About AKA

Who is The American Kettlebell Alliance?

The American Kettlebell Alliance (AKA) was founded in January 2012 with a simple purpose: to promote the growth of world-class kettlebell lifting in the Americas. The strength of this purpose has propelled the AKA to become the largest and fastest growing kettlebell sport organization in the Americas.

The goal of the AKA is to promote kettlebell sport in accordance with international (IUKL) standards by supporting individual athletes, coaches and clubs. The AKA achieves this goal by:

  • Providing information about kettlebell training, techniques and skills
  • Organizing workshops, clinics and professional certification programs
  • Sponsoring tournaments and other competitive events
  • Publishing a unified ranking table based on international standards

Today, the AKA is recognized as the official representative of the International Union of Kettlebell Lifting (IUKL), the sport’s governing body.  As an international group, we also strive to strengthen friendship and cooperation between nations though competitive sport.

As kettlebell coaches and athletes, we recognize the health and fitness benefits of kettlebell lifting for athletes of all ages.  We actively promote the development of sport mastership among athletes at the junior, adult and senior levels. The AKA is a nonprofit organization; we welcome all to join who share the goal of promoting kettlebell lifting.

All AKA members are independent but agree to hold competitions according to the rules and standards of the IUKL.  Members may charge participants and spectators whatever they wish for such events and keep any profits; AKA does not charge fees or require any payment from members.

Top AKA lifters also qualify to become members of Team USA, the official team selected to represent the United States in the IUKL World Championship held each November. Since first competing in 2013 Team USA has progressed to being the 5th ranked kettlebell sport team in the world out of over 50 countries participating.

About Kettlebell Sport

Kettlebell Sport, also referred to as “GS Sport” or “Girevoy Sport” is not what it seems. While watching a GS Sport event one can easily assume it to be some sort of weight lifting competition. On the contrary, while weight is involved GS Sport, unlike Power or Olympic lifting, is an endurance sport. Kettlebell Sport requires athletes to lift a submaximal load as many times a possible in 10 minutes. But, one can “win” a kettlebell sport competition and not complete the entire 10 minutes. Frequently in competitions athletes will end their set in less time. Shortened sets are likely the result of overtraining, lifting a heavier weight than he or she is accustomed to, or lifting at a faster pace than one trained. Successful GS athletes have perfected their lifting techniques, flexibility, strength and power, proper breathing patterns, aerobic capacity, stability and mental focus.

Lifters compete against other lifters in similar weight classes. Competition kettlebells are all a similar size with identifying colors, 12 kg blue, 16 kg yellow, 24 kg green, and 32 kg red. There are two main lifting categories – Professional and Amateur. The Professional category is not about salary. Rather it is about lifting weight. Men’s Jerk and Long Cycle are performed with two bells, women’s Biathlon and Long Cycle are performed with one bell. Men and Women’s Snatch are performed with one bell.

Male professionals lift 32 kg (70.5 lbs) and Women lift 24kg (53 lbs). Amateur lifting weights are 12kg (26.4 lbs), 16kg (35 lbs), 24kg (53 lbs). The lifting categories are: The Long-Cycle consisting of a swing, a clean, and a jerk, Snatch, and biathlon two lifts, first there is a set of kettlebell jerks for ten minutes, followed (after a break) by a ten-minute set of snatches. When one bell is used, the lifter is allowed only one hand switch, and each lifter has ten minutes to complete as many repetitions of the determined lifts as possible without setting the kettlebell(s) down. Although there are not points awarded or deducted for style, it is mandatory that the knees and elbows are straight at the top of each lift, and that the momentum of the bell(s) is stopped overhead in order to receive a count from the judge. If this is not achieved, there is a “no count” for the lift attempt.

So what is a kettlebell, and where did it come from?

Unlike traditional free weights, a kettlebell’s center of gravity is extended beyond the hand. This shift in mass helps creates the ballistic momentum that is the essence of kettlebell lifting. Its unique shape is what sets the kettlebell apart and makes it the perfect tool for building grip, wrist, arm, and core conditioning.

The “modern” kettlebell’s immediate roots can be traced back to the mid-1700’s in Russia where a similar device called a “pood” was used as a unit of measurement. One pood weighed 16kg. Like American Basketball, GS contests began when farm hands began playing with them while waiting for wagons to unload. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century. They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s. Similar strength tools resembling kettlebells were used long before the 18th century. In ancient Greece, one weighted implement called the haltere was similar to the modern kettlebell in terms of movements.