What would you say about an exercise that will increase your work capacity, strengthen your trunk muscles and your hips, build your biceps, create incredible trunk and single leg rotational explosive power, strengthen your grip and hand-to-hand coordination, and develop your rooting ability (ability to establish a strong connection with the ground)?
This movement belongs in any armor building program, yet few know about it. Or if they do, few really give it its due. I’m going to lay out a challenge for you. Learn this movement. Start with a light to medium weight kettlebell (KB) and learn the technique. Take a few weeks and get your form nailed down. Then focus on this movement for the next four to six weeks. Work up to a heavy kettlebell. You can thank me later.
First, a warning – this movement is not for the faint of heart.
- You need a good solid swing technique.
- You should be adept at KB cleans outside the knees.
- You should be able to pass a KB around your legs in a figure eight pattern without bowing over and looking as you pass the KB from one hand to the other.
- You should be able to do several sets of goblet squats with a reasonable weight.
If you can do these things well, you are cleared to proceed.
Also, I would highly suggest having the capability to perform slingshots with a KB. If you do not know how to do KB slingshots, take a look at this video:
Click page 2 below to learn how to create explosive trunk power.
How to Perform the Figure Eight to a Hold
There are two movements to master. I’ll lay them both out for you. We’ll look at the Figure Eight to a Hold (F8toH) first. I like to call them Figure Eights to a Stop, because, well, you are stopping the KB, not merely holding it.
- First, grab a KB. Pick your poison, but don’t start off too heavy. You want to develop good technique before you start loading the movement with a heavier KB. Park the KB out in front of your body just as if you were going to start KB swings.
- Grab the KB with your right hand, sit back, and hike it back as if doing a one arm swing. As the KB goes back to the hike-pass position, your left hand should be moving back behind your left leg and ready to catch the KB. You will pass the KB from the right hand to the left hand at this point.
- Using the momentum of the right-to-left hand pass, you will move the KB back behind the left leg and then begin snapping the hips back forward just as if doing a swing. The hip-snap leg-drive, along with a strong pull from your left arm, will propel the KB out around your body, then in front of you and upwards in a circular motion as if you were going to throw the KB over your right shoulder. It’s sort of a similar movement to an upper-cut in boxing.
- As the KB flies upward toward your face, chin, and right shoulder, you will catch it in a “hold” or stop it before it pounds into you. Do not let the KB or its handle punch you in the chest, chin, face, or shoulder. You will break, or brake, the momentum of the KB with tension, bracing for it. At this point your left hand is still holding the KB handle. The bottom of the KB is facing more or less up and to the right, and your right hand is cradling the ball of the KB. This is the top “hold,” or “stop” position. Freeze this position for just an instant.
- Now simply drop the KB downward and direct the falling KB as if performing another swing. But this time, as the KB swings back to the hike-pass position at the bottom of a swing, pass it from your left hand to your right hand (which is reaching around behind your right leg, thus, you see the figure eight pattern here).
- Complete the hand pass, swing the KB back, around, and out front to hook it upwards and stop the KB with your left hand. Repeat for effect.
You will quickly find you must get tight and really crank that KB around your body and up to catch it. It has a rhythmic feel to it, a flowing movement, but at the same time there is some serious tension and explosive power being generated. As you get the technique dialed in, graduate to heavier KBs and really crank on these. This is when you will feel what is being worked.
I’ve seen videos of people doing these and they always mickey-mouse the movement. Get serious as your technique improves. It’s a power move.
Click to page 3 to learn a shorter and faster variation.
How to Perform Clock-Stoppers
Now it’s time for Clock-Stoppers. It is a similar movement, except you do not do a figure eight pass between the legs. Instead, with each rep you hand switch behind your back. The KB travels around the body and not down between the legs. It’s a shorter and faster movement than the F8toH. Hence, you will understand why I call them Clock-Stoppers.
A nice bonus of the Clock-Stoppers is that after each catch at the top, you can now push the KB back downward diagonally across the body and impart a stronger force to overcome on the next hinge back movement. This loads the glutes and hams tremendously.
Since you are changing from a right upper-cut to a left upper-cut on every rep, I simply count each rep for each side as I do it. So, five reps of this and you have actually performed ten total reps (five left + five right). Ten reps each side gives you twenty total reps.
“Don’t get too fatigued and start performing sloppy reps. That’s a sure ticket to an injury.”
Be careful, as these can really smoke you when you first start doing sets of ten. You are creating a ton of tension and explosive ability. Work up to five to ten sets of five to ten reps. Five sets of five reps with a heavy KB is tough. You can do higher reps and sets, but use a medium weight KB for that approach. In any case, don’t get too fatigued and start performing sloppy reps. That’s a sure ticket to an injury.
You might actually work the F8toH one day and then several days later do the Clock-Stoppers (CSs). Perform the F8toH with a medium weight KB and the CSs with a heavier weight. You will find with the CSs you can really crank since you can throw the KB back down rather than just let it fall, and this loads the body. Trying to throw the KB down in the Figure of Eight doesn’t flow as smoothly as the CSs.
Want to know how to integrate these exercises into your routine? Click to page 4.
How to Program These Exercises Into Your Routine
These are great exercises that almost nobody performs. They will toughen you up. For two weeks, perform a couple of sets after your normal routine. I would suggest doing a few sets every day for five or six days of the week for two weeks. Just play with them and practice the technique. After those two weeks of almost daily practice, take two to three days off. Following that, spend the next four to six weeks on building up your sets/reps and working into heavier KBs two to three days per week.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to deal with discomfort. There is no peaking for life.”
Focus on cranking that KB up and stopping the KB with the opposite hand. Brace for the load. Keep tight and don’t get sloppy. If my voice seemed a little froggy in the videos, it’s because I filmed them at 8,500 feet of elevation while also dealing with some bronchitis from a sinus infection. Sometimes you’ve just got to deal with discomfort. If you train to be ready, that also means you might have to go active while not feeling your best. You can’t always pick the best time to perform. There is no peaking for life. Deal with it. Rock on!
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