thinks ”you can do only this and that” with weights. This course is now the IKSA fitness kettlebell course. A fun course but too much variety for variety’s sake in my opinion.

I haven’t been to the RKC and AKC certs, so no idea how they approach kettlebell lifting. Well, I have some idea of course, based on friends’ experiences but not personal experience.

For the, all of these have given me some tools on how to approach my own teaching and training. IKFF CKT has been the most beneficial for me on teaching to others, IUKL was beneficial for GS and the third one gave some new ideas about mobility exercises.

As for recommendations, before attending any cert, I would recommend practicing the basics for many months to a year and getting in good (not necessarily great) shape. Think about what you want to get out of the course, why you are going. All of the courses have a great deal of physical work, so it’s good to be in such a shape that you can work a lot and still focus. For GS, the primary learning tool in my opinion is one’s own lifting and especially competing. If there’s a change to be reviewed by a more experienced lifter, use it. Ginko is a good teacher, and if he’s doing a full GS course, it will be good stuff. For general fitness and teaching others I recommend the IKFF CKT.

For one’s own personal training, I recommend getting together with other kettlebell enthusiasts and just training. The basics aren’t that hard, it is really the common man’s or woman’s sport. Learn the basics well, add in variety from DVDs and/or youtube for fun, mix and match according to your goals. Just my opinion.

So, to sum up my recommendations:

I know the basics, want to teach others in a gym, a group, my own personal training business -> IKFF CKT

I train GS, know how to lift but want more details and info about program design -> Ginko GS international level

I mention these because they are generally accessible as buyable producs. Of course there are other GS coaches in Russia for example and you can travel there and try to find someone. In general, I think if one’s a GS athlete or a coach, the significance of a cert is minimal. I mean, for a sport, performance and getting better at the sport mean something, papers don’t. I think the IUKL cert is aimed at us westerners, who really have no idea about GS, to learn the basics in a good way. So, while the papers are not important, the information about the history and time tested approaches of the sport indeed are. In the fitness industry, the papers are probably more important. I think the IKFF has a good reputation for offering quality courses, so that’s why it can be valuable to have that sort of certs if you are thinking training others and charging money from it. Of course, even in that, the personality and skills are more important than any papers.

Well, it all depends on so many variables that all the ranting is pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things anyway 🙂 Accept no bullshit, train hard and have fun are good principles for kettlebell certs too! 🙂

Kanahyppy kahvakuulalla – The Kettlebell Chicken Jump

Alla kuvattuna uusin ja hienoin kahvakuulaliike, suoraan toiminnallisen harjoittelun huipulta. Valitettavasti kuvan laatu ei päätä huimaa mutta tulevalla DVD:llä näette kyllä varmasti kaiken ja vieläpä monesta eri kulmasta. Tämä liike on nimeltään kanahyppy kahvakuulalla, ja se on siis nimenomaan kahvakuulaliike. Käsipainolla ei kannata yrittääkään.

Aika hämmästyttävää itseasiassa että yhdellä liikkeellä voi samaan aikaa harjoittaa tasapainoa, vartalonhallintaa, hyppyä, vetoliikettä ja älykkyyttä! Kannattaa ottaa tämä ohjelmaan mutta ei missään nimessä ilman ammattilaisen ohjausta.

Tässä videossa yhden kahvakuulan versio.

In the video below, you can see the lates ultimate kettlebell exercise, straight from the top couches of the kettlebell functional training world. I’m sorry about the video quality, but I promise it will be a lot better in my future DVD and there will be multiple angles too. This exercise is called The Kettlebell Chicken Jump, and it should be done with only a kettlebell or two for optimal results.

It’s completely amazing that one exercise can develop balance, body awareness, jump, pulling and intelligence. I recommend taking this movement to your training routine but not without consulting a pro first.

In the video below you can see the one kettlebell version.

The Basics, and Fun

Today after the IKFF workshop, I was talking to the others and thinking about the stuff we did and will teach. At first, when I started with kettlebells 4 years ago, I was dying to find out all the possible movements and excercises there were. I thouth, that a training session needed to have as many different exercises as humanly possible.

Then, I got to the GS world, with a very detailed approach to the 3 basic lifts. There’s and endless array of details about each position of each lift. Just like there’s probably a thousand different kettlebell exercises.

What these have in common are the fundamental issues, like good mechanics, safe technique and body awareness. So, when you know the basics well, you can jump into any variety of the Turkish Get Up and just do it. (btw, I think that it’s funny that there’s so different ”styles” of the get up, because it’s essentially just getting up with some weight. But whatever rocks you yacht).

Right now I think that the basics are the key to progress, and it’s also good for the head to fool around with stuff like lifting other humans, doing Chicken Jumps and just having fun basically. Mentally, it’s very enjoyable to laugh and lift heavy stuff in between intense timed set sessions.

Putting the fun back in functional and the fundamentalism!

