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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Grip Training: Benefits of Sledgehammer Training

If you don't currently have a Sledgehammer to train with, I suggest you march right out and get one right now.  There are so many benefits of sledgehammer training, it is just a great way to spice up your training.
You get them at just about any store, or even right off the Amazon Website.
Speaking of Sledgehammers, I put up a new post on the site about someone who as done more impressive things with Sledgehammers than anyone walking the Earth - Slim "The  Hammer Man" Farman.
Here's the post <= My Knuckles Were Sore
Slim is famous for some unbelievable feats with hammers, many of which I would have to specialize on in my training for years in  order to match and most likely still never come close.
However, I was surprised to see some remarkable progress in one particular feat Slim is famous for which has been called "The Slim Lever."
Check the new post out to see how it's done.
Now, as I said, there are many benefits to Sledgehammer Training, and it is a good idea to have at least a 6-lber in your arsenal if you are a woman and an 8-lber if you are a man.  Let's run down some of the benefits of sledgehammer training.
1.  Grip Strength
It takes a concerted effort between the forearm, wrist and the hands to maneuver a Sledgehammer. 
It doesn't matter if you are swinging it around with faster movements, or if you are being more strict and controlled with it, Sledges will light you up.
To give you an idea of the many ways you can  use these for Grip Strength, you can use them in strict movements to strengthen the wrist movements of nail bending, you can use them more dynamically to strengthen faster movement patterns like a golf or baseball swing, and you can even add weight to them and rotate them like a wrist curl. 
All of these techniques are easy to set up but blow your forearms up and give you much tougher wrists and hands. And honestly, we've only scratched the surface of what you can  use them for.
2.  Cardio
If you are looking for a new to train for some cardiovascular  fitness, then try swinging a sledgehammer and striking a tire or a tree stump. 
Try just 30 seconds of constant overhand swinging and you will see just how demanding it is, even with a relatively light sledgehammer.
3. Shoulder Health
Most people don't think of this one, but it is true, sledgehammers work the shoulders very well, especially if you swing them in circular forms, similar to how Indian Clubs and Maces are used.  Just a simple sledge can be really useful toward loosening up the shoulders prior to a big pressing workout, or to help you get into better position under the bar for squats.
4.  Core Strength
Because of the awkward nature of the sledgehammer, your core has to work quite a bit harder and definitely in a different way when swinging one. 
And don't just think of the core as the abdominal muscles alone, think of the lats and the glutes as well.  All of these body parts are firing when you swing a sledge, especially if you can swing laterally against an object like a standing tire - talk about crazy rotation and deceleration training.  This is great for bat and stick sports and even combat athletes.
5.  Contra-Specific Training
Contra-Specific Training is a concept that is out there but you don't hear much about yet, but I think you will in the future.  The main idea behind it is strengthening opposing movement patterns. 
A prime example would be coupling Pull-ups with Military Press because they work complimentary pulling and pushing movements. 
Sledgehammers can accomplish the same thing, especially for those who do so much Kettlebell work, which involves Extension of the body.   Sledges, when used to strike down onto something, work powerful Flexion - both styles of training compliment one another very well and I think with time you will see more and more of this mentioned.
Sledge work is great for everybody.  It can be done as a way to isolate movement patterns like various wrist and forearm actions, or it can be done in more of a full-body, multi-joint manner of training.
So make sure you get one for yourself (you can grab one here) and don't forget to check out the new post on Slim the Hammer Man.
All the best in your training.

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