Sledgehammer strength training offers a unique and challenging way to improve your level of conditioning and personal trainers and do-it-yourself weekend warriors will benefit from strength training the sledgehammer way.

For this workout I combined sledgehammer swings with a non-traditional exercise that I call “Cliffhangers,” and pull-ups.  As you can see in the video clip my deck plays a big part in the workout.  The Cliffhangers are a great example of a non-traditional strength training exercise that will improve the strength of your entire upper body.

You should all be familiar with sledgehammer swings and pull-ups by now.

Cliffhangers are something that I’ve been toying with for a while, and have just recently started to include in my strength training sessions and using them in combination with other strength training exercises.  The Cliffhangers, as I do them on my deck, place a great deal of stress on the fingers, hands and forearms as there is nothing to actually grab on to as in traditional pull-ups, minimizing the help that you get from the thumb.

Using the surface of the deck requires that the hands work in an upside down “L-shape,” where the fingers at the base where they meet the hand and the thumb is held tightly against the hand, as there is nothing for it to wrap around.  Once the grip is established, from the hanging position tighten your upper back, shoulders and abdominal muscles and slightly – slightly – bring your knees forward as you attempt to traverse the surface. 

Use short movements and don’t let your hands get any wider than your shoulders at any time. As you can see in the video clip, my hands give out after about 12 feet and 10 seconds.  Working the Cliffhangers in with the sledgehammer swings results in the arms fatiguing a lot sooner than when doing either exercise alone. 

However, this is all part of the training stimulus and you will see that your strength and performance of these moves will improve by working them together.

The deck pull-ups are a great finish to the circuit. Given the massive amount of work that the arms are doing with the swings and Cliffhangers, the pull-ups are very difficult to perform.  Since I do pull-ups and variations at least twice per week, 3 pull-ups in this circuit is sufficient for me.

The entire workout took 25 minutes to complete.  I warmed up for approximately 5 minutes and performed 5 circuits.  The first 2 circuits I used the 10-pound sledgehammer for 60 swings, did the Cliffhangers for 12 feet/10 seconds and performed 3 pull-ups.

For circuits 3 and 4 I used the 20-pound sledgehammer for 40 swings with the same routine for the other moves.  For the final circuit I used the 20-pounder for 40, completed the other moves and finished off with 40 swings with the 10-pounder.

Each circuit took approximately 2 minutes to complete and I rested for 2 minutes in between each circuit. Give the circuit a try and also try to find a place either around the house or at the gym where you can try the Cliffhangers.


  1. Have you heard of “shovelglove,” the funny, quirky sledgehammer workout some guy dreamed up? It’s so goofy that it makes me want to buy a sledgehammer and try it out. Care to opine?

  2. i love shovelglove…i’ve referenced his site in three of my other sledgehammer training pieces…i think his program is awesome for people who are stuck indoors and as a warm up/preparation routine for those of us wacky enough to whack away at a stump or tire!


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