IKFF CKT in Oulu, Finland, day one

Today was an interesting and intense kettlebell experience in the Oulu course. I got to meet the gigantic and very nice Jonh Wild Buckey, and had a good learning experience when being as an assistant instructor in the course.

Afterwards, we saw some crazy swings and I got in a friendly but deadly serious Bear-MMA-Fight with Steve Cotter. 🙂 Good times, good people. Tomorrow, day two, looking forward to another many hours of training.

In Finland we have this thing called ”the best kettlebells ever”.

In Finland we have this thing called ”the best kettlebells ever”.

Cross World – finished

It’s done. Almost a hundred lifters from many countries. Some insane lifters did many lifts on different days, which is very positive. Great job people!

All the raw data of the results are here:

I’ll do some ordering of the results later this week.

Functional training for Golf

Check if out, and be careful out there!

The ultimately best magical way to train for GS

As far as I know, kettlebell sport aka GS aka Girevoy Sport is about long sets with kettlebells. That’s because the aim is to do as many reps as possible in the 10 minute time limit, without setting the bell or bells down. Every rep requires a fixation, which means the bell or bells must stop. It also requires a lockout, where the elbow and knee is locked. So, the lifter and the bell pauses for as lomg as it takes for the judge to count and approve of the lift. You must snatch or jerk, no pressing is allowed.

How to get the most reps with a distinct fixation in ten minutes? Well, the lifter needs to have the fixation and lockout down, before he/she can have even one rep. Then, he/she must be able to perform the jerk or snatch, with a proper fixation and lockout several times during those 10 minutes. He/she must also have the ability to rest between reps, because setting the bells down is not an option.

There’s at least:
– technique – for getting the bell overhead with fixation and lockout
– strength – enough to make the lift
– endurance – enough to make the lift several times
– ability to relax – so that the lifter can recover between reps

The amount of possible relaxation depends of course on the pace. If one lifts at 15 rpm, there’s not many seconds to lift between reps. This also means that the work capacity of the girevik must be pretty good, in order to last the 10 minutes.

Anyway, I seem to get lost in looking at the point of this post. There are several ways of training for the sport event, which is the competition. One method suggests that we do 6+ minute sets with different paces, to build the ability to do 10 minute sets. Other methods advocate doing multiple shorter sets, building slowly to a smaller number of sets and making hem lonnger. There’s also methods where we count kilograms, and build volume trough that. There’s also different opinions on how to build different periods in a training year, where some of the time is devoted to building volume, and some of the time is about building intensity.

Which is the best way? i have no idea really. I believe in SAID, which means that if I want to be able to do long sets with kettlebells in the classic lifts, I need to practice doing long sets in the classic lifts. It seems unwise to push balls to the wall every training session, so maybe a some sort of variety in RPE and actua work done is in order? Also, maybe it’s a good idea to sometimes to long sets and sometimes shorter?

BUT, I am an amateur lifter, with a limited time to train weekly. My schedule is full of family and work related events, and it makes me wonder should I really care about any kind of bigger periods? If I can do good reps and good number of longish sets in a year for example, I think I’m learning and progressing. The only way to really tell is going to competitions and test the ability for real. But, I like the idea of working in a simple way. I mean, to dig a ditch, you must dig a ditch.

Kettlebell organisations in the world, as of beginning of 2009

Kettlebells have been repopularized in the western world for 10 years now. There’s many stories how things came about and why, but the important thing is that now we have some level of exposure to the tool and how to train with it.

There’s many organisations who sell kettlebells and kettlebell related products and training services. There’s some fighting over what’s the best way to use the tool, and what is the best model of kettlebell.

A new kettlebell related organisation has been formed, called IKSA. I don’t have much details about it yet but I know that it’s director is the world famous GS lifter and coach, Vasily Ginko. The organisation offers training programs related to kettlebells. There will be a site soon, I’ve been told.

Non-profit orgs

Ok, so now there are several kettlebell related organisations. As far as I can tell, there are two international federations, for Girevoy Sport:
IUKL – International Union of Kettlebell Lifting
IGSF – International Girevoy Sport Federation

Also, related to Girevoy Sport, there are several national and local associations that organise competitions and promote the sport. Such as Girevoy Sport Australia and the NAKF and Finnish Kettlebell Association. Some of these national organisations are members of the international ones. Both of the federations organise world championships and such big events.

Commercial orgs

Then, there are several organisations that offer training, kettlebells, instruction, certifications etc. Such organisations are:
IKFF – International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, Steve Cotter
AKC – American Kettlebell Club, Valery Fedorenko
RKC – Russian Kettlebell Certification/Challenge, Pavel Tsatsouline
IKSA – Vasily Ginko

There are countless others but these are the most well known. Also, Rmax International is offering something related to kettlebells as well, and Crossfit offers a kettlebell certification. If one wanted, he/she could have many certifications from different organisations.

Also, in many countries, there’s countless of kettlebell coaches, teachers etc who offer one to one and group training.

So it seems that there’s at least good changes of getting some kettlebell related education 🙂

Who would have guessed that there would be this much organisations ten years ago?

