Mishin Sergey is the Legend of the World of kettlebell sport
Sergey Nikolaevich Mishin,
First Honored Master of Sports of Russia in Kettlebells
Winner of Girevoy Championship of Russia – 20 times;
Winner of World Kettlebell Championship – 10 times.
Sergey Mishin was born on August 11, 1958 Russia in a blue-collar family in the city of Kaluga, Russia.
When he turned 17, Sergey Mishin bought his first kettlebell – a 24 kg Russian girya or as Russian gireviks call it “1 ½ pood” (1 pood = 16 kg = 35 pounds). He barely managed to carry his first 24 kg Russian girya home. Moreover, Sergey Mishin was deeply disappointed that he could not lift it above his head – neither with right nor with left hand. His solution was to find a metal stick and tie it to the handle of the russian kettlebell so that he could lift it with both hands as a barbell. Thus the future legend of kettlebells completed his first ever Jerk exercise with one 24 kg Russian kettlebell in 1975.
Soon Sergey Mishin started mandatory two-year military service. As a rule, every military gym in Russia has several sets of kettlebells. However, soldiers in Sergey’s unit barely touched them –after a strictly regimented day typical of military service in Russia, most privates just wanted to kick back and rest. Not private Sergey Mishin though. Already hooked on lifting giryas, Sergey Mishin continued training with kettlebells. They would also remind him of home and that was a good way to fight homesickness! Training started to pay off – 19 years old Sergey Mishin could now do 30 one-hand military presses with a 32 kg Russian kettlebell.
After completing his military service, Sergey Mishin started his professional life at the local electrical plant for agricultural equipment. The gym at the plant had both Russian kettlebells and handmade barbells. Sergey Mishin continued to work out with giryas both during lunch breaks and after work. However, he did not have a coach and his self-training was very rudimentary and bore very little resemblance to the training program of a competitive kettlebell lifter.
The breakthrough came almost by chance. One of Sergey’s Mishin friends told him about a kettlebell coach, Valentin Petrovich Zorin, who lived in one of Kaluga’s suburbs. Sergey Mishin still vividly recalls January 1, 1983 – this was day of his first session with a real kettlebell coach. It was then that Sergey Mishin made a bet with his friend that he would make master of sports (MS) at his first kettlebell meet.
It was not easy. Every morning Sergey Mishin would spend with his coach in the gym and at night would train at the gym at his work. The gym at the plant did not have standard giryas, the weights varied from 41 kg to 43 kg and more. However, that would not stop the aspiring lifter. In fewer than seven months Sergey Mishin traveled to the 1st Kettlebell Championship of Russia. There was no doubt for him that he would win the bet – and he did! He made MS at his first Russian kettlebell meet and took the 4th place.
The meet was held in Lipetsk which is also the place of birth of another great Russian Girevik, Michail Rodionov, who won Championship of USSR many times. Besides Michail, Sergey Mishin met the entire elite of the girevoy sport at the time: Ivan Nettsev, Ivan Panchenko, Vasily Koskov, Alexei Vorotyntsev. After watching and speaking with them Sergey Mishin realized that while he progressed as girevik, he was barely scratching the surface of the body of knowledge of girevoy sport.
Upon return home Sergey Mishin embarked on an intensive training program. Typically, heavyweights continue to gain weight as they are getting older. On the contrary, Sergey Mishin dropped weight: after his discharge from military service he weighed 137 kg (approximately 300 pounds). At his first meet he tipped the scale at 113 kg (249 pounds) and his first national records were set in the weight category of 90 kg (200 pounds). By shedding excess weight, Sergey Mishin became faster, increased his functional strength and improved coordination which is exactly what is needed to excel in the kettlebell sport.
Year 1984 was Sergey’s breakthrough year. Slow yet unabated, through a consistent process of trial and error he steadily advanced as student of kettlebell science. Sergey Mishin experimented with and learnt the right rack position, mastered the skill of breathing and relaxing and ultimately achieved his own unique method of lifting which made him unstoppable.
