A Little Bit of History
The Russian Kettlebell isn’t a name created for marketing. They truly did originate about 350 years ago in “Mother” Russia. Typically the tools of a typical farmer, kettlebells were used for measuring dry goods and as counterweights for certain farm equipment. Maybe it was boredom, a simple fascination or a true desire to build fitness, either way farmers and others began throwing them about for entertainment and eventually weight lifting. After the second World War, lifting with kettlebells had become Russia’s national sport. By being declared a national sport, kettlebell lifting spread into the training routines of Olympic teams and the Russian military.
Kettlebell history isn’t just from Russia though. With time kettlebell lifting became very popular among strongmen. They began to use these versatile weights in their daily training. From this point, the kettlebell started to spread across Western Europe and eventually ended up in the hands of American strongmen. If you’ve ever glanced at some old time pictures (early 1900’s) of these early strongmen, it’s very likely you cast iron kettlebells would catch them holding a kettlebell. As time progressed, the use of kettlebells slowly waned from the west as newer alternative approaches to bodybuilding were introduced.
Cast-Iron vs Steel Kettlebells
Steel kettlebells are typically designed to be Pro Grade Competition weights. The difference is that steel competition kettlebells always have identical dimensions despite weight. This means that whether you are lifting an 8kg or a 48kg kettlebell, it will (in theory) always rest on your forearm in the identical place if your technique is the same. These steel bells are usually certified by kettlebell associations for lifting competitions.
Steel is also a bit more durable than cast iron, but it is not to suggest that a high quality cast-iron kettlebell will fall apart. It’s just scientifically known that steel is stronger than cast-iron and for that reason more durable. Why do you think the use of cast-iron was phased out over time in the building of ships, structures, construction equipment and several other items? They are virtually indestructible and have less imperfections. Because of this higher level of durability, you generally pay more for competition weights when looking to buy kettlebells. Don’t get me wrong, steel kettlebells are great, but don’t expect a very good cast iron kettlebell to break in your hands because it’s somehow inferior. If you want to annihilate that cast-iron bell through overuse, I’m going to place my bet on the kettlebell to kick your butt all over the gym floor.