The Role of the Kettlebell at StrongFirst

When our Masters, Seniors, and Team Leaders checked into their hotel rooms before our recent meeting, each was greeted by a bottle of vodka, a jar of pickles, and a note welcoming them to the Phase II of the Russian kettlebell invasion.

It all started in 1998 when MILO: Journal for Serious Strength Athletes published my article entitled Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettlebell Lifting, and Other Russian Pastimes. Up until that point, it had been easier to find honest arm measurements than a kettlebell, as Dr. Randall Strossen put it. Fast-forward fifteen years. Today you would be hard pressed to find a gym in the United States that does not have kettlebells.

The role of the kettlebell

Next to the vodka and pickles, the StrongFirst leaders found a note welcoming them to Phase II of the Russian kettlebell invasion. Now that kettlebells are everywhere, the next step is to put an end to the YouTube amateur atrocities that pass for kettlebell training and teach every aspiring girevik to do it right. It is the mission of SFG (“G” for “girya” or kettlebell), StrongFirst’s flagship program.

The Role of the Kettlebell at StrongFirst

While strength is the focus of our organization at large, SFG pursues broader “extreme fitness” with strength at its foundation. Some of you believe I have taken a hard right towards 1RM strength and abandoned all the great benefits the kettlebell brings us—conditioning, fat loss, health, and so on. I have a Russian joke for you.

Two women run into each other in the city and have a conversation:

—I heard through the grapevine that you are mad at me. Why?

—Remember the last party at my house? After you left, a very expensive silver spoon disappeared.

—I did not take your spoon!

—I know, I eventually found it. But a bad aftertaste remained.

I did not take your spoon. The kettlebell is here to stay. We own it.

Yes, there is a strength bias at StrongFirst. Because there is no other way to achieve the “extreme fitness for hard living comrades” ideal. Strongman Earle Liederman observed back in 1925: “…what is endurance except continued strength?” We build endurance, mobility, and other qualities on an only solid foundation—strength. Hence our name—StrongFirst.

Note: A while ago a kid posted a passive-aggressive thread on our forum, “just saying” that without endurance you are nothing. Rob Lawrence responded, “Yes, that was the reason the name ‘StrongOnly’ was rejected.”

Regardless of your goals, your entry point into strength ought to be the kettlebell. Not only because of the additional conditioning, flexibility, and health benefits, but because the kettlebell, when professionally used, teaches priceless movement lessons that prepare you for safe and effective barbell and bodyweight strength training. Even if you have paid your dues on the barbell or the pull-up bar, enter the kettlebell and you will become a much better barbell lifter or bodyweight strength athlete than before. I guarantee it.

The StrongFirst system is centered around principles, not around tools. We are on the same page with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program: “One mind, any weapon.”

One Mind Any Weapon

That said, a Marine will choose his M-16 over his fist or K-Bar whenever he can. The kettlebell has the same preferred status at StrongFirst. This is our roots and our weapon of choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Phase II of the Russian kettlebell invasion!

“Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated.”

The role of the kettlebell

Old-time kettlebell master Ivan Lebedev observed, “If the mankind knew how easily strength is to develop, there would not be weak people at all.” Come to a one-day SFG Kettlebell Course taught by our most experienced instructors worldwide, and see for yourself. Russian kettlebell power to you!

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Pavel Tsatsouline
Pavel Tsatsouline is the Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc.

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