In September of 2009 I had been training with Russian kettlebells for about two years. My own collection was a hodgepodge of bells that I had picked up whenever and wherever I happened to find them. I had heard of Girevoy Sport (GS), and that they used standardized bells, but had never been interested until I went up to train with Adam Glass for a week. Adam was a professional strongman who was in the middle of a GS experiment. He was using a couple of pairs of Perform Better kettlebells for his long cycle training.
I had heard of Perform Better and received their catalog, but was still excited to see the differences between their kettlebells and the others I had used. The most interesting thing to me is that they are all the same diameter and size, irrespective of their weights. Meaning that cleaning a 16kg bell will not be any different than cleaning a 32 kg bell. It will weigh less, sure, but the size is identical.
Why would this matter?
For competition, it is important that nobody has a distinct advantage or disadvantage. If everyone got to bring their own kettlebells to the GS competitions, it would be harder to take a pure measurement over who was accomplishing what–the playing field would not be level enough. This doesn’t downplay what anyone can accomplish with a non-standardized kettlebell, but they just aren’t right for competitions.
After getting home from that week with Adam, I ordered a pair of 28 kilo kettlebells from Perform Better. They are a snazzy blue color. Each pair of bells is color-coded for the different weights to make them easy to identify. Adam had a yellow pair of 16 kilogram bells and a couple of orange 32s.
Differences in handle size
This is the other noteworthy difference. The handles of the Perform Better bells are squarish, while the handles of most other bells range from rounded to a ridiculously wide oval shape. (Think of the ones you have seen Jillian Michaels swinging on QVC).
I think the square handle is great for the GS events, but I also have found them more comfortable for military pressing and snatching. My grip does not fatigue as quickly (the handles are pretty thin) and I find the rack position extremely comfortable.I also love them for kettlebell juggling.
There are other brands of competition kettlebells, but I like my Perform Betters so much, and the price is so good–they also have great holiday sales, so wait for it if we’re not on holiday when you read this review–that I don’t know if I’ll ever be interested in anything else.
They only go up to 32 kilograms. As I am interested in heavy long cycle and military pressing I would love to see heavier bells for my strength training, but that’s a trivial quibble. The paint also flakes off easily, but I don’t care about that at all. Just be aware that your set may not look new for very long.
Have you used the Perform Better competition bells? Any complaints or rave reviews?