Steve Cotter

General Kettlebell Training Styles

With Kettlebell Training there are two main styles. Both Hard Style(brought to popularity by Pavel Tsatsouline's RKC program & Dragon Door) and Girevoy Sport have their place. There is no right or wrong method as many have argued in the past. One is the actual authentic methods used by Russians and one is well... another way of doing things. Denis Kanygin said "Hardstyle is a stripped down version of original kettlebell technique." I really like that and it certainly makes sense when visually and physically comparing the two technique styles. If one would do things hard style for years and ongoing years they would not be able to maintain that practice due to the abuse on the body; however with G.S. a practitioner can maintain that from cradle to the grave. I have seen more and more of the former, and some still current, inner circle hardstyle folks employ the coaching of Girevoy Sport style practitioners so that they too can preserve themselves along their Kettlebell fitness journeys.

Kettlebell Sport style training flows much better with human mechanics so that the body gets stronger naturally instead of brutally placing unnecessary force upon joints, the spine, and soft tissue. Thankfully for people like Valery Fedorenko of the American Kettlebell Club, Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, (both of the International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation) and others who have been virally bringing this message of Kettlebell Training to the masses.

What Is The IKFF?

What is the IKFF?

The IKFF is an organization whose goals are two-fold: to promote Kettlebell training and complete mind/body fitness on a global scale, and to support our members in developing the all-encompassing skills needed to accelerate their own fitness and fitness-oriented businesses.  The vision in creating this is to offer passionate fitness enthusiasts a no-nonsense, ever-evolving resource they can trust is on the cutting edge of athletic training and conditioning!

Core Values

  • Member-Centered
    We exist to support and help the growth of our members.


  • Integrity
    We focus on excelling in what we are good at.
  • Global-Minded
    The modern world is almost completely integrated. IKFF is at the bleeding edge of fitness and health solutions for a global audience; our reach extends across the world.
  • Integrative
    We are comprehensive and give equal attention to mind-body-spirit and to fitness-health-wellness/well-being.
  • Flexible
    We constantly aim to improve and remain able and willing to learn, grow and modify as needed to improve.
  • Balance Mind-Body-Spirit

Join Our Team

As part of the IKFF team, you will be affiliated with the most sought-after kettlebell teacher in the world—Steve Cotter.
Think of it—there is a very good reason that the Naval Special Warfare Command (governing command of the Navy SEALs), United States Marine Corps, top-level MMA athletes, professional football teams and everyday people around the globe seek out Steve’s precision-engineered training methods.
Simply put, he is an incredible teacher who can actually do what he teaches and more importantly, teach you how to replicate these skills and to teach others—a rare thing in the fitness world these days.
Steve and his team will ensure you receive elite training in whatever area you are looking for—kettlebells, bodyweight training, movement training, joint mobility, flexibility and more!
Thus, to ensure the diverse needs of athletes, everyday folks and trainers the world over, Steve has multiple instructor certifications you can register for.

After attending an IKFF certification, you will leave having that rare confidence associated with knowing you have all the tools needed to achieve all of your goals—personal and/or business!  The IKFF is led by both Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn.  I have the extreme privilege to be an official IKFF Assistant Instructor for them.  It is an amazing experience to be led, taught, and serve alongside both Ken and Steve in the IKFF.
Visit HERE for more info: CLICK HERE.

The Steve Cotter Press

This past weekend I had the honor of assisting at the IKFF Kettlebell Teacher Certification in Dallas, TX. It was a great time in both instructing and being instructed. I always love attending these sorts of things because I am surrounded by the most talented and amazing people. A lot of the fellow Kettlebell Coaches and attendees I met were folks I have communicated with online via email as well as on such websites as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blogs, etc. It is always really cool to meet them face to face and get to know them better in an element we all love.

