Kettlebell Sport v. Kettlebell Hardstyle - What's the difference

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I like to compare the difference between Kettlebell Sport and Kettlebell Hardstyle to the difference between running middle distance (800m) and running a sprint. While middle distance and sprinting are both essentially the same body movement, the technique used for the two varies greatly. Neither style is more right or wrong than the other - they are just different.

Take a look at the video below for a side by side comparison of the two styles for the swing and snatch (featuring Lauren Brooks):

Main differences in Kettlebell Sport and Kettlebell Hardstyle

Here are a few of the main differences between Kettlebell Sport and Hardstyle kettlebell lifting:

Kettlebell Sport: 

- Pendulum swing
- Anatomical breathing
- Train for strength and endurance
- High repetitions at low intensity
- Long sets (sometimes 10-20 minutes without setting the kettlebell down)
- Main goal is efficiency so more repetitions, heavier weight, and longer time can be completed with less effort
- Technique is used for Kettlebell Sport competitions and has great carryover to martial arts and other endurance sports

Kettlebell Hardstyle: 
- Hinge swing
- Biomechanical breathing
- Train for speed and power
- Low repetitions at high intensity
- Complete repetitions or short timed sets (sets of 5-10, or timed sets of 60 seconds or less)
- Main goal is to utilize maximum muscular tension and minimal rotation to optimize speed and power
- Technique is used for fitness and sports that require sprint speed and power production

Kettlebell technique and styles

Perhaps most important to mention is that the two kettlebell styles have more commonalities than differences. The movements are the same: kettlebell swing, clean, press, push press, jerk, and kettlebell snatch. Both kettlebell techniques will increase strength and cardiovascular fitness. Both styles require learning a skill that takes time to perfect - lifting kettlebells is not easy or intuitive for a beginner.

I always remind beginner kettlebell lifters that “Any skill worth having takes time to learn.” If training with kettlebells was easy, anyone could do it. There is more value in a skill which took time to develop - the journey to proficiency is more exciting and the payoff more rewarding.

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

Want to learn more about Sport style kettlebell lifting? Check out this article, American Kettlebell Alliance, International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, and Orange Kettlebell Club

Brittany is a San Diego based personal trainer who teaches Hardstyle group fitness classes and coaches Kettlebell Sport athletes. To schedule a personal training session (for Hardstyle or Sport), email info@kbfitbritt.com.