Who would have thought that training with sledgehammers would be one of the best ways for functional strength and conditioning? One of the oldest forms of training around is becoming a staple of building fantastic results for athletes and everyone else looking to become a force to be reckoned with. I can remember many years ago using sledgehammers for destruction; tearing down walls and breaking up concrete when I worked in construction. When I was done with a long day’s work with the sledgehammer, I really felt like a badass, even though I was tired as hell. My forearms would be the size of grapefruits, and my core, shoulders, back, and grip would be sore for days.
An Introduction To Sledgehammer Workouts
When you think of old school training methods, the sledgehammer is one of the first things that probably comes to mind. In regards to building and developing raw strength and explosive power, nothing beats it. Of course, the main recipient of your “destructive” sledgehammer swings is a big tractor tire.
Sledgehammers come in many weights: from 4 pounds, all the way up to 30+ pounds, and some are even bigger. Along with many of the physical benefits that comes with sledgehammer training, you also feel damn good just swinging and slamming it down. It brings out your innate raw power, and leaves you feeling like a super hero (or villain, depending on your mood). You just can’t get this feeling from any piece of equipment that a fancy gym might provide.
The Benefits Of Sledgehammer Exercises
For fighters and athletes, sledgehammer exercises are great tools to use from time to time, whether it’s included into your circuit training program or as the main tool you use for strength and power development. Along with developing strength and power, you can also look to enhance wrist stability as well as strengthen the forearms and grip. Grip strength is key for both strikers and grapplers along with other major sports athletes.
Sledgehammer workouts are some of the meanest tools that you can train with, improving your strength, endurance, flexibility and explosive power. When using a sledgehammer for strength training, it causes you to use full range, multiple-joint movement focusing on acceleration, agility, coordination, speed, and mental toughness. You can use it as a full body workout with or without a tire. You can also use the sledgehammer as a warm up exercise before starting your workout with another tools.
Sledgehammers will strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments in the wrist, elbow and shoulder girdle. This is the perfect tool for fighters looking to strengthen those areas and increase explosive power. It allows for circular weight training exercises not possible with other traditional equipment. Your hand-eye coordination even improves!
Selecting A Sledgehammer For Your Workouts
Buying the right size hammer is key, if you are starting off, don’t go out and get a 16 pound hammer; this will only get you injured. Start off light and work your way up; a good weight for first timers is the 8 pounder. You can learn the technique and form with this weight and master the main exercises while increasing your endurance levels. Even a small handle sledgehammer that weighs only 4 pounds with a 12 inch handle are great to use for Donkey Kongs, short range slams while kneeling, and double slams (one small hammer in each hand).
When training with sledgehammers, emphasize repetitive slams into the program; this can develop endurance in a lot of key areas like your back, shoulders, traps, core, and arms. You can also use one-handed slams (also known as Tomahawks) which will cause you to use balance and core strength.
Foot work is key: you have to pivot one foot in some exercises and then make sure that your feet are set firmly every time (the last thing you want is the hammer coming back at you and hitting your shin). You can also square your feet up with the tire and do overhead slams, keeping your body straight and aligned. Slams requires major muscle groups and stabilizer muscles to work together during the movement, causing an awesome exercise for raw power and endurance. If you are a beginner, this is the first exercise to start with before progressing into single arm slams and so on.
The Main Benefits of Sledgehammer Exercise
- Improve work capacity
- Muscle conditioning
- Develop core strength
- Grip/forearm strength
- Full body strength & endurance
- Rotational strength
Advanced Sledgehammer Workout Techniques
As you get comfortable with the sledgehammer and doing slams and other exercises become easy, you can try juggling them. This is a true skill and takes time to develop, so start off using a very light weight and progress up. With juggling sledgehammers, you start to develop a whole new level of strength and reflex along with hand eye coordination. I would recommend starting off practicing on sand, grass, or other soft surface; you don’t want the sledgehammer to bounce if you drop it.
Beginner Sledgehammer Workout
A1: Right Side Slams – 4 x 15
A2: Left Side Slams – 4 x 15
A3: Overhead Slams – 4 x 15
Perform as a non-stop circuit, resting 15 seconds in between rounds.
Advanced Sledgehammer Workout
A1: Tomahawks (Right Hand) – 15 to 1
A2: Tomahawks (Right Hand) – 15 to 1
A3: Double Arm Slams – 15 to 1
After each circuit round, rest 15 seconds. Start with 15 reps for the first circuit and decrease reps for each progressive circuit until you are only performing 1 rep per exercise.