Among the many people who I worked side by side with this weekend there was one person who performed some exceptional feats of strength and just plain old really cool stuff. He is none other than John Wild Buckley of the Orange Kettlebell Club or OKC. He's an enormous man, ok well it doesn't take much to be enormous compared to my size of only 5'6", but he is actually pretty big at 6'6" and over 300lbs. The man dwarf's Paul Bunyan by a heck of a lot! In case you don't know who Paul Bunyan is I have enclosed a video so you can know.

Ok so now that you are fully aware of who Paul Bunyan is allow me to finish telling my story about John Buckley. So he does these things called "Nazo Presses and Nazo Getups" where he performs a human press or turkish getup with his OKC partner Nazo. She's about 100lbs. so this is pretty cool to see. Take a look...

What is even cooler is what else he did at the Dallas cert. After performing one of his trademark Nazo Presses he decided to step it up to the 80kg "Cotter Press". This is the latest and greatest pressing endevors and methods in Girevoy Sport training. Anyone who's anyone is doing it and very cool if they can. And John is definitely the coolest of the cool for being the first to "Cotter Press" the one and only Steve Cotter. For a full walk-through tutorial on the ins and outs of the Cotter Press you gotta go to either the OKC and/or the IKFF for details. In the meantime take a peak at the first images ever shown in public known to man.

Now isn't that impressive or what???!!! John is truly a character, friend, great kettlebell coach, and amazing Cotter Presser. :)

Roadmap To Beginning Kettlebell Lifting

Some folks who live remotely from me have been asking what to do, who to turn to, and what instructional material I would suggest getting to start Kettlebell training.  Of course I would recommend finding a certified AKC and/or IKFF Kettlebell Coach to provide you with the proper form instruction as well as program design.  It’s one thing to know how to use the bells and/or equipment when you’re exercising, but it’s another to know how to properly and efficiently program design.  Additionally Steve Cotter has a great, great series on DVD called the Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting Volumes 1 and 2.  Steve Cotter is a great teacher.  I have been mentored by him and am ongoing as well.

Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting Vol. 1Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting Vol. 1

From there you can purchase the American Kettlebell Club (AKC) Pro-Grade Kettlebells right from my website.  The prices are the ones set by the AKC.

These are the only bells I use and the exact ones time tested and proven in competition arenas worldwide, testing labs, many gyms, and my living room every day.  The handle is made universal in size (32 or 33mm) and so is the bell.  The size bell is the exact same no matter what weight it is from 8kg to 60kg.  They just fill the core more with denser steel.  This way your form will not change as you move up in weight.  That's exactly why they use them in competition too.  They are much safer and functional. The other style bells (iron based) get bigger as the weight gets bigger and so does the handle.  Also the shape of the handle is not very good when performing the main lifts.

From there all you will need is 2 different weight bells at the very least to get you started.  I recommend a 16kg and 20kg for men and an 8kg and 12kg for women.  You could stick with both of these for a very long time.  With Kettlebell training you do not jump up in weight simply because you can perform 15 or 20 reps of a given movement.  You do 2 things before you move up in weight.  First is you increase the time and next is the reps per minute.  Your goal is to perform the 3 main traditional lifts from 1-10 minutes.  The lifts are: Snatch, Jerk, Long Cycle (clean and jerk).  Anything beyond that can be supporting lifts or movements.  You want to be able to perform these lifts during your pre-determined set amount of time with only one hand switch.  This is where the challenge is and where the benefit comes.  It strengthens your muscles, joints, tendons, nervous system, and mind more than any other style of training or equipment due to the focus on strength endurance.  

When performing your set think of a marathon runner.  He/she would not start out their race by sprinting or going too quickly.  If they did their race would be over because they burnt themselves out early on.  Same is true for Kettlebell training.  Your goal is to last the full time limit without stopping.  That is where your pre-determined time meets your pre-determined pace.  Start off with a given pace and end up with the same pace.  As the weeks and months go on and you get better then you simply increase the time first till you reach the 10 minute mark and then increase the reps per minute.  Then lastly is the weight.  There is much more to it, but that’s essentially the pattern in a nutshell.

