May 5, 2017


What is Hardstyle Kettlebell?

Hardstyle is the style of Kettlebell training popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline, who brought Kettlebells originally to the US. It’s the way that is today taught in the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certification) school and in StrongFirst.

This style can be summarized by high intensity and few repetitions. Power optimization is the key rather than power conservation. Each rep should look just as powerful no matter if it is 12kg or 48kg. This style focuses on a balance between high tension and relaxation.

Tense the muscles. Because muscles produce force by tensing. Maximize the tension.

Tense the joints. Because a loose joint absorbs the force meant to go elsewhere; it “leaks” power and is easily injured.

Focus on breath and a strong core. Because pressure from the core increases strength.

Move from the ground. To maximize stability and to take advantage of the reactive forces.

Hardstyle Kettlebell training is the practice of the total compression skill. RKC teaches how to focus the scattered energies of the body into a directed all-out effort while minimizing the odds of injuries.

Originally, “hard style” referred to martial arts like Karate which concentrated total body muscle tension into one extraordinary effort—“one punch, one kill”. When Pavel Tsatsouline served in the Soviet Special Forces, his unit was among those who had adopted a Karate-based style of hand-to-hand combat. The hardstyle of kettlebell training was born to support this hard style of fighting.

Determined to take the skill of strength as far as possible, Pavel researched every possible venue that could be of help, ranging from reading obscure neuroscience papers and old Soviet bio-mechanics texts, to picking the brains of gymnastics, power-lifting, and arm-wrestling elite.

Power-lifting coach Louie Simmons has said it best: “Pavel has reverse engineered what the strongest athletes do naturally.” This is Hardstyle.

It boils down to reverse-engineering the techniques that the masters do unconsciously, then compiling and explaining those techniques in plain language. Such techniques include: compound movements, appropriate timing of body tension, power breathing, not training to failure or exhaustion, strength as practice, doing fewer things better, etc.

What will hardstyle kettlebells do for you?

If you have been around the block, the hardstyle techniques will noticeably and immediately improve your strength in pull-ups, pistol squats, kettlebell military presses, one-arm push-ups, handstand push-ups, and a variety of killer abdominal drills.

If you are new to strength, you will learn how to do these lifts right or, if you have a long way to go, get a clear set of individualized instructions for mastering them.