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3 Essential Movements with Indian Clubs

Written by
January 1, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018
Category: Fitness

Any hard training individual will at some point experience shoulder issues. It’s pretty much a given, especially if you’re a combat or strength athlete. Over the years, I’ve read about (and tried) many methods to both prevent flare-ups and cure them when they occur. It was only when I found the Indian Club that I finally found the answer.

How do you use Indian Clubs?

There are a multitude of ways to swing Indian Clubs, but in my opinion, most are unnecessary. In my gym I only use three movements with a few variants on each.

1 – Saggital Swing (Long & Short)

Indian Clubs Exercise: Saggital Swing

Start with the club held overhead at arms-length, kind of like the Statue of Liberty. The weight of the Indian Club should be sat on the structure of the body; try not to hold it with excess tension.

Now allow it fall forwards in an arc, follow it back with the hips a little and use a Kettlebell swing-type action to swing the Indian Club back to the start. This is the long swing.

For the short swing, pull the upward path short by flexing the elbow so the Indian Clubs come over the shoulder and down the back. The launch for the short swing is much like casting a fishing line.

The arm should be as relaxed as possible throughout, allowing the weight of the club to provide traction along the arm into the shoulder.

2 – Inward Circle

Indian Clubs Exercise: Inward Circle

When I refer to inwards and outwards I’m talking about the Indian Club traveling from the shoulder to the centreline (inwards) or the centre line to the shoulder (outwards). Inward then starts at the shoulder; you “cast” the club across the centreline and let it swing naturally, momentum carrying it in a circular path back to the starting point.

3 – Outward Circle

Indian Clubs Exercise: Outward Circle

From the shoulder, cast it outwards, away from the midline. Allow the Indian Club to swing in a circular action down in front of the body, continuing past the head and returning to the start point.

That’s it, 3 moves.

How to Employ the Core Indian Club Moves:

Now how you use them is up to you. You can:

  • Swing one Indian Club or two at a time.
  • Swing them both clockwise and counter clockwise (i.e. one does an inward while the other does outward).
  • Swing both inwards so they cross paths in opposite directions
  • Swing both outwards so they cross paths in opposite directions.
  • Swing inwards or outwards in an alternating pattern.

How heavy should Indian Clubs be and how many reps?

Weight and reps are up to you. I use 2kg Indian Clubs and generally use 20 reps of each variation on a warm up, giving a total of around 200 reps.

If we’re using Indian Clubs for shoulder health, keep the clubs light and go for either time or high reps.

Dave Hedges began training in 1989 when he took up Karate. As he grew into a lanky, skinny teenager, his Karate instructor told Dave he needed to get stronger in order to compete more effectively. This started a lifetime pursuit of efficient and effective training methods which ultimately lead to the methods he teaches today.
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