The AKA competition at the Arnold Classic was presented in collaboration with Ivan Denisov and the WAKSC. At this event, different result calculations were used to rank athletes into more competitive categories in individual weight categories and also to calculate the absolute winner in each category. Ivan developed this system after observing the results of competitions and the subsequent awarding of medals. The following is a discussion of some of the issues he noted as a result of his careful observations and how he set out to resolve these issues.
Ivan Denisov, a lifter with many achievements and accomplishments.
- Honored Master of Sport
-14-time World Champion
-4-time European Champion
-17-time Russian Champion
-Absolute World Record holder in jerk and long cycle with 32 kg
-Best result in 10 min in jerk 176 reps, snatch 238 reps, Long cycle 116 reps, biathlon 287 points.
In his career Ivan has achieved over 30 World Records!
Championships in the US
Overall Champion of Mr. Olympia Tournament 2014, 2018
Overall Champion of Arnold Classic 2017, 2018, 2019
In over 16 years Ivan has not been beaten in all levels of competition!
-PhD in Physical Sciences and Coaching Science
-MBA in Government Management
In his career, Ivan has spent an extensive amount of time working in kettlebell sport.
From 2008 – 2012, he worked with WKC company.
In that time, Ivan did over 30 seminars of kettlebell sport and kettlebell fitness in the United States, Australia, Greece, Finland, and Italy.
From 2012 – 2015, he worked as the Head Coach of Juniors Russian National Team. Ivan’s Junior National Team won all International competitions in the time he was coaching them. During the time he was coaching, he continued to do international seminars.
In 2014, Ivan began work with KetAkademy – International system of kettlebell certification as Master Coach.
To date Ivan has taught over 200 seminars of kettlebell sport and kettlebell fitness all over the world including: Costa Rica, Brazil, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Scotland, England, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Finland, and France.
In his coaching career he has prepared 5 World Champions, 6 European Champions, 1 Honored Master of Sport in Russia, 7 Masters of Sport Russian International Class, and over 20 other Masters of Sport.
Ivan may be the most decorated kettlebell lifter in the sport and his list of accomplishments continues to grow. In the most recent WKSF World championships in Ireland, Ivan not only won top awards but earned two new WKSF World Records.
Ivan has not only been consistently dedicated to his own training over the course of his long and ongoing career, but also has been dedicated to teaching other athletes how to lift successfully and safely. In one conversation he stated,
“He enjoys inspiring others to be healthy and fit.”
In Ivan’s sport career there have been many different tables that govern the absolute champion in the Gyra sports. One of the biggest problems in the definition of the absolute champion is the continuing development of efficiency and technique. Efficiency of athletes is constantly growing, with significant growth occurring in light and medium - scale weight categories.
In individual weight categories it is easy to determine a winner.
The highest ranked, the athlete who has earned the highest number of points in the competition always wins. This is an easy result to calculate. However, determining the athlete who has met the highest standard, the athlete who has performed the highest above the average in their individual category and then comparing those results across categories is where the difficulty lies. It can be said that the overall champion is the athlete who has gone furthest from this norm should earn the title of Absolute Champion. In all tables that govern the calculation of determining the absolute champion, results were multiplied by a predetermined factor.
Ivan saw a need for a newer statistically calculated comparison and a method that would increase the amount of competition amongst athletes at an individual event.
Ivan noticed that with traditional scales that only compared athletes for the award of Absolute Champion there was very little actual competition amongst athletes for division first place medals. For example, if there are 7 weight categories for men, 6 different bell weights, and the option to lift in 10 different disciplines (with more potential disciplines in the near future) that would be 420 different award categories and 420 different opportunities for an athlete to place first in a division. And this number does not include the differentiation of veteran, junior, or open age categories. If that factor were to be added that would increase that number to 1,260 different award categories just for one individual competition. At many local or even national competitions there are relatively few lifters in each category and even at the largest World Championship competitions the numbers in each category do not increase drastically. Athletes would win a medal just by presenting themselves at a competition, and oftentimes the medal earned was gold.
Limiting competitive disciplines to increase competition was not a viable option.
One option was to limit the number of disciplines for athletes to compete in. Limiting competitive disciplines would force athletes to modify their competition lifts. Although this solution would increase the number of athletes in categories it would also result in the loss and exclusion of athletes who were either not able to or not interested in switching disciplines. The current goal of kettlebell sport worldwide is to increase the number of participants and grow the sport, not to eliminate current options for lifters and alienate lifters from the sport. Ivan recognized that limiting disciplines was not an option. He set out on developing a system to group athletes of different bell weights. He recognizes that there should be a separation of amateur and professional athletes to allow for fair and productive competition of amateur athletes. He also realized that a professional athlete may at times, compete with less than the maximum kettlebell weight due to a recovery from injury or other factors. But in the same realization, it would be inappropriate for former professional athletes to be grouped with amateurs. His system groups multiple kettlebell weights into professional and amateur categories to allow for more athletes to compete against each other for individual awards. Athletes remain in their weight categories but there are multiple bell weights that will be awarded for placement in the same group. For example, women in the 68+ weight category lifting both 12 kg and 16 kg kettlebells would be ranked and awarded placement as 68+ kg amateur athletes. Women in the 68+ kg weight category lifting 20 and 24 kg kettlebells would be awarded placement as 68+ kg weight category professional division.
Ivan made comparisons between records in each weight category and developed a scoring system. He later statistically verified the reliability and validity of that system.
To determine the factor used to develop his scoring table Ivan considered the distribution of records for different ranks in each weight category. He found a midpoint between each of the different ranks and placed those results into a table where he noticed an almost perfect arithmetic progression between the numbers. He called these his baseline figures. He then divided each of his baseline figures by the range of scores in each rank category to determine the coefficient to determine the numbers for the scoring table.
He initially called his table experimental before performing repeated checks of the ability of the table to rank athletes using different kettlebell weights but in the same body weight category. The results of his checks concluded that there was less than a +/-5% variation between the table and athlete results. Ivan is confident that this method of comparing athletes is statistically valid and reliable. Thus, it can be concluded that the table accurately assigns place in determining one winner in a weight category, for athletes using different kettlebell weights.
Ivan has advice for athletes trying to navigate this new system and determine which kettlebell weights to compete with. Many athletes unfamiliar with the table are asking if they should automatically be competing with heavier to gain a competitive advantage with his system.
This is his response:
“There is an opinion that if you want to become a professional gyrevik, you need to lift only heavy weights. Exercises with heavy weights look preferable, but only when the athlete is ready to lift them. Girevoy sport is often called a cyclical sport and at the same time used methods of training athletes that other cyclical athletes use. A cyclical sport is a sport in which the movement is not only the same, making a cycle, but the movement is carried out nonstop. The minimum frequency of movements in cyclical sports is 22-26 per minute (rowing academic) and in weightlifting we are in a static position for a long time. It is this position on high pulses and causes the most severe sensations. It is enough to reduce the weight of the kettlebells and increase the frequency of movements, as the training process will be more comfortable and dynamic. My recommendations for moving to a higher weight in training with the following training standards:
snatch -180 reps, jerk - 120 reps, long cycle of 80 reps. If you are not able to meet this minimum, you must achieve this result first, and then move on to higher competitive weights.”
In closing Ivan states,
“My tables allow athletes of different weight categories, lifting different weight kettlebells to reveal absolutely the best gyrevik of competitions.”
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