Comparative analysis of rankings: RGSI, RGSF, WCK, IKFF

What follows is excerpted from an upcoming book to be published in the US.

Author Igor Morozov Master of Sports World Class

Author of current ranking tables of Russian Girevoy Sport Federation (RSSF) and Russian Girevoy Sport Institute (RGSI)
12x World champion, 8x Champion of Europe, 4x Champion of Russia

Web site:  email: 

Methods of increasing performance in girevoy sport[1].

Comparative analysis of leading ranking tables. 


Several different ranking systems are used to measure performance of kettlebell athletes.

Author believe that a thoughtful qualification system must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Set achievable though not easy to attain rankings by men, women, teen and senior kettlebell athletes. Importantly, the ranking system must motivate and incentivize practice of kettlebell sport;
  2. Enable gradual, injury free increase in training volume;
  3. From the outset contribute to development of muscle endurance which is a key element to successful performance of kettlebell athletes;
  4. Develop will power and “mental fitness to complete 10-minute of biathlon and / or long cycle;
  5. Have minimal if any side effects.

This article analyzes four (4) rankings currently used by the kettlebell community: Russian Girevoy Sport Federation (RGSF), World Kettlebell Club (WKC), International Kettlebell Fitness Federation (IKFF), Russian Girevoy Sport Institute (RGSI).

Differences in weight categories as well as variation in the weight of kettlebell complicate a consistent comparison of ranking tables.  For example, in WKC sponsored events men athletes compete in the following weight categories (in kg): 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 90 и above 90.  These weight categories were also used in Russia several years ago. Moreover, to progress from rank 4 to Honored Master of Sports (2) in WKC ranking system athletes need to increase kettlebell weight from 12 kg to 40 kg, respectively.

RGSF ranking divides men competitors into the following weight categories (in kg): 63, 68, 73, 78, 85, 95, 105 and above 105. Teen athletes use 16 kg Russian kettlebells and masters use 24 kg and 32 kg.

Furthermore, certain organizations introduce and organize non-traditional kettlebell competitions as opposed to classic kettlebell exercises as sponsored by the RGSF, founder of competitive kettlebell sport: biathlon (jerk and snatch) and long cycle for men, and snatch for women.

The focus of this article is on classic kettlebell exercises.

In order to arrive at a common denominator enabling consistent comparison of various ranking tables, I chose to compare them by weight of kettlebell lifted per 1 kg of athlete’s own weight. The actual calculations were based on the following formula: number of repetitions were multiplied into the weight of kettlebells and then divided by the weight category.

For example, for men athletes attempting Master of Sport World Class (MSWC) in biathlon in weight category of 48 kg and using 32 kg Russian kettlebells, the formula is:

W=(90 reps*32кг*2 kettlebelss)/48кг=120 units / where W is coefficient used to complete the calculation of unit of comparison below.

Formula results for a given rank are calculated for all weight categories then summed and divided by the number of categories used in a ranking table. The result of this methodology is average data for each rank.

To continue with the example above, average ranking data for achieving MSWC in the weight 48 kg category is 130 units under this methodology.

Averages are then used to create the charts and the analyses below.

 The line graphs vividly show differences in approach by authors of various tables.


Looking at Figure 1, one cannot help but notice ‘jumps’ in otherwise smooth ranking transition in RGSF and IKFF qualification systems. As a result, certain ranking are relatively easy to achieve while achieving the next rank is significantly more challenging. This violates the principle of gradual increase in training volumes and in setting personal records (PR). For example, our calculations show CMS rank to actually be lower than Rank I while MS Rank is higher than Rank I and CMS as it should be.  As a result, achieving CMS Rank is relatively easy once Rank I is achieved, however, the road to MS is much longer from CMS.  This is clearly seen when comparing RGSF and IKFF ranking tables to RGSI requirements where transition between ranks is smooth and gradual.

 The ranking tables do exhibit similarities when measured by level of complexity required to make particular rank. Achieving MS and MSWC rank is most difficult using RGSF and IKFF rankings. As author of RGSI ranking system I have intentionally lowered these rankings by 10% giving effect to the early stage of development of girevoy sport outside Russia. Otherwise, ranking will seem difficult or next to impossible to achieve.

The straight upward line chart of WKC system reflects absence of competition data to support development of ranking table.


Analysis of Figure 2 of Men Biathlon elicits the following ‘jumpy’ transition pattern of RGSF and IKFF system.

The linear pattern of WKC chart is reflective of a training regimen designed to increase athlete’s muscle power. The system begins with 37 units for Rank 3 and reaches 120 units for the highest rank, HMS. This is the lowest ranking average coefficient. RGSI start at 28 units for Rank 6 and reaches 130 units for MSWC – somewhat lower than similar Rank for RGSF and IKFF. A comparison of WKC and RGSI system shows that achieving highest ranks requires use of 40 kg and 32  kg Russian kettlebells, respectively while average coefficients in RGSI system exceed that one of WKC by 10 units. This finding further confirms the power focus of WKC table which is a deviation from the key principles of girevoy sport – building muscle endurance in an injury-free and healthy way.

Our opinion is that WKC system de-emphasizes endurance and health benefits of training with 24 kg and 32 kg in favor of developing maximum strength required to lift 40 kg which in essence is closer to competitive weight- and powerlifting. Such focus render athletes prone to muscle-skeletal injuries as well as increased blood pressure typical of lifting heavier weights.


Figure 3 shows a different pattern for long cycle. Line graphs of RGSF and IKFF systems exhibit similar broken pattern and achieving HMS by WKC system requires 57 units.

In all three figures RGSI has the lowest coefficient thereby confirming and supporting the principle of gradual increase in training volumes for beginning kettlebell athletes.


Increase in ranking is best achieved through gradual increase in training volumes and by avoiding jumps and attempts to achieve unrealistic goals. In RGSI ranking, men and women athletes start working with 12 kg and 10 kg, respectively.  The focus is on mastering the technique to be able to lift Russian kettlebells in an efficient and ergonomic manner. By mastering lighter kettlebells athletes gradually strengthen muscle and joints, improve cardio endurance and build mental fitness necessary to work with heavier kettlebells during 10 minutes. As athletes progress through ranks kettlebell weights increase while the number of reps does not change. The gradual approach also allows athletes to avoid unnecessary psychological pressure and demotivation associated with trying to live up to unrealistic expectations.

In designing an optimal training program, athletes should be using a ranking table that allows gradual increase in training volume and intensity while competing under various ranking systems.

I wish you good health, fun while training with Russian kettlebells and smooth and continuous increase in your personal records!

[1] Girevoy sport and kettlebell sport are used interchangeably for purposes of this article.

[2] Highest ranking in WKC system.

Comparative analysis of rankings: RGSI, RGSF, WCK, IKFF
What follows is excerpted from an upcoming book to be published in the US. Author Igor Morozov Master of Sports World Class Author of current ranking tables of Russian Girevoy Sport Federation (RSSF) and Russian Girevoy Sport In

Seminars Schedule RGSI Seminar System in Kettlebell Sport 0-4 Level – 4 hours    0-8 Level – 8 hours (1 day) 1 Level – 16 hours (2 days) 2 Level – 20 hours (2,5 days) 3 Level – 24 hours (3 days) 4 Level

LC plan - example
Snatch plan - example
Lesson 1 Coach Profi
Personal workouts
Ranks table