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My thoughts on the 5 minute GS rankings

Recently, I came across the ranking system for 5 minute sets for Girevoy in the OKC website. The OKC rankings are based on the KETacademy universal ranking tables for both the 5 and 10 minute sets. You can check it out here.

For those that do not know, in Girevoy or GS, a lifter does an exercise like the clean and jerks, just the jerks or the snatch for 10 minutes, and the goal is to get maximum reps without keeping the bell/s down. Based on the number of reps that you get, and according to your bodyweight, you can be eligible for a rank like Candidate Master of Sport (CMS), Master of Sport (MS), etc. Different organizations follow different ranking systems, but in general you have to do pretty much similar number of repetitions for a rank under most organizations. Below is a list of the ranking systems for some of the popular organizations:

WKC- Biathlon & Long Cycle

The rankings are a way for a kettlebell lifter to compare himself/herself to other lifters around the world, and also provides for a number and a goal to train for, in the long run. While some may argue with the numbers of a particular organization, in reality you need to be good to get a high rank in any of the organizations. I have never heard of someone walking away with an MS rank after just 3 months of training under any organization.

Till now, all organizations only had rankings for 10 minute sets, and probably for marathon sets. As far as I know, and I might be wrong, but Ketacademy is the first one to come up with a ranking table for 5 minute sets. As a lifter, now you can train and compete in 5 minute sets, and try to achieve a rank like CMS or MS. This might not go too well with the hardcore traditionalists who feel that anything less than a 10 minute set is not real GS, but I feel that this is a step in the right direction.

Since the last decade or so, most GS organizations have been trying to get more people to start kettlebell lifting on a global scale. This has already brought about a few changes in contests, like, allowing adult male lifters to lift and compete with 16 kgs, and sometimes even with 12 kgs. For women, it is possible to aim for a rank with an 8 kg bell, and not start at 16 kgs. All these changes have enabled many more individuals to try GS, and compete in it. If we were still stuck in the old days where men could only lift 32 and 24 kg bells, and women only 16 and 24 kgs, then I can assure you that you would see far lesser competitors on a GS stage.

Now, with the introduction of the 5 minute rankings, I feel that you will see even more people taking up the sport, and hopefully sticking with it too. Here is why I think it is a great idea:

1) It will go well with "sprinter" bodytypes- while a 5 minute set is not exactly sprinting in the real sense, it is still fast and short compared to a traditional GS 10 minute set. This will attract a lot of lifters who prefer to go fast and short, rather than go for slow and long sets.This is especially true for people who are used to lifting heavy weights, and dont really want to start with 16 kgs for slow paced sets. Unfortunately, I fear that I am also one of those heavy lifting loving, "sprinter" meatheads, sigh!

2) Requires lesser time to train and allows you to pursue other training goals too- let me be honest, a high rank like CMS or above will be possible for most lifters, only if they spend 70% or more of their training time doing GS. While that maybe ok for the hardcore GS lovers, it might not go well with people who have other training goals like heavy barbell work, or play another sport, etc. There are many who would not like to spend more than 50%, and preferably less of their training time doing GS practice. In such cases, 5 minute sets will work well, since it will not require as much training time as a 10 minute set. This will allow one to also do intense barbell work, get better at martial art, or pursue any other training goal. Yes, even with a 5 minute set, a very high ranking like MS or MSIC will require a lot more work, but atleast the lower ranks will allow one to chase non GS goals too at the same time.

3) More suited for body composition goals- while 10 minute sets do provide a LOT of benefits, I feel that when done with lighter weights, and a slower rep, it does not provide much body composition benefits like muscle building and fat loss. I am not saying that it does not provide ANY body composition benefit, but not as much as a faster set with a heavier weight would. And for most of us, to go fast with a heavier weight in a 10 minute set, it could take a long time to get there. Thus in cases where the trainee wants to work on body composition, training for 5 minute contests in a relatively "sprint" style with heavier bells will work much better.

4) Serves as a great entry level attraction for future 10 minute contests- hopefully this will make the traditional 10 minute set lovers happy. A lot of people will not be as intimidated when they hear a 5 minute set, as they would when they hear a 10 minute set. A 5 minute set sounds a lot more achievable when compared to lasting 10 minutes, and this is likely to encourage more people to give GS a try. And when they get some decent numbers with 5 minute sets, there is a high probability that it will make them curious to try a 10 minute set too. Thus, 5 minute sets could play a vital role to get a lot of people who are reluctant initially, to later progress onto 10 minute sets.

5) Relatively more viewer friendly- in an interview that Steve Cotter gave on this site, this is what he had to say when I asked him if he saw GS becoming a big sport in the future:

"The other factor is that it is not a very spectator friendly sport because the events last 10 minutes and it is repetitive in nature. Only those who participate or have participated on some level can appreciate it and what is involved in developing a high level. So, it will grow as a participation sport absolutely, but will always be limited by its demands and duration. Like marathon running, there are far many more participants than observers."

Wise words from a wise man. Yes, lets be honest, most of us, when we watch GS videos on Youtube, we often skip and watch it in parts, rather than sit and watch the full 10 minutes each time. And just like running, the shorter races are far more viewer friendly compared to the longer marathons. I believe that 5 minute sets has the potential to become more viewer friendly and gather more viewers, if it is promoted well. Yes, it is still 5 minutes of repetitive motion, but 5 minutes is easier to sit and watch, if it is a close contest, compared to 10 minutes.

As I have said before that some traditionalists will not like the idea of competitive 5 minute sets, but if promoted well, I feel that it can do more good for GS, than bad. Anyways, only time will tell what happens, and what stays. In the meanwhile you can enjoy some cool 5 minute sets in the videos below, and get motivated.

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