Sledgehammer Exercises 3
I trained a group of 5 people at an Austin, Texas gym over the weekend using only a sledgehammer. They were skeptical at first but soon realized that this was a serious full body workout. After a quick warm up, we did:
- Stationary marching/skipping with arms straight holding the sledgehammer x 30 seconds
- Kick Overs x 30 seconds R/L
- Alternate triceps extensions x 30 seconds R/L
- Straight punches x 30 seconds R/L
- Rowing x 30 seconds R/L
Completion of Round 1
- Mountain climbers x 30 seconds R/L
- Churn x 30 seconds R/L
- Alternate biceps curl x 30 seconds R/L
- Push ups x 30 seconds R/L
- Squats x 30 seconds R/L
Completion of Round 2
Next, we did some kettlebell/sledghammer partner exercises/challenges.
Just like dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and so on, a sledgehammer should be part of one’s equipment arsenal. It’s just that most people think of only striking a tractor tire with a sledgehammer, not realizing that there is so much more that can be done with “the ultimate conditioning tool.”
Check out more at The Sledgehammer Workout.
There’s lots of Summer left here in Texas and it’s a perfect time to kick back and relax under the sun.
For anyone who’s serious about getting in shape, staying in shape or taking it to the next level, 90 % of the time your thoughts are probably focused on results, staying motivated and trying new workouts. Whether you are a general fitness enthusiast, a football player, a golfer, a bootcamper or a weekend warrior – this you take your workouts seriously. Right?
If you have an athletic mindset, high expectations, and self respect then you do not want to be walking around with a soft, smooth and flabby body, and you are always looking for ways to challenge yourself in a fun, unique way.
TRY “TRIPLANAR MOVEMENT”
In the image above, you can get a good idea of what triplanar motion is all about.
This guy has no idea what direction he’s going to be pulled in next. It could be up, down, left, right, angles, twists, etc. This is what triplanar means. Do you currently train in an aggressive triplanar manner when you do:
- Barbell squats?
- Bench Press?
- Sit Ups?
- Playing Golf?
- Playing Football?
- Using Suspension Trainers?
Answer – you do not use “aggressive” triplanar movement in any of the above on a consistent or thorough enough basis.
Golf, football and suspension trainers come close – the golf swing is not performed for enough volume nor is it done on both sides of the body. Depending on what position in football you’re playing, triplanar movement is limited. A receiver going up for the football and twisting back over the defensive back comes close. But he’s not doing this motion consistently on all sides of the body or with resistance.
Suspension trainers also come close. But same thing as above – the weight (your body weight) is usually centered and you’re working one side of the body as in a twisting side plank with leg lift. The body “knows” what’s coming. With the wake boarder above, you’re hitting the abs and core in a highly effective way but there is no resistance.
BRING IN THE SLEDGEHAMMER
This is where things get interesting. I’ve been training with a sledgehammer A LOT more recently. Sure, I still do my bodybuilding workouts, Nexersys, powerlifting and a little crossfit. But since I’ve added in the sledgehammer, I find that I’m more conditioned, leaner, balanced, and stronger. Why? Because of the sledgehammer.
Let me explain.
Training with a sledgehammer is no more dangerous than kettlebells, barbells or dumbbells. I’ve been using the sledgehammer in my fitness bootcamp since 2005 and in my personal training business. I’ve been creatively experimenting with it for over a year and I’m not talking about striking a tractor tire with it. In fact, that may be one of the most dangerous exercises that can be done with a sledgehammer due to the potential of hitting your foot or having the sledgehammer bounce off of the tire and hitting you in the face.
As mentioned, the sledgehammer is a powerful fat loss weapon due in part to the unusual “triplanar offcentered mass effect” which results in the most effective ab and core workout that I’ve ever tried and… I’m done in half the time. And it’s not just for abs/core. Training your whole body with the sledgehammer is a new and fun experience.
In the image above, the woman is lifting, twisting, lunging, and maybe even statically holding the barbell.
The problem, though, that makes this exercise “easier” and less effective is that the weight is balanced or centered. Now, imagine a sledgehammer weighing 12lbs, 20lbs or 35lbs. The weight is shifted constantly through the various motions which MAKES the body have to constantly adjust, compensate and fire different muscles in order to keep the weight up.
THE UNKNOWING IS THE DIFFERENCE
Remember our wake boarder? He’s bumping up and down, pulled left and right, twisting. BUT…other than “maybe” a little body weight, there’s no resistance. Not compared to holding a 20lb sledgehammer.