Personally, I have been involved with IUKL trough competitions and a training course, and with IKFF trough certification training. My love is in Girevoy Sport, but I like IKFF because they take the classic lifting skills from Girevoy Sport and teach them so that a ordinary person can benefit from them.

Statisticals and general ramblings

Here’s some data from WordPress, the page views per month since the beginning of this blog.

Months and Years

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2006 209 1,227 1,023 1,412 1,112 1,086 2,166 2,865 2,683 13,783
2007 3,319 4,162 4,145 3,649 4,042 3,070 3,696 4,606 4,716 4,465 5,346 5,366 50,582
2008 6,030 6,672 6,785 8,922 6,657 8,068 5,337 5,623 5,761 7,090 7,175 6,658 80,778
2009 2,208 2,208

And here’s some other data:

Total views: 147,347

Busiest day: 535 — Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Postst: 1,131

Comments: 1,654

Categories: 60

Tagit: 52

Ok, doesn’t say nothing about quality of course 🙂 I guess the beginning of the year is a time for checking what’s been happening. This year, don’t know much about what will happen,  I have training goals and some workshops planned but the calendar is pretty open and I like it that way. Last year was full of courses and traveling and teaching. This year I will teach or co-teach some workshops, for example assisting Steve Cotter in Sweden in May and teaching KB lifting basics under he Finnish Weightlifting Federation in February. Other highlight of the year will be the Ventspils Atlants tournament in Latvia in August. Other than that, training, writing and doing some video.

I’m open to suggestions about workshop or private teaching or co-teaching 🙂 Until now I haven’t made much commitments because the year’s schedule has been kind of ”open”.

Finland´s Girevoy Sport History – Karl Fazer Challenge

Info originally found from the blog of Caestus (Finland´s Girevoy Sport History « Caestus: The Extreme Girevoy Sport Records Blog) and also in the book Raskasta Rautaa by Finnish Weightlifting Federation (

”Karl Fazer wins weightlifting competition in 1888 with two new Russian records in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Finland was part of Russia). Karl Fazer Jerks with one hand 16,4 kg (1 pood) kettlebell and winning results was right hand 112 times and left hand 85 times.”

Karl Fazer is most well known in Finland because he’s the founder of the chocolate company Fazer. But, he was also the first finnish girevik!

To honor his record, made 120 years ago, here’s a challenge named after him:

The Karl Fazer Challenge:

16kg (women 8kg):

one arm jerk, one hand switch, unlimited time, no setting the bell down

only the reps after 197 are taken into account.

Please, post your scores to the comments 🙂

In finnish:

miehet 16kg, naiset 8kg

yhden käden työntö yhdellä kädenvaihdolla, kuulaa ei saa laskea välillä alas. Pisteitä aletaan laskea kun 197 toistoa on tehty. Ei aikarajaa. Voit laittaa tuloksesti kommentteihin 🙂

Also, don’t forget to eat that good blue chocolate after your work is done! 🙂

EDIT: Päivitetty sivu Karl Fazerista suomeksi:

Free world, with celebs too!

Thrierry writes down some very major good points in his post:

Those are very good points in my opinion, and also the point about a one true way. People will do what they want anyway, but sharing what you think is good is a good way to go. I traing GS but don’t have illusions that everyone likes it or is even remotely interested. I still love it and keep doing it 🙂

Also, Thierry mentions that Jennifer Aniston from Friends is using kettlebells to sculpt her physique 🙂

Positiivista palautetta … ja The Blacklist

Sain Steve Cotterilta tosi mieltä lämmittävän palautteen, laitoin sen tietty hei myös tuonne SKB -saitille.

”Marko Suomi to me represents what is great about kettlebell lifting and kettlebell sport, embodying the most important principles and habits that one looks for in a coach.

First he has a sincere love and passion for the sport, this passion is contagious! Second, he has a sincere interest to improve himself and to serve others. Third, he is hard-working and humble. Lastly, he is talented and dedicated. He has all the ingredients to lead you on your path toward improved health, fitness and high-end performance.”

— Steve Cotter, Director IKFF

Suositukset – Endorsements « Suomi Kettlebell

Tuollaisesta tulee kyllä hyvä mieli. Päinvastaistakin on toki tullut, esim. se huhuttu 40 liikunnan ammattilaisen kirjoittama lista siitä että yhdistyksemme toiminta ei ole heidän mielestään kahvakuulaharrastusta edistävää tms. No, toisaalta on hyvä että löytyy ihmisiä, jotka ovat huolissaan välineen ja lajin tilanteesta mutta väittäisin silti että olisi ehkä hyödyllisempä tehdä asialle jotain sen sijaan että kirjoittelee tuollaisia adresseja 🙂 Tosin, en ole listaa itse nähnyt, eli voi olla että sitä ei ole olemassakaan? Jos on, haastan tuomaan sen 7.12. tapahtumaan, jotta voimme käydä aiheen tiimoilta rakentavaa keskustelua.

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