competition bells

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JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I went to a new commercial gym today for the first time in a long time. I had the whole kettlebell and TRX area to myself. I actually enjoyed it. All th bros were hanging around the shiny machines in groups grunting and sitting playing on their phones.

I practiced with competition bells today for the first time and loved them. My 70lb the handle is too short and the bell rests right on the wrist. It's like arm wrestling a giant. The 32kg competition bell felt so easy in comparison because it rested perfectly on the forearm. I did a get up with a 16kg and 36kg in one hand and it felt really secure, and kept a vertical forearm easily.

My 80lb, 40kg, and 48kg sit on the forearm nice, but my 70lb and under sit right on the wrist. They are fairly painful and harder to keep the wrist vertical. I did not know how crappy they were until I used some expensive competition bells.

Will try some bent presses tomorrow. Looking forward to it. They will really confuse the gym rats.
 
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MikeTheBear

Level 6 Valued Member
I recently sold off some of my cast iron KBs for competition bells because I want to do some competitions and because they are so darn nice. My wanting to do competitions was just a good excuse to get some comp KBs. They really do have a good feel to them. The one criticism I hear is that the thinner handle provides less of a grip workout. Not really. Once you get into a groove snatching a comp KB you'll be able to get in more reps - at least that's my opinion. More reps means you're holding the KB longer, which challenges grip endurance. Comp bells by no means take the grip out of the equation.

As for cost, another post on the forum talked about how the Russians changed the official diameter of the comp bell handle from 33 mm to 35 mm. Who knows why. As a result, it seems lots of places are having sales on their 33mm comp bells. Check ebay for KBUSA's comp bells - they're cheaper than some cast iron ones.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Just remembered this thread as I am contemplating selling the kb's I have (only a 16 and a 25 kg) which are iron/hardstyle and replacing w/ same size GS style. What prompted this is that I have very small hands and have been working for couple months now trying to master a hook grip on the 24 instead of palming it. I can "hook" the 16 kg easily but the few millimeters difference in handle thickness make a very big difference; to hook grip the 24, the full weight and force of it needs to be out towards the tips of my last finger joints only. Don't know if that is common but I certainly have found strength to be lacking for that. Forcing myself to go with it, I get noticeably less power in my swings than if I palm the handle. Why hassle? I am looking toward future snatches etc w/ the 24 which I can't yet swing high enough to drive into a snatch but for sure would not be able to catch on the drop at this point.

Few weeks ago went into a sporting goods shop in nearest city and found that they had all iron bells except for one 32 kg comp bell. Swinging that was a bit intimidating but a real revelation in terms of the handle. I do need to have pinkie fingers outside for two handed swings but that seemed comfortable enough and more importantly, easy pleasy hook grip!

So question--are there disadvantages (aside from hand fit) to practicing hardstyle with comp bells?
 

MikeTheBear

Level 6 Valued Member
So question--are there disadvantages (aside from hand fit) to practicing hardstyle with comp bells?
None at all. There may even be an advantage in that grip becomes less of a limiting factor and you're more likely to stop a set due to overall fatigue as opposed to grip fatigue. Translation: You'll be able to do more reps and more work. KB ballistics are meant to be a full body exercise, not a grip exercise. Having said that, as I mentioned in another post, it is a mistake to assume that the thinner handle eliminates the grip factor. Grip endurance is very much a part KB sport.

Wait, there may be some disadvantages:

Once you go comp bell you'll never go back.

You may be tempted to do a KB competition in which case you'll adopt more of a GS style as opposed to hardstyle. Once you start using the GS style it seems to stay with you.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks Mike. For 100% certain I will never be tempted to compete! I have enough trouble not harming myself by being over competitive w/ "me" HAH! Just not the type personally more truthfully.

And the grip/handle thickness is in fact my main draw to the comp style bells!

So that likely seals the deal. Just have to decide on brand and start working on selling what I have to get the $ to replace...
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
RE: WKC VF ProGrade has the below printed on site:

Notice: VF ProGrade Kettlebells™ are made of a softer metal than the extremely hard and durable VF Precision Kettlebells™. Scratching, marking or denting are possible if impacted or thrown, or used for dragging or juggling.

Anybody have experience with these to know just how "soft" they are? Daily use for singles only, indoors...
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Also, Vulcan Absolute Training Bells claim wider handle so easy to do two handed swings etc...but I can't seem to find any specs onsite that give actual, usable width to compare to other bells esp classic hardstyle kind
 

MikeTheBear

Level 6 Valued Member
Geoffrey,

Here is a pic with dimensions. To be honest the handles are somewhat narrower on comp bells. That's because most KB sport athletes rarely, if ever, do two-handed swings. It's just not sport specific. I'm a stocky guy with hands that are on the wide side (short fingers, though) so 2H swings were always a bit awkward for me. I now have a T handle that I can load with Olympic plates for really heavy swings, and the handle is wide enough so 2H swings are comfortable. With my comp KBs I only do 1H swings.

The main difference is that the traditional KB handle is curved which allows a bit more room for the pinky fingers. The straight comp KB handle forces you to "crowd" your fingers. It is still possible to do 2H swings, just a bit more awkward, at least for me. But like I said, it's not an issue for me since I *need* to work on being strong with the single arm swing. Heck, Federenko himself thinks 2H swing are *wrong* and may lead to the end of the world.

 

MikeTheBear

Level 6 Valued Member
Here is my review of the comp bells I have used:

KBUSA Paradigm Pro "Classic:: I own several of these. Great price. Some minor quality issues on the handle. There was something "sticky" on the underside of one of the handles and my 32 KG handle actually needed sanding because it had some burrs. No big deal. KBUSA now makes an "elite" comp KB with the 35 mm handle and much more expensive.

MDUSA: Bought a second 32 kg from MDUSA because they were having a sale. Same dimensions as the KBUSA so no big deal at all. Only the color is different (black, while the "official" color for a 32 is red) which makes me look eccentric training with two different colored KBs. In theory all comp bells should be the same dimension so there should not be an issue of crossing over brands. Good price on these KBs even without the discount, but MDUSA regularly has flash sales with 10-20% off. Handle was perfect. MDUSA handles are slightly thicker - 1.5 inches even on their comp KBs according to the description.

Ader: Used a 24 kg once at a gym. Because comp KBs all have the same diameter, the lighter ones have some hollow space. With the Ader, the weight inside came lose and "rattled" in the hollow space as I used it. Annoying. Don't own one won't buy one.

No experience with the new VF. I imagine the flat area would make racking the KB a bit more comfortable. This is fine for someone not interested in competing, but unless this style catches on, I will continue practicing with the round KBs because of specificity. My guess is that the "softer" metal is iron rather than steel, which is the material used to make most comp KBs. Used the "old" VF KBs at a competition and they were fine.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks to you both. Seems many have 33 mm thick handle and many have 35 mm thick. Varies brand to brand. I was interested in space between uprights i.e. how much room for hands because Vulcan claims more on their training bells. No clear info on site so I just called them and was told 5 1/4" or a bit under which comes to around 133 mm. Can't find it now but on some site read theirs was 123 mm post to post inside which means just a little over 1/3" difference, not a lot!
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Emailed Vulcan early today and just heard back and in that they said 5" space inside handle. Guess "opinions differ"
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
@GeoffreyLevens, I have 10 of them. I can check them all later this afternoon. I wrote a lengthy post about them sometime last week if you want to search for it.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
@GeoffreyLevens, I have 10 of them. I can check them all later this afternoon. I wrote a lengthy post about them sometime last week if you want to search for it.
That right there is a pretty good endorsement! I think I am just wondering if the difference between them and
Paradigm Pro® Elite Precision Steel and Paradigm Pro® Classic Steel
are significant enough to be worth considering. And that is probably a personal call in the end but I have zero hands-on knowledge/experience of different comp bells, and with only a few different brands of cast iron hardstyle kind
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Think I found your post here Kettlebell style conundrum! and seems to answer my question above. I definitely want comp style bells. I currently have Rogue classic iron ones and thought the texture has not really bothered me, I have not done anything even close to high volume for several years! Have fantasies about reaching "Simple" goals and then going to something with more volume for a change, like long cycle c&j though I am pretty fond of one handed singles work over doubles for several (irrelevant) reasons
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Done. Turns out local PT is buying my iron bells, just a couple miles from home so no shipping no hassle.

Ordered replacement 16 and 24 kg Paradigm Pro® Classic Steel Competition Kettlebells should have them by the time I am well enough from viral bronchitis to get back into it. PARTY!!!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Once you go comp bell you'll never go back.
I did - sold all the comp bells I had bought, don't have any now. Let's play devil's advocate on bell handle thickness.

Is it necessarily good that you can use a bell you can't hold onto with the thicker handle? Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. Grip becomes the limiting factor - for building a resilient body, this seems good to me. You want to have a stronger grip, e.g., I have always felt it was a good balance of strength attributes for myself that, when I couldn't pick up my heaviest deadlifts, I could still hold onto them.

Along the same line, I had a chance, a couple of years ago, to do a Health Lift variation at a USAWA meet - it was a straddle deadlift with a standard bar but done in a power rack off of pins that were 17" off the ground. My lifetime best deadlift is 364 lbs. @ 148, and at the time of this meet, it was near that, maybe 350. I tried, and got - !! - this lift with 405 lbs. The point is that my grip wasn't my weak point, and if I had more leg strength off the floor, I'd be able to deadlift 405, too.

Is this all good? I can't say, but I can say that, as a balance of attributes, I like it. When your grip is strong and your abs are strong, you are, with rare exception, strong all over.

No science claimed and your mileage may vary, but that's my personal story and one of the reasons I prefer to use the thicker-handled kettlebells and also sometimes do deadlifts with a fatter-than-standard bar.

-S-
 
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