Kettlebells and Heavyhands

Russian Girevoy “Kettlebell Sport” Postage Source: Wikipedia

Russian Girevoy (Kettlebell Sport) StampA discussion on the HeavyHands Yahoo Forum  came up recently about Kettlebells and HeavyHands.

One factor that came up is something this author wasn’t aware of… there are two rather different schools when it comes to doing kettlebells… a “Rigid Style” and a “Fluid Style”.

As Steve Cotter (Amazon Author Page Link) noted in Crossfit magazine, the differences are these:

Rigid style:
• Hip action: choppy; forced overextension
• Head/eye position: locked into horizontal; restricts
hamstring function
• Breathing: opposes movement; exhale coincides
with trunk extension
• Grip: maximal tension
• Arm: locked out horizontally; the arm supports
the entire load

Fluid style:
• Hip action: natural extension; neutral alignment
• Head/eye position: follows movement; allows full
activation of hamstrings
• Breathing: coordinates with movement; inhale
coincides with trunk extension
• Grip: only as much tension as is needed to hold on
• Arm: relaxed and slightly bent; load supported
vertically by base (feet)

The former is associated in the U.S. with the “Russian Kettlebell Certification”, and, the latter, with “Kettlebell Sport” (for example here).

Based on that cursory description, the “Fluid Style” seems to fit in with Dr. Schwartz’ “HeavyHands” philosophy a bit better.


The closest parallel between published “HeavyHand” lifts and Kettlebell work is likely Dr. Schwartz “Double Ski Polling” with hands outside the knees or, another one, the “Dumbbell Swing” with both hands grasping a dumbbell between the legs. Both involve bending from the waste lifting the weights high something like kettlebell movements. Neither uses momentum quite to the degree a kettlebell does and – in later years especially – Dr. Schwartz strongly advocated controlled and slower movements.

The fluid style, like Schwartz’ HeavyHands, has athletes train to perform the maximum number of lifts possible within a 10 minute span during competition requiring continuous movement. Some records are for 175 lifts in this time frame! The rigid style tends to emphasize a relatively small number of repetitions.

As all purists notice, once “pure” forms of sport come to the United States, everything blurs and amalgamates!

When the kettlebell is used to promote weight loss as in the Tracy Reifkind book “The Swing!” (Amazon Link), the use of the kettlebell taught in the “Rigid Style” is used to promote achieve results associated with a long set (“Fluid Style”) of up to 10 minutes!

Those having experience with HeavyHands and Kettlebells may, of course, have a different take… If so, please leave your comments below!

As always, train at your own risk… any exercise can be dangerous let alone one where you swing a “Cannon Ball with a Handle”! 

6 thoughts on “Kettlebells and Heavyhands”

  1. My current training incorporates both kettlebell complex training and heavyhands. I hope to soon add another dimension to my kettlebell training by adding a chain cadence to compliment a complex cadence. I have recently made a video of my Heavyhands 7-movement medley. Let me know if you have an interest in it. Thanks for the good information you are making available at your website.

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