It was the same year that kettlebell biathlon became the only classic competitive exercise. Military press was gone and now athletes were competing in jerk and snatch only. Young Mishin Sergey got a head start advantage against other heavyweights who used to train for power in order to perform military presses with 32 kg Russian kettlebells. In 1984 Sergey Mishin won Championship of Russia in Orenburg. Since then he never lost this competition. Next year Segey Mishin confidently won the first Championship of USSR. In 1989 girevoy sport achieved another major milestone which is now the cornerstone of modern kettlebell lifting: athletes were given 10 minutes to complete maximum number of repetitions vs. taking unlimited time to compete in jerk and snatch. This change made the sport fun to watch and made it a true competition of endurance and speed. And Sergey Mishin became the genius of muscle endurance and lifting speed.
Below are Sergey Mishin’s achievements in girevoy sport:
Winner of the World Championship – 10 times (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002);
Winner of the Cup of Russia – 6 times (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997);
Champion of USSR – 7 times (1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992);
Winner of the Championship of Russia – 20 times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004);
Winner of the World Cup – 5 times (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997);
Champion of Europe – 1998;
Winner of the Summer Sports Fest of Peoples of USSR – 1991 (similar to national Championship of USSR).
Sergey Mishin’s chronology of lifting results (with 32 kg Russian kettlebells) is as follows:
Weight category 90 kg:
Weight category above 90 kg:
Those who know Sergey Mishin personally mention his kind and generous nature and characterize him “stable as a rock”. He seems impossible to throw off and fellow gireviks would joke that Sergey Mishin has nerves of steel and his calm can crash competitors well before the actual meet. This may be so, especially when Sergey Mishin’s nerves of steel are combined with his deliberately slow training program that nevertheless packs enormous amount of weight and cardio work on a regular basis.
Sergey Mishin trains at least 5 times a week in addition to completing a rigorous running routine: 50 laps (20 km or 12.4 miles).
Sometimes he would wear a heavier vest (7-10 kg more) to increase resistance while running.
His kettlebell routine can take either 3 minutes or 3 hours and Sergey Mishin can work out as early at 5:00 in the morning especially if he has to run a lot of errands on that day. Mishin Sergey usually starts with lighter Russian kettlebells. In fact, he still uses the 24 kg Russian girya he bought long ago. Then comes the interesting part: he uses non-standard kettlebells – 33 kg each, 1 kg heavier than competitive 32 kg Russian giryas. Sergey Mishin starts by doing 34 jerks in 2 minutes, and then he does 51 repetitions in 3 minutes, then 68 repetitions in 4 minutes and so on until he gets to work through entire 10 minutes of jerk.
Mishin Sergey explains: "About two weeks before competitions my brain gets hard wired on achieving 85 jerks by the 5th minute. And no matter how I feel I get to do 85 reps in 5 minutes even though I may be tired and hurting during last reps. Once this happens, I realize that I can lose the competition only if someone cancels the entire event.”
Sergey Mishin could afford to be kind and generous at competitions – they were holiday party to him and a way to prove that he was the undisputed champion.
Sergey Mishin was the first girevik to be awarded the title of Honored Master of Sports of Russia. As well, in recognition of his contribution to development of sport in Russia Sergey Mishin was honored with the Presidential Medal of Achievement.
Sergey Mishin was 25 when he competed in his first Russian kettlebell meet and went on to win every possible competition for more than two decades. He is a living proof that with hard work one can become a successful lifter and have a long career in kettlebell sport no matter how old or how late introduced to this sport.
With his competitive days behind him, Sergey Mishin continues his involvement with kettlebells as a coach and dreams to see the day when kettlebell lifting will become an Olympic Sport. After all, at the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, athletes did compete in lifting standalone weights (not connected with a barbell) which naturally sets the stage for Russian kettlebells!