The Beginners Clubbell Workout!

Learn how to get starting with clubbells with this all-in-one guide. Exercise pictures and videos included on how to properly perform the exercises. Check back soon for part two and three and the HUGE clubbell exercise database!
NOTE: This is A BEGINNER program, click here for the intermediate program.

After hours of market research, conducted by my training staff at Power Concepts, this title was the best we could come up with. But it's easy to remember, and like a plain black and white business card, doesn't overstimulate the central nervous system.

But honestly, focus is an important thing for the beginning clubbellTM user. My advice up front is to see the video and book Clubbell Training For Circular Strength by Coach Scott Sonnon MS, and that stands. It stands because it will ensure optimum safety and optimum understanding of all terms. It is important to proper form and safety that when you get lost for what to do, you just whip out the book, video or the cool Clubbell info data base here at Bodybuilding.com which is currently in the works.

OK, let's get focused. I am going to presuppose that you have read the book or seen the video. I will also provide a basic description, but nothing beats a picture, except a video of course. I also have some recommendations for newbies to clubbell work, so read on.


Clubbell Preparation

The first thing you need to train in Clubbells is an understanding of sustained and flowing tension. As the saying goes, "Tension gives strength, but tension causes exhaustion" So how do