Introduction to Sledgehammer Training

ATH - Sledgehammer Training

SLEDGEHAMMER TRAINING BASICS

Sledgehammer training puts your strength and endurance to the test, while improving overall fitness.

Incorporating sledgehammer training into your regime can benefit your functional strength and fitness and by the end of your sessions, your swinging muscles will be on fire!  

So, let’s dig a little deeper into the ins and outs of sledgehammer training. Plus, we’ll give you a workout routine to use so you can experience for yourself the intensity and benefits of this type of training...

INTRODUCTION TO SLEDGEHAMMER TRAINING

One of the oldest forms of training around, sledgehammer training builds strength, explosive power, and overall functional fitness. 

You've most likely seen the typical training setup. The monster truck tire lays on the ground, while an individual swings the sledgehammer overheard to slam it into the rubber before it bounces back and another repetition is performed. 

These are called tire slams, but you don't have to repetitively bash in a tire to reap the benefits of sledgehammer training. Effective movements can also be done in flows, just like kettlebell flows. 

We'll dig into movements in a little, but for now, let's get started and familiarize ourselves with sledgehammer training. 

Sledgehammers come in various weights; from 4 pounds all the way up to 30 and beyond. 

Whether you're a beginner just starting out or a pro looking to increase explosive power, you can't beat the feeling you get when you've finished a sledgehammer routine. 

Keep reading to understand the benefits, muscles worked, and effective sledgehammer training to add to your regime. 

BENEFITS OF SLEDGEHAMMER TRAINING

  • Increased Strength 
  • Improved Endurance
  • Improved Muscle Conditioning 
  • Improved Power and Explosiveness 
  • Improved Grip and Forearm Strength  

Sledgehammer training offers an array of benefits no matter what type of athlete you may be. Include them in your circuit training for an intense cardio session to elevate your heart rate and improve aerobic capacity and metabolic conditioning or use it as a tool to build strength, power, and explosiveness. 

Incorporating sledgehammer movements into your training will naturally strengthen the forearms, improve wrist mobility, and increase grip strength. 

Sledgehammer training uses full range movements which will improve functional fitness, coordination, and agility. 

If you're looking to add functional fitness, strength, endurance, and explosiveness to your regime, you've come to the right place! 

WHAT MUSCLES GET WORKED?

  • Back 
  • Shoulders 
  • Traps 
  • Core 
  • Arms 

Sledgehammer training is a full-body workout that helps to improve muscular endurance in these key areas: back, shoulders, traps, core, and arms. 

Before moving on advanced sledgehammer exercises, start off with slam to build coordination and balance. 

Slams are a full-body workout that also focuses on coordination, power, explosiveness, rotational strength, and reflexes. 

DOES SWINGING A SLEDGEHAMMER BUILD MUSCLE?

You’ll definitely experience muscle and strength gains due to the weight of the sledgehammer providing resistance against the muscle used. And the impact of the sledgehammer hitting the tire will challenge the muscles as you try to drive the hammer as hard as you can into it. 

However, it’s important to remember that the tire slam should not replace your conventional progressive weight training routine using compound lifts to build maximum muscle size. And that’s because there isn’t a sufficient resistance load placed on the target muscles to elicit a big enough stress response and you still need peak contraction to cause maximum muscle tissue breakdown for optimal gains

But that’s why sledgehammer training serves a main purpose to improve functional strength, power, and explosiveness as opposed to being a real muscle building movement.

HOW TO PICK A SLEDGEHAMMER

Picking the appropriate sledgehammer is key to reaping the benefits and keeping clear from injury. 

If you're new to sledgehammer training, start light and work your way up. Depending on your strength, we recommend starting with a hammer between 4-8 pounds. 

You can find hammers up to 30 pounds or more. So start light, build your strength and technique before moving up in weight. 

Now when it comes to hammer length, longer handles are best for standing slams and leverage while shorter handles are ideal for kneeling and double slams. 

SLEDGEHAMMER EXERCISES

Tire slams are the most common form of sledgehammer exercises. But there are a few different variations which include overhead slams, right side slams and left side slams. 

Then you have sledgehammer workouts where you simply use it as a functional, resistance training tool. 

Check out this video for additional sledgehammer training ideas and exercises besides the basic swings. These exercises are great for agility, balance and core strength as well.

To perform the basic side slam, you want to take a staggered stance (one foot in front) and swing the sledgehammer in circular motions sliding the top hand down the whole handle until you slam the tire

You can get even better power through pivoting the front foot as you swing the hammer back before you slam it down. 

The overhead slam can be performed with the feet shoulder-width distance apart and it’ll be, of course, more of an overhead slam motion as opposed to the side slams. 

SLEDGEHAMMER WORKOUT

Here’s a basic beginner and more advanced sledgehammer workout. 

BEGINNER SLEDGEHAMMER WORKOUT

Perform as a circuit, resting 20 seconds between each round. 

Exercise 

Sets 

Reps 

Left Side Slams 

3

15

Right Side Slams 

3

15

Overhead Slams

3

15


ADVANCED SLEDGEHAMMER WORKOUT

Perform each exercise as a circuit, resting 20 seconds between each round. For the alternating and double arm slams, perform 12 on each side. 

Exercise

Sets

Reps 

Right Hand Tomahawks 3 15
Left Hand Tomahawks  3 15
Alternating Slams  3 12
Double Arm Slams  3 12


Up for a challenge? Test your balance and coordination by standing on a Bosu Ball while overhead slamming. 

  • 3 sets x 12 reps

Here’s a video example: 



HOW OFTEN TO TRAIN

Training two to three times per week is a good starting point for most. As you advance in your training, you'll be able to understand your body better and adjust your training schedule. 

Remember that recovery is also key.

Overtraining can lead to injury, listen to your body, rest when needed, and supplement with POST workout to rebuild muscle tissues and restore muscle glycogen. 

HOW TO PROGRESS

How do we progress when it comes to any form of resistance/endurance training? We can up the resistance used (progressive overload), increase the volume, implement new exercises, decrease rest times and deload every now and then. 

Progression results from pushing yourself harder and creating a progressive challenge to the body. Exercise intensity is key and making the exercises more difficult through utilizing variations is a good place to start. 

"High-intensity interval training provides variety and challenges that appeal to some types of personalities," says Mercedes Carnethon, who is an epidemiologist and vice-chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

So not only is sledgehammer training good for improving functional performance but you can tailor it to your liking. 

BOTTOM LINE 

Sledgehammer training is a viable option for improving all aspects of functional strength and performance. There are different variations of sledgehammer exercises and various levels of difficulty of each one. 

The basic sledgehammer tire slam is pretty easy to get down so take it upon yourself to implement some of the basics for your own physical fitness benefit based on the provided instructional videos. Then turn up the volume once you get more advanced as a result.

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