29Apr, 2009

Kettlebell Training Dogma

Kettlebells should be called Kookyballs, they make people go nuts and battle all day long on the One True Way to use kettlebells. Although there are certain laws that should be followed such as proper bio-mechanics… the bottom line will always be results.

The best kettlebell training program is the one that produces results. Programs might differ according to  goals and desired outcomes.

Trying to reach different goals through the same program over and over again is a recipe for disaster. Let’s stop the dogma…different goals…different programs.

There is no One-True-Way to use kettlebells…only the best way to program for results and within a certain context.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as I know some people are very passionate about kettlebell training. Shot me comment below. Thanks again.

Posted by jason | in Home | 28 Comments

Comments on “Kettlebell Training Dogma” (28)

  1. James Sjostrom


    I like what you have to say. I am sure there are more differences within the RKC, AKC, Kettlebell Concepts, CrossFit, and others as there is differences between them. If only a certification made the trainer. I believe it is the trainers that make the certification respectable not the other way around. Can’t we all just get along?

    James Sjostrom RKCII

  2. keith

    Good stuff bro.I feel ya on KBs not being the only tool.So many guys I train with wanna snatch & clean KBs all day long,but don’t wanna try to learn the BB version, they get shocked when they see me doing TGU & Windmills with a barbell,like i’m breakin some kinda law.Just like you don’t wanna come in and do the same exercises every training session you should try to change up the tools which you use to do them.

  3. Boris Terzic

    I agree that there is too much dogma in Kb training. There are differences in training approaches depending on your goals, but so are there in any other form of training.

  4. Mike Stehle

    Another nice post!

    Peace, Love and Kettlebells!

  5. Pat

    This is so refreshing. I got certified with Dragon Door. I love the program, but sometimes it feels like if you are not doing it Pavels way you are doing it wrong! I am acutally looking for a new place to workout. Is there an email address I can send some questions too. I don’t live to far from you and I’m looking for classes or small group training and use of a pull up bar


  6. Sandy Sommer, RKC

    I agree with you. I chose to become an RKC for my own personal and professional reasons. No one could convince me it wasn’t right for me and it seems to get results for the folks I work with as well. Bear in mind that most of my clients are looking to get back to where they were, physically and mentally, years ago.

  7. admin

    Hey James,

    Those are very wise words. Great comment.

  8. admin

    Thanks Keith,

    I hear you. Somewhere along the line Windmills and TGUs became a kettlebell movement.

    I have some very old wrestling books that highlight those exercises and they’re not performed with kettlebells.

    I do like those exercises with kettlebells but there’s no need to always perform them with kettlenells.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. admin

    Hey Pat,

    Email me at Jason @ KettlebellAthletics.com.

  10. admin

    Hey Sandy,

    Thanks for always speaking up. I appreciate your point of view.

  11. admin


    Thanks bro! How’s the water you bastard?

  12. Mike Stehle

    Warming up to a balmy 47 degrees!

    Been doing some of my wo’s on the beach.

    Dude, I just password protected the site. Call me!

    Pat, go train with Jason and Pam! Wish I could!

  13. Johnny D

    Jason – Good point….but it was a long verbal path to you getting there. I like the overall message though. – Variation is a wonderful thing!

    - Johnny D

  14. Richard Sherrod

    Hi Jason,

    I think you are just “fanning the flames”. Here is why.

    I am very thankful that I learned kettlebell lifting several years ago from an expert right from the start, Valery Fedorenko. I need not list his credentials. Here are some of the things he told me:

    “There is no style in the lifting of kettlebells, only correct and incorrect technique.”

    “There is nothing with kettlebells I have not tried. I only teach the things that work.”

    “Kettlebells are used for Fitness, Feats of Strength, Juggling, and Competition both amateur and professional.”

    “Even in Russia they make some improper kettlebells”.

    “I dare them to try it, and call it soft!”

    Watching some of your videos of you and your students, you display and teach poor technique. I’m not trying to start an argument here, you sent me an email today, and several in the past week or so telling me that my kettlebell training program might suck. I have always thought that your videos show poor technique and while I have not seen any of your DVD’s I bet they also show poor technique.

    Some of your statements are true. There are many tools for training, not just kettlebells. Of course kettlebells can be used to train for your sport, no matter what it is. In my opinion they are the best way but not the “only” way. If you are going to be good at your “sport”, you must do it and focus on that. Too many other things may actually hurt your performance in your “sport.”

    Yes kettlebells can be used for bodybuilding, but how many bodybuilders use them? Certainly not the pros. Just as a professional kettlebell athlete does just that, jerk, snatch and long cycle. Most of the pro kettlebell athletes also run, row, swim or cross county ski. But they don’t do bodybuilding exercises, nor do they do windmills, turkish get ups, and other “feats of strength.” Not that an amateur or fitness person may do those but the pro lifters generally do not. Their training is very simple, focused, and most likely the most grueling in the world.

    I am glad to see you have some “competition kettlebells”. Having the proper tool is very important. Kettlebells of all different shapes and sizes, varying handle size etc. are what really suck. Along with poor technique, it’s what keeps the kookyball war going. Not to mention, marketing hype.

    Keep training, refine your technique and come to one of our competitions to show your numbers!

    Richard Sherrod
    American Kettlebell Club – Coach – National Champion
    World Kettelbell Club – Master Trainer – Official – Judge

  15. admin

    Hey Ricard,

    Thanks for your great reply.

    I have also worked with VF at least on 3 occasions well before the AKC was even formed.

    You make some great points and others I just don’t agree with. Please understand, we have had great success with a diverse clientele using our poor technique. And not one cared how well their elbows reached their hips…or what their LC RPM was.

    I understand that some, very very few, but still some people are actually concerned with those issues and I respect that, just not blinded by it.

    P.S. I emailed you because you subscribed to my newsletter. You can unsubscribe by clicking the link that says “unsubscribe” at the bottom of each email.

    Thanks again.

  16. Boris

    Yeeeeeshh Rich! Talk about fanning flames!

  17. Aaron Vyvial

    Honestly, I agree almost completely with Richard. The science of KB training is more efficient movement and economy of motion and improving the true KB lifts.

    KB’s are a specific tool, designed for a specific reason. Can you do turkish getups with a KB? Yes, but you would get more benefit from a barbell TGU. Can you do Curls, yes and so on.

    KB = clean, press, snatch, swing and variations

    Just because you can do a lot of exercise with the KB’s doesn’t mean that they are the best choice. KB squats would never replace a BB back squat. If the KB is all you have then by all means do squats and TGU and whatever you need but certain tools were designed for a certain purpose.

    Making up lots of new exercises for KB’s is just inefficient training IMHO. It keeps you from truly mastering the KB. Which was how may training was going for years after RKC, Renegade and CST.

    With Respect,

    Aaron Vyvial

  18. dave parsons

    Jason, Nice reply to Messieur Sherrod. Very professional. No “fanning of flames” from your response. KB’s are just a tool and if you are only into Girevoy Sport, then nothing else matters (or could ever be “right”) as you see the world through “GS eyes”. And I’d have to agree, based on those tenants that everythinjg else does “suck”. But, they are only a tool in a fitness package and as you say, many have made tremendous gains with the kookey bells doing things “their own way”. Power on my friend!!!

  19. jerry gray

    Hey Jason,
    Liberty Gray has all the certifications plus RKCII, I have 2 ,the RKC and the IKFF. Liberty has a studio which started 2 years ago with 3 classes and now has over 20 in a town of 15K people. 19 of the competitors at the Arnold were from her club, 17 medaled, 1CMS and #1overall female amateur. She curently is working with high school athletes using HS, we use both GS and HS in classes and I teach a group in GS preparing the WKC in Chicago in August. At 68, I’m probably one of the oldest competitors. Both systems work, I love the flexibility of our programsm there is so much to learn it never gets boring. This is the fountain of youth.

  20. marko

    “Kettlebells should be called Kookyballs, they make people go nuts and battle all day long on the One True Way to use kettlebells.”

    A fine post! I don’t think kettlebells are to blame, but instead false claims and hype in marketing, companies pushing their own systems for market lead, lack of good rational non-commerial info and generally the fact that kettlebells are still new to us westerners. I think this all will calm down someday. and then we have real data on how different training modalities work for different people. Now all we have is claims, commericials and subjective testimonials.

    I love kettlebells ans GS, but don’t love misinformation.

  21. John Hirsch

    Hey James,

    I agree those are very wise words. Thank you for all you videos.

    with respect

    John Hirsch

  22. Steve Gurtowski

    Well said, Jason.

    If I’m revising a clients program, developing one for a new client, or changing my own routine, the first question I ask myself is “What is the goal?”

    The goals of the trainee dictate both the program and the tools used to implement the program. Although I personally like training with kettlebells, I don’t use them exclusively. As we all know, if you stick with one training protocol, you will see good results for awhile, but if the training goes on for too long without changes, you reach a point of diminishing return.

    Kookyballs, huh? I’d proudly wear that on a t-shirt!

  23. Steve

    Wow…interesting that someone would take (waste?) time making a video to comment about the ongoing debate of one style of KB training vs. another. FWIW the debate will continue among the dogmatists — with or without your video — which will only fuel the debate. And, like your video, the debate will result in a massive waste of time by those committed to the debate.

    At least your video did state the obvious — “the best KB program is the one that gets results.” However, the first step in determining results is to understand the goal of your client and developing a program that will cause your client achieve that goal. Once we determine the goal of the client an astute trainer will determined the training modality or modalities, which might include HS KBs, or GS KBs, or no KBs!

    While many of us do train the athletes from time-to-time, most of our training is devoted to the “average Joe” (or Jill). And the number one goal of most of our Joes or Jills is simple — lose weight (which means lose fat). With that in mind, I had a recent conversation with a person who was a devoted HS KB until the last 8 months, when this person set a “goal” to become proficient enough with the GS KB to compete. After 8 months of GS KB they were disappointed — not in their fitness level, but in the change in body composition (more fat) and loss of strength. While their fitness level remained they lost the hard, “ripped” look (which most of our client’s want) coupled with a noticeable diminution of brute strength.

    Now that illustration is not meant to trash GS KBs — as those competitors have unbelievable endurance and skill — but is merely an illustration of determining a training program based on the client’s “goals” or objectives. That is why are you training, or what are you training for?

    With or without this video the debate will continue — although I’m not sure why, except that most of those involved in the debate seem to be KB “trainers” focused on the wrong assumptions.

  24. Spida Hunter

    Bro, don’t be Dogmatic is universal law to LIFE!! People live in a Right vs Wrong way of doing sh**, the reality is as you have said, their are foundational laws that once you understand them you can manipulate them to suit what you are trying to achieve!!

    Please don’t leave this message to just Kooky balls! Expand your mind beyond what you perceive to be true!!

    I just did a video on it so I’m “Right”

    Primo stuff again brother

  25. Rolando Garcia, III

    You’ll go crazy if you go to Irongarm, Jason.

    People who have time for dogma have too much time on their hands in general. Train hard, get results, plain and simple. If you have time to tell people “you’re wrong/I’m right”, I’d focus on spending more time getting better results.

  26. Gerald Bagby

    I watched your video and have to say that I agree with you one hundred percent. When training with kettlebells(or any other implement), the main question that should be asked is “What am I trying to accomplish?”. The answer will dictate what methods should be used. Should a marathon runner train like a sprinter? Should a powerlifter train like a gymnast? I agree that there are laws of biomechanics and technique that must be followed in every sport, but does that mean there is only One True Way to train no matter what sport you’re in? Weren’t kettlebells originally used in a system of weights and measures for commerce? I guess if there were only One True Way to use kettlebells, nobody should be exercising with them. In my experience, those who are the most dogmatic about their methods are the least secure in their beliefs.

  27. gavin van vlack

    there are no bad movements only that those that are used out of context to the desired goals.

  28. Antonio Cordova

    Great Post Brother, keep them coming…..

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