Kettlebell Sport v. Kettlebell Hardstyle - Which is BETTER


“You’re more likely to hurt your back doing hardstyle kettlebell swings.”  “Kettlebell Sport is the lazy way to lift kettlebells.” 

There are many communities within the world of kettlebell lifting. Even within each style there are multiple governing organizations that lead certifications and teach varying lifting techniques. The people that compete in Kettlebell Sport have a completely different method of training with kettlebells than those who do Kettlebell Hardstyle lifting - and these two groups are often at odds with each other.

So which group is right? Which style of kettlebell lifting is better, more efficient, and leads to more fitness gains?

Here’s where you’re expecting me to say “it depends.” 

It depends is part of my answer. Yes, the style of kettlebell lifting a person chooses to train depends on their goals.

Which style of kettlebell lifting is better?

Do you want speed and power, glutes and hamstrings that fire properly, and an efficient workout? Go for Kettlebell Hardstyle training. Lifting kettlebells for fitness is absolutely a great workout with numerous benefits. But Kettlebell Hardstyle workouts are just that… workouts. The end goal is to get fitter and stronger, or possibly just to increase weight lifted with good technique.

Or do you want strength, power, endurance, mental tenacity, and goals that provide motivation beyond just being fit? Do you want to be an athlete with the potential to travel the world to compete? Do you want to join a fast-growing community of supportive, motivated, like-minded competitors that is open to all ages and fitness levels? Kettlebell Sport training offers something beyond the realm of general fitness.

There is definitely a time and place for Kettlebell Hardstyle lifting. I use hardstyle kettlebell swings myself to improve glute activation for my deadlift. I enjoy teaching and participating in hardstyle workouts, and believe they are fun and provide enormous benefit.

HOWEVER… what you’re getting from Kettlebell Hardstyle lifting is a workout. What you get from Kettlebell Sport lifting is a passion, a hobby, a sport, a skill, a goal, and often - a lifestyle. I’ve seen Kettlebell Sport turn so many people's lives around because they began to see themselves as an athlete, and because the community around the sport supported them in that goal.

Obviously I’m biased towards Kettlebell Sport because I’m not an active member of the Kettlebell Hardstyle world (where I’m sure there are similar success stories), but this article is an explanation of why I am passionate about coaching Kettlebell Sport and why I travel the globe to spread the Kettlebell Sport gospel.

What are your thoughts on the benefits of either Kettlebell Hardstyle or Kettlebell Sport lifting? 

If you are not familiar with the differences between Kettlebell Sport and Kettlebell Hardstyle, here is a brief explanation.

Want to learn more about Kettlebell Hardstyle? Check out Dragon Door and StrongFirst.

Want to learn more about the Kettlebell Sport? Check out this articleAmerican Kettlebell AllianceInternational Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, and Orange Kettlebell Club

Brittany is a San Diego based personal trainer who teaches Kettlebell Hardstyle group fitness classes and coaches Kettlebell Sport athletes. To schedule a personal training session, email