Kettlebell Figure Eight

The kettlebell figure eight is a fairly basic beginners exercise. The figure eight falls into the slow or grind category of kettlebell exercises, which means that the exercise is slow paced and performed for longer amounts of time to develop slow strength and muscular endurance rather than speed or explosive power.

To perform the kettlebell figure eight, begin with the ketttebell resting on the ground between your legs, slightly out in front of your center of gravity. Drop down into a squatting position with your upper thighs at or near parallel with the ground. This position is often referred to as a hours stance by martial artists.

Reach out with one hand and grab the kettlebell. As you lift it off the ground swing it back between your legs and towards the opposite leg from the hand holding the kettlebell. With your empty hand reach behind the same side leg and take the kettlebell from the other hand. Continue the momentum to allow the kettlebell to make a circle around your leg. As the kettlebell passes in front of your leg pass it back between your legs. As the kettlebell approaches the back of the other leg reach behind that leg with your empty hand and take the kettlebell. This completes one repetition. The kettlebell should have completed one complete figure eight shape with your legs in the middle of each of the opposing circles.

Reversing the Direction of the Kettlebell Figure Eight

A typical set of kettlebell figure eight would include 8 – 20 repetitions in either direction. After completing the first half of your set you will want to switch directions. The can be accomplished be failing to hand the kettlebell off then it’s passed between the legs, instead swing the kettlebell back out with the same hand and back in front of the same leg it just circled around. Bring the bell back behind that leg and reach back between your legs with your empty hand to accept the kettlebell.

In my experience this second direction is more difficult to make the transition. Always start with a light kettlebell when learning a new exercise, even the slower grind exercises. It’s always smart to insure you get the feeling for a new exercise before adding more weight.

Kettlebell Figure Eight Variations

There are a number of variations that make the kettlebell figure eight more interesting and more dynamic.

  • Leg Isolation Figure Eight: You can pass the kettlebell around the same leg several times before switching to the other leg. This adds to the burn in the weighted leg.
  • Lunge Figure Eight: As the kettebell reaches the edge of the figure eight shape you can extend your legs and stand up creating an up and down motion that swings from side to side as your kettlebell goes back and forth around your legs.
  • Figure Eight with Clean – Uppercut Variation: You can add an uppercut motion right after the bell changes hands bringing the kettlebell up to your chest as it would in a kettlebell clean. As you lower the bell back down you switch legs and do the uppercut clean on the other side. This version is a great arm workout and great for fighters and boxers.

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  1. JustinB


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