Not even close.
In the image above, the guy holding the kettlebell is keeping the weight centered. Sure the kettlebell is swinging around but because of the centered weight, there’s no “unknown”. The length of the sledgehammer handle makes this exercise much harder. Let’s say the kettlebell in the image above weighs 35lbs. Now get a sledgehammer that also weighs 35lbs. Which is going to be more challenging to take through this movement pattern? If you’re experienced with kettlebells, common sense will tell you that the sledgehammer is going to be much more challenging due to the extra distance of the off centered mass of the sledgehammer.
Every single time you wrap your hands around a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell, your goal is to stimulate as much muscle growth as you possibly can. But there are limitations. There’s no triplanar movement with an off centered mass as in training with a sledgehammer.
Some may ask, “Why do I need to add a sledgehammer to my workout routine?” My answer would be “Why not?” If you know of a better way to train that will improve coordination, flexibility, agility, hand/eye coordination, burn fat and build muscle why would you ignore it?
Especially since most of you already have a sledgehammer in your garage or tool shed. If not, you probably know you can get one at the local hardware store, Lowes or Home Depot. Next time, I’ll have a quick sledgehammer routine that you can use at home or anywhere. Rest up! It’s going to burn and keep those muscles guessing.
I can guarantee you it will work your abs and core unlike anything you’ve ever tried. I performed this workout myself last week and I’m still amazed at how sore my abs got during the following days. What does this new soreness mean to a guy who’s used to training abs regularly? It means that I haven’t been training with a tool that has an off-centered mass and that works in an almost constant triplanar motion.
More next time.
I’ll see you at the lake!
But right now I’m in the gym,
Wow! This is going to be weird but oh so much fun.
I know you get those bootcamp clients who just love to finish the main workout before everyone else and then act all high and mighty as if they hardly even worked out. I sure get’em. So here’s a workout idea for you (and them). Grab your sledgehammer and an appropriate sized kettlebell and issue them this challenge.
Men use a kettlebell weighing 35 + pounds
Women use a kettlebell weighing 16+ pounds.
Have the first person attach the sledgehammer to the kettlebell handle as shown in the video below. Have them “walk” up the handle 6 times. They should finish with the their hands right in front of their face. Have them do 6 deep squats as shown in the video below without dropping the kettlebell. Then have them walk back down without dropping the kettlebell. If they succeed, it’s their opponents turn to do the same for 6 reps If they drop the kettlebell, then they incur “bootcamp instructor wrath” and have to do 10 Burpees. Then you can either have them try again or let someone else go. The idea is to do this challenge in “ladder” format going from 6 reps down to 2 reps.
To make it even more challenging, allow each person:
- 30 seconds to get 6 reps
- 25 seconds to get 5 reps
- 20 seconds to get 4 reps
- 15 seconds to get 3 reps
- 10 seconds to get 2 reps
This will put some extra pressure on them to really focus and use some extra intensity. You can play this bootcamp fitness game for points. If they don’t complete the reps in the suggested time, then they don’t earn a point and the other person tries to earn a point.
So let’s say person #1 completes all 6 reps in 30 seconds. That person earns 6 points. Person #2 only gets 5 reps in 30 seconds. They earn 5 points. Keep playing in this manner until the sledgehammer game is over at 2 reps. Who earned the most points? These creative new activities are sure to keep your bootcampers interested, engaged and coming back for more. Plus they’ll be doing new exercises and getting sore in new places. Too many times we tend to focus on legs and abs in bootcamp training. Every once in a while, it’s good to completely switch things up and stimulate those muscles in a completely different manner.
Another sledgehammer exercise you can use as a challenge is a variation on the plank. Yes, this works the core but it’s so much tougher than the regular everyday plank.
As you can see in the picture above, I’m holding the plank. Now try walking your hands down 3 or 4 “steps” on the handle. Then immediately walk back up. That’s one rep. Go for as many as you can using extremely good form. This is an advanced technique and can be dangerous (tweaked muscle).
Too easy? Try it with one leg in the air, then switch legs. You can use this sledgehammer exercise as a challenge as well. Have a least 2 people go head to head. Have person #1 do 6 reps, then person # 2 do 6 reps. Keep going, if you dare all the way down to 2 reps each. Will either of them be able to do it? I would love to hear how it goes – leave a comment below and share your experience with these drills.