Once you can perform each of those lifts for the full 10 minutes with one hand switch at a controlled, but respectable reps per minute range, then you increase the weight.  You see why it might take you months or longer before you move up in bell size.  That's the beauty in Kettlebell training.  It's a great thing and delivers above and beyond expectations if and only if the practitioner is consistent and keeps it simple.

It's Almost IKFF Time...


This weekend is the IKFF cert in Dallas.  I will be going to that to assist in the instruction alongside Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn as well as present a sales training module.  I'm very much looking forward to going to this because I know everytime I attend a cert whether it be as a student or assisting I learn something new, I hone my skills, and I network with great, great people.  The fitness and kettlebell community is definitely a good one to be a part.  There are a lot of great minds and I always look forward to being mentored as well as mentoring when given the opportunity. 

This weekend will be my first opportunity, my pilot program, to present my training module outside of Anytime Fitness.  It has been a vision of mine to work with a top level certifying organization such as the IKFF for a while in training the trainers.  I truly believe in what the IKFF represents and teaches.  I only hope my presentation is enjoyed and seen valuable by both Steve and Ken so that I will continue to work with them ongoing.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

As for my workouts I have worked very hard this week and will be taking the next 2 days off to allow my body to recover because I know I will be doing something in some capacity at this weekend's cert. 

Workout 010609:
8 Min. Long Cycle @ 2 20kg and 5rpm

4 Min. Jerks @ 2 20kg and 9rpm

Workout 010709:
6 Min. Long Cycle @ 2 20kg and 6rpm

4 Min. Jerks @ 2 20kg and 8rpm

Guerrilla Sprints

I'm gonna eat well this evening and sleep well too.  Tomorrow and Friday will be a nice break to have back to back as I haven't had one of those in a long time.  If you haven't checked out the IKFF I would highly, highly advise it.  I have plans to host one if I can in AZ sometime this year.  I just need people with interest so that I can solidify it with Steve and Ken.  The location is already set as I have 14 possible locations in the state inside one of my Anytime Fitness facilities.  Let me know if you want to get certified as a Kettlebell Coach.  We'll make it happen. :)

Rants and Raves About The Kettlebell Craze

Today I did a quick Kettlebell Practice session.  By "quick" I definitley don't imply easy.  It was only quick because I omitted the running to give my back and leg joints a rest from the pavement pounding.  The most important aspect of the workout was certainly there.  I'll mention what that was real quick and then I want to get into something else on the topic of kettlebells as well as switch modes briefly to little talk about nutrition and eating habits.

Workout 010309:
6 Min. Long Cycle @ 2 20kg and 5rpm

4 Min. Jerks @ 2 20kg and 8rpm

Ok now I just have to rant a bit about something that is just not agreeable with me.  There are some things that should be done and then some things that just should not be done where Kettlebell Practice/Training is concerned.  Over the past 10 years kettlebells have made their way over to the U.S., but have been used in some variation or another for the past 400 years in Europe.  Kettlebell Lifting is actually the national sport in Russia same as baseball is to the United States.  So the art of kettlebell lifting has since been studied, evolved, and pretty close to perfected by prodigy lifters and exercise scientists for a while now.  Somewhere along the line someone got the not so bright idea that the kettlebell is a great marketing tool and tossed it in the mix among some of the best gym or home based exercise tools.  It is even marketed as the "Palm-sized Gym", or "A Gym That Fits In Your Palm", and the list goes on.  Not only has it been marketed in this way, but in the past couple years more and more traditional dumbbell isolation exercises have crossed into the protocol of the kettlebell.  Recently certain folks have even gone as far to introduce some very nifty named "new kettlebell exercises" in order to promote their fitness dvd's and programs.

Ok now these exercises are all good for overall fitness and most likely will give you a workout if performed properly in a well designed program; however every single one of these so called "kettlebell exercises" can very easily be interchanged with a dumbbell, medicine ball, soup can, big rock, small tv set, or any other odd object the trainee so desired.  The kettlebells used in these exercises have all been downsized and the shape changed to allow for more of a flashy product.  Keep in mind these companies and these trainers have to make money and they seem to be doing a very good job about it, but in the end what is the fruits of their labor have to do with getting true genuine results of increased strength, greater overall endurance in both cardio as well as strength, fat reduction, increased energy, joint stability, and the list goes on and on and on.  Essentially these trainers have simply taken what has been going on in gyms via "Functional Training" up until a couple years ago and turned it around into what is now labelled as a "Workout With A Kettlebell".  What they don't tell you is the truth.

Here is a video clip of a recent Early Show news segment featuring one of these trainers I speak of and him demonstrating the exercises I mention.

KettleBells on The CBS Early Show
Video link(CBS has a little commercial prior to the segment):

I do have to say that he has a very good TV presence and is definitely doing a great job in promoting himself as well as his concept; however I don't believe the ancients, as well as the Russians, were the "dominators" as they were because of the "Pass, Pass, Shoot" and others in his training programs.

The true movements they used and still use are the 3 main Kettlebell Lifts (that we teach using the AKC methods): Snatch, Jerk, and Long Cycle(clean and jerk). Then you have progressions and variations of that such as the Swing(not to be squatting while swinging as in the TV demonstration), Clean, Press, Push Press, and so on.

Practicing these movements, their variations, and then supporting exercises which are complimentary to the main 3 is what's absolutely ideal. Sticking to the basics, mastering the basics, and then working the basics consistently will be what returns the best rewards.

I thank God every day for my opportunity to be mentored by Valery Fedorenko, Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, Marty Ferrell, Andrew Durnait, Catherine Imes, Scott Helsley and the list goes on. These folks are continually studying and teaching the best and true kettlebell training methods and every single one of them will produce the best results in anything fitness related as well as overall strength endurance.  There's a reason why most of the top athletes have been, and still are, Kettlebell practicioners who focus on the 3 main lifts.  Looking at these athletes they are in very impressive shape and very functional in their body movements.  Kettlebells can do this for anyone who puts in the time and effort.  Remember it is not easy to be healthy and in great shape.  If it was then a whole lot more people would be there.

It takes daily dedication and commitment to yourself and your lifestyle.  That's exactly what it is- a lifestyle.  It is part of your daily life to wake up and get dressed to go about your day.  Make it part of your day to pick up a Kettlebell and practice the 3 main lifts in some capacity.  I will be blogging soon about the essentials of basic program design in the near future.  If you cannot perform the 3 main lifts then practice the foundations that lead up to them such as the Two Arm Swing, One Arm Swing, High Pull, Standing Press, Push Press, etc.  Eventually you will be able to master the basics and in the mean time achieve a high level of fitness and strength.  Then apply good eating habits which are also a lifestyle daily choice and you will be well on your way to the best health you can get.  Decide every day when you wake up that you will do everything possible to be the absolute best 'you' that you can be.  It will not come easy and that is why you must consciouly and routinely decide this.  Once you do no one and nothing will stand in your way.  Get and stay determined.  There is no better gift you can give yourself and your loved ones than good health and longevity because of the choices and decisions you continually make.

Everything you do matters- no matter how big or small.  If you're going to eat or drink something think thoroughly what it is that you're about to put in your mouth.  You have two options.  It will either bring you closer to your goals or it will take you further away from them.  Yes that one cookie matters.  Fine!  Make the excuse that you just want to enjoy living your life and that is why you have the cheat meal or late night ice cream treat.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with that.  There is definitely a time and place for those treats, but when you are on your way to getting healthy and losing fat the time is not until you actually get where you want to be.  The goal is a plan you must strictly adhere to and in order to achieve it you must stay focused.  Once you get to your goal then it's a lot easier to stay there.  Have that snack and treat, but continue to eat healthy all the rest of the time.  Continue your Kettlebell practice and you will stay where you worked so hard to get to, but until you're actually there sacrifice nothing.