Kettlebells: Have you wondered where these funny looking cast iron balls with handles came from?


Kettlebells: Have you wondered where these funny looking cast iron balls with handles came?



You’ve probably noticed those funny looking heavy balls with handles popping up in gyms and fitness classes. In recent years, you’ve probably noticed them on Biggest Loser  and have wondered where they came from and why they are spreading in popularity. You might be surprised to learn that kettlebells were popular to be photographed with strong men and weight lifting champions in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The bells showed an impressive use of strength and were often used in shows to highlight the strongman’s capabilities and incredible lifting abilities. Today, kettlebells are popular as one of the most effective means to scorch fat because they burn an impressive 20 calories a minute! 


Although strongmen loved kettlebells, the first documented use of kettlebells can be traced back to 1704 when the word girya was added to the Russian dictionary. At that time, kettlebells were used as counter weights for Russian farmers to weigh against produce and other market goods. A pood is 1 kettlebell weighing 36 lbs. Farmers discovered that the weights could be used as a fitness tool and gradually sport and competitions arose as village’s battles each other. In the 20th century, the Russian military adopted kettlebell exercises to improve stamina, endurance and flexibility. It wasn’t until the 1940s, however, that kettlebell lifting became the national sport in Russia and it took until 1985 for Kettlebell sport to become an official sport with rules and regulations written by the All State Sport Association of the USSR.


Even though Russia is credited with the invention of the kettlebells, it is not the only place of origin for kettlebells. Russia does deserve credit for bringing about the great popularity of kettlebells, however, earlier versions of the kettlebell can be tracked farther back than the 1700s in Russia.

                Kettlebells are a variation of the early primitive dumbbells. Dumbbells can trace their forerunners to the Greeks and a weight called halters. As the use of dumbbells advanced and moved across pre Europe and Asia, the localities changed and adapted the weights to their own needs and circumstances. Modern dumbbells moved west and kettlebells traveled east. In ancient China, the Shaolin Monks used stone padlocks in training that closely resembled modern kettlebell training. In Greece and Rome, warriors used cannon balls to train and compete in feats of strength and endurance. The highlands of Scotland claim to have originated kettlebells with their use of curling. Curling is a game that is often played on ice and involves a weight pushed with broomsticks and thrown over a high bar. It is still played to this day.


Yes, like many modern games, words, and tools, kettlebells have a deeply varied history. However, in modern years, it was the Russians who introduced kettlebells to the world. In navigation invention, we celebrate the Wright Brothers for first inventing aircraft, although dozens of other inventors had proto-type airplanes. These many other simultaneous inventors don’t get to share the credit for the first flying machine. In the case of kettlebell history, it makes sense to credit the Russians for the invention of the kettlebells because they made this widely used tool popular. An invention without popularity is just a family secret. 



     Do you still want to learn more about kettlebells? Check out our list of Kettlebell fun facts! They will interest you and make you more of an expert about the history and uses of Kettlebells. 


Carmen, Bernal 2015. History of Kettlebells. Self growth 2009. Web

Cotter, Steve. Sept 30, 2013. Kettlebell Training. Human Kinetics, 2013. ISBN 1450463460, 978145046346 retrieved from web June, 2015.  

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