Kettlebell Hot Potatoes

By Coach Izzy

Once you have mastered the basics and learn to appreciate how the kettlebell is most effective in the multi-joint, power endurance moves, you will be ready to add some heat to your routines. How about some hot potatoes? Yep! Kettlebell hot potatoes that is.

Like most kettlebell drills, when properly done, the kettlebell hot potatoes will help you develop strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, not to mention a rock-solid midsection.

Many athletes use this movement to improve their eye-hand coordination and also train their bodies to generate and absorb momentum in a more advanced level. For the regular fitness enthusiast, this is a nice way to change the pace and challenge the musculoskeletal system into yet another form of improvement and development.

Does this sound like a miracle? Perhaps, but under solid coaching and perseverance, Kettlebell enthusiasts have produced results that are short of miraculous. This is not to say that kettlebells are the only way to train, but when properly done, they are VERY productive.

Many kettlebell enthusiasts are people who have been exercising and lifting weights for years and find that kettlebells add a new dimension to their programs. They discover their ability to produce more power, outlast their opponents, and a new level of athleticism they didn’t know was possible.

Back to the topic. The kettlebell hot potatoes are not difficult to learn, but like every skill, they must be done properly and progressively to maximize results and prevent injury. That means start slowly and light. No reason to rush. Let’s get you started:

The First Steps

•Rack the kettlebell. The side or base of the bell should be cupped in your hand. Use your non-dominant side. Select a weight you would use in your light days for push presses.

•Slowly transfer the weight to the other hand.

•Pass the weight back again to the original hand.

If you ever played hot potatoes as a child, the concept is the same. Pass the weight back and forth increasing speed as if the “potato” is too hot to hold for long.

If this proves too difficult, cup the kettlebell at the base with two hands. Use your hips to drive the kettlebell up and absorb the shock.

The Next Step

•If you are comfortable passing the weight from hand to hand, begin a gentle toss instead of a pass.

•When switching to the toss, bring the hands closer together again

•Increase distance as you get comfortable.

•Make sure to absorb the shock with your hip and trunk. The reception should be smooth and painless. If you keep smacking your hand or getting bruises, back off a bit.

•For more challenge add a squat with the reception, again, if you get smacked, back off.

How low you decide to squat, or how far you decide to keep your hands is highly dependent on your mastery, comfort level, cycle of your program, and order of the exercises. Those factors determine how safe the exercise is for you. Your instructor can also guide you when you have doubts as to when it is the best time to kick up the challenge level a notch.

The Big Potato

After steady practice, you will notice that you can handle the traditional hot potatoes drills with ease. Time to aim for the big potato. Here are some ways in which you can spice up your hot potato drills:

•Increase the size of the bell. Again, make sure to keep good form.

•Decrease rest time.

•Increase the speed of the drills.

•Increase the balance challenges, remember to start easy on this one as well.

•Get fancy! Pass the kettlebell from hand to hand around your back and through your legs. The figure-8 kettlebell hot potatoes can be very demanding and push your body to new levels of performance.

•How about passing the bell from the handle rather than the base? Why not throw and overhead press and overhead squat while at it?

The possibilities are endless, but they are all dependent on you having good command of the basics.

Training Tips

•Never sacrifice form for the sake of weight or fanciness

•How wide your stance should be depends mostly on your build and the routine you are going to perform, but in general, shoulder width, to slightly-wider-than-shoulder stances work for most people.

•Always be in charge during the exercise. If the weight starts pulling you down, or you drop your shoulders too low, or you keep smacking yourself, time to drop the weight or stop.

•How long you perform the movement depends on many program design factors, but going to failure is not a good idea.

•How often you perform the movement, also depends on many program design factors, but in general, you will probably perform the exercise more frequently while learning it.

Learning the basics and mastering kettlebells require constant training and repetition, but you do not have to be trapped with boring drills that involve doing the same thing over and over again.

Once you are comfortable with the basics feel free to add this movement for a new dimension of kettlebell training. Have fun!

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.