As a personal trainer and a strength coach – and from my own workouts – I can offer some interesting tips that will help you to get the most out of your sledgehammer training workouts.
Since I started using the sledgehammer in my own workouts and in the workouts of my personal training clients and sports teams, I’ve come up with – what I think – are some important pointers and observations that can be of benefit to anyone who trains with the sledgehammer.
Being that I utilize the sledgehammer in my training once per week, and use it several more times in the sessions of my personal training clients, I have hit on (pun intended) some useful tips. Tens of thousands of sledgehammer swings have helped me figure out the best way to incorporate this kind of training into a traditional routine.
I’ve also come to some conclusions – or opinions, more accurately – about the best techniques to use when training with the sledgehammer. When it comes to what to hit with the sledgehammer, wood is best. Tires are fine, they don’t wear out as much and you can use them indoors, but I don’t like the rebound; I think it makes the exercise a bit easier. That being said, this can be chalked up more to personal preference than empirical certainty, so if you prefer tires stick with them.
When it comes to using wood, I’ve used logs about 24 inches high and stumps that are pretty much flush to the ground. At first I thought hitting the higher log made the exercise a bit easier, but after spending time (and effort!) hitting both, I think that there’s not much difference between the two.
Actually, hitting the flush to the ground stump might be a bit easier since a more complete range of motion is needed. Hitting the log interrupts the range of motion in mid swing, which is awkward and results in more shock being absorbed by the hands and arms. I use both the logs and the stumps in order to get variety in my training.
You can vary your stance when swinging the sledgehammer, which will have the effect of placing different demands on the muscles of the torso. Using the differences in terrain, and perhaps one foot being higher than the other or hitting a stump/log at an angle, can also provide the opportunity for variety.
I use the sledgehammer as part of a traditional workout – as in a circuit training routine – and as a standalone workout, and while both strategies are great, I prefer to use the sledgehammer all by itself. I set either a time limit or a swing limit and proceed.
The minimum time frame for my sledgehammer workout is 20 minutes with the max at about 30-35 minutes. And varying the weight of the sledgehammer used has a lot to do with the total swings and/or time limit; usually the heavier sledgehammer will result in a workout with fewer total swings.
A good “light/heavy” rule of thumb to use with your sledgehammer training is that the heavy sledgehammer that you use should be twice as heavy as the light sledge. Beginners can use the 5-pound/10-pound combination, intermediate the 8-pound/16-pound and advanced the 10-pound/20-pound combo. You can use both sledges during the same workout or stick to using one weight for the duration.
That’s the great thing about sledgehammer training, there’s no expert looking over your shoulder telling you what’s right or wrong. Hey, I’m just trying to help steer you in the right direction so that you can get the most out of this form of exercise.
The most important thing is that you try using the sledgehammer. Sledgehammer training is portable, inexpensive, effective, and efficient and can be done outside regardless of the weather. So give it a shot let me know if you have any questions.