In the last issue I discussed the equipment needed to begin using the sledgehammer for weighted GPP. To reiterate, several of the benefits of using this common tool include increasing rotational and angular/diagonal strength of the trunk, increasing forearm and wrist strength, increasing reaction times of the forearm and wrist muscles as they stabilize the hammer's handle and an overall increase in the body's strength-endurance capabilities. We will now get started with the first type of swing we use: diagonal swinging.
How To Do It
Last week's article showed a picture of me holding the sledgehammer. This is the beginning position. The hand nearest the hammer part will be called the slide hand. The hand at the end of the handle will be the static hand. Decide which side to hit to first. Stand in front of the tire and square yourself up to it. What I mean is place the center of your abdomen in line with the center of the tire. Back up from the tire about 12-18 inches depending upon how tall you are. Then place your feet just wider than shoulder width and parallel to each other. If you decide to make the static hand your left, you will be swinging to your left and contacting the tire on the left side. When you reach the number of contacts you wish to on that side, you will then switch your hands quickly and do the same to the right side.
During the first workout I suggest you do the first set slow to get your rhythm right. For the following scenario and instructions, we will be having the static hand as our left and contacting the tire on the left side. As you start to swing back make sure you rotate your body while keeping your feet planted. Moving the feet during this exercise is not wanted or suggested as you will lose some of the effect we are trying to achieve. When you have rotated and laterally flexed your trunk and hips enough reverse this direction. As you reverse the movement, your slide hand (right hand) will move down the handle to meet up with your left hand during the swing.
Your buttocks will push backward as you bring the sledgehammer down to contact the tire. After hitting the tire, the sledgehammer will bounce a little off of it, but as I stated last week, I suggest you contact the tire just inside the outside edge where the tire is harder. When the sledgehammer bounces up, start to pull it up and back and start another rep. One other item to mention is occasionally when the sledgehammer hits the tire, the sledgehammer handle may want to twist in your hand or the hammer part may want to go to the side. Make sure you have a good grip on the handle with your static hand to prevent this. Another way to train that grip!
An interesting item to note is for most right-hand dominant people, swinging to the left will be easy, especially if you have swung a sledgehammer before. When you start to swing to the right with the left side of your body, make sure all video and regular cameras are turned off as you will feel and look goofy!! The reason for this is since you are right-handed, your central nervous system (CNS) is used to swinging with the right side of your body. You now are asking it to swing with the non-dominant side of your body, which will feel and look weird at first. After a few hundred reps over several workouts, swinging with the left side of your body will start to approach the normality of the swing of the right side.
Go With The Flow
All I can say is stick with it and go slow at first until you feel more comfortable swinging with your left side. When you feel more comfortable, increase the contact frequency and speed to bring it up to par with the right side. When you bring the left side up to speed with the right, you will be that much more prepared for your sport as your weaker and non-dominant side will be able to hold its own just like the right side does when you encounter the type of scenarios I mentioned in Part 1 of this series. Of course, if you are left-handed, then just reverse the aforementioned information in this paragraph.
The next issue we will discuss and show another of the three ways we swing the sledgehammer. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.