Perform Better Competition Kettlebells Review

by Josh Hanagarne on October 7, 2010

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.

Any downsides?

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.

In many ways I find these kbs superior to even the beautiful Dragondoor RKC bells, but I have a few of those as well. And I’m a fledgling girevoy nut, so I think I’ll be getting more.

Have you used the Perform Better competition bells? Any complaints or rave reviews?

Josh

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete October 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Hi Josh

Are there any differences in comp bells from one brand to the next? I mean is it worth me paying more for a well known brand when they are all made of steel and the same shape and dimensions etc.

Regards

Pete

Reply

Josh Hanagarne October 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Hi Pete, honestly, I have only tried the Perform Better bells, so I can’t really say. I believe, however, that if someone is billing their bells as competition approved, they would have to meet the standardized competition criteria. So if I could find something less well-known that I knew had the same dimensions as a known brand, I’d have no problem going that route.

Reply

Adam Campbell March 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Great post, but a little surprised your treatment of the Valery Fedorenko and the American Kettlebell Club was so short. Valery is established as one of the (if not, the) greatest living kettlebell lifters in the world – easily one of the best of any age.

Also, a little inside scoop, Valery and the AKC/WKC patented their competition grade kettlebell and subsequently the world at large, including some of the companies you’ve listed above, have proceeded to, shall we say, “leverage” the WKC’s heavy-lifting (pun particularly intended).

Not trying to be spammy, but you can read more about the WKC bells HERE.

I’ve written before that the WKC competition kettlebell literally revitalized my KB career. Wouldn’t go back if I could. Wouldn’t use another “competition style” bell, either. For what its worth…

Thanks again for the great post.

Reply

Josh Hanagarne March 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

You’re welcome Adam. I’m beyond impressed with Valery and I don’t write too much about him–words seem to cheapen what he’s capable of!

Thanks for the link:)

Reply

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