Yes, yes, I know. Arm-Pump may sound appealing to Ken and Barbie in Malibu, but when you are staring down the business end of a grizzly opponent who means to throw you into the bleachers, it's hardly an admirable state. If you've done any type of fighting sport, from freestyle wrestling, to boxing to judo, arm-pump is a demon waiting to cast you down.
Conditioning superior grip-strength and counter-conditioning arm-pump became a major consideration for me as a U.S. Sambo Team athlete and later as the National Team coach. This emphasis resulted in the later creation of ClubbellTM Training for Circular Strength as the ultimate weapon in the specific physical preparedness for combat sports.
Since the Clubbell launch last year, my client base expanded to include some of the more extreme sports, such as motocross and BMX riders, whose lives depend upon defeating the arm-pump monster. Most of these athletes hold daytime jobs to fund their sport adventures, and train 2 to 3 times per week - competing on weekends. Even if they manage to avoid holding their breath during the "Grip of Death," arm-pump hemorrhages their performance.
Think of the incredible time under tension that the grip and forearms endure in both motocross and BMX. Now factor in that these athletes primarily control their apparatus with their hands requiring the fine motor control of a hawk diving after prey, minutely adjusting its wing feathers to avoid becoming a lawn dart while maintaining a precarious combination of maximum velocity and maximum accuracy.
To start, if you want to get the arm-pump monkey off your back, you need to devote the track time during the week. The same is true in jacket grappling sports such as judo, sambo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: you must put in the time working your grip-fighting. There's no short-cut around this and if you neglect this, come fight day or race day arm-pump is more of a guarantee than death and taxes (unless that is, you're tanking or are a genetic freak.)
If you're putting in the track time at least 2-3 times per week, you will definitely soon diminish major arm-pump. After this commitment, it's time to move on to sport specific strength conditioning! Multiple time champion road and dirt bike racer, Freddie Spencer, suggests an old-time strongman exercise of wrist-rolling using a broomstick handle, rope and a 5-pound plate. This is a great exercise for concentric wrist flexion. However, considering the constant isometric tension, and need to maneuver the handlebars under grip and forearm tension, you can truly augment your performance and chuck the arm-pump monkey off your back by going full-on with Clubbell SPP.
Train with clubbells 2-3X/week on your days you're not devoting to track time and not close to race weekend. Stop pre-fatigue on your session so you still have some gas in the tank, but make sure you're pushing the envelope.
Get the heaviest clubbell you can safely manage, but don't be deceived by these little beasts! If you're fairly athletic and have some strength training experience start with a pair of 15-pound clubbells. Otherwise, begin with 10 pounders.
Do The Following Program For Four Weeks 2X/week:
Clean to Order (with two clubbells) - 1 X 15
- First 4 Weeks Follow The Above Routine! - Print This Routine!
- For The Next 3 Weeks, Train Twice A Week & Up The Reps by:
- Clean to Order one clubbell - Up To 8-12 Reps
- Inward Shield Cast - Up To 8-12 Reps - SS w/
- Inward Pendulum - Up To 8-12 Reps
- Repeat seamlessly so that Pendulum flows into the Shield Cast. Switch Arms and repeat for 3-5 sets. - Print This Routine!
- After this, take one week away from these dragons for restoration and to let the new skill-strength "cook." Then, do the above Combination Routine again, but this time for four weeks and up the volume and density to 3X/week for 12-15 repetitions. - Print This Routine!
In the first four weeks, don't be surprised if you find yourself dealing with an increase in arm-pump during your track time. As you condition your grip and forearms initially this resolves as increased workload. This is a good argument for beginning Clubbell SPP for Motocross and BMX during your off-season (if you have one). Regardless, by the time you hit the fourth week, you'll be primed. Now, it's time to move on to Complex Training.
For Clubbell SPP that means taking your basic exercises and creating a "Combination Routine" where your ballistic exercises alternate with grinding exercises. Do the following program for three weeks 2X/week: Clean to Order one clubbell, then perform the following combination for 8-12 repetitions: Inward Shield Cast and when you return the clubbell to "Order" follow without a break immediately to an Inward Pendulum. Repeat seamlessly so that Pendulum flows into the Shield Cast. Switch Arms and repeat for 3-5 sets.
After this, take one week away from these dragons for restoration and to let the new skill-strength "cook." Then, do the above Combination Routine again, but this time for four weeks and up the volume and density to 3X/week for 12-15 repetitions.
After these 12 weeks, it's time for your After Action Report. During the entire process actively keep record of your Arm-pump threshold during race day. The newly gained neuromuscular efficiency from Clubbell SPP will push your threshold so that by the time you hit week 12, you'll reduce arm-pump to such a manageable level that you'll be able to endure 30 minutes flat-out with ease.
Always be cognizant of appropriate grip regulation while riding. Initially when you start ANY grip strength and forearm training you'll feel the tendency to grip harder. Remember that you're working for grip/forearm endurance here and have no need to rend the grip off your bike. Working with Clubbell SPP demands fine motor control under tension which makes it your ideal ally in nuking arm-pump hostiles from your race-day battlefields.
ATTENTION! The above exercise descriptions and photo depictions only discuss the program design. You must seek proper instruction from a qualified Circular Strength Trainer. We accept no liability for your attempt to reproduce these exercises. For more information on Clubbell Training for Circular Strength books, videos, and equipment go to www.clubbell.tv.
Coach Scott Sonnon
Athletic Performance Enhancement Solutions
CLUBBELL® is a registered trademark of RMAX.tv Productions, and "Clubbells" word and "Circular Strength Training" phrase are trademarks of RMAX.tv Productions.