What is a kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle on. They come in different sizes and weights, and are usually made of cast iron. From the side it can look like a coffee pot – hence the name kettlebell.

There are theories that similar weights were used both by the ancient Greeks and the Scots in early times, but what we know today as kettlebells come from Russia, where they are called Girya. The word appeared in Russian dictionaries in the 1700s, but the meaning of it is nothing more than “heavy thing”.

There are two main explanations for the origin of kettlebells. Some believe they were used to keep in place the cover over the harvested grains. However, this may be a misconception because they are often described as grain weights. The most common explanation is the fact that they were used as weights in the market place to measure the grain, potatoes and other crops that were sold. It is said further that on market days with little pressure from customers the sellers would play, lift and juggle with market weights – maybe not just to make the time to go – but also to impress the ladies a bit with their tricks and their strength. The development has gone from there to become an established form of exercise for both athletes and police in Russia – and then spread over the rest of the world in the last 60-70 years. Now there are world wide, European and national competitions in kettlebell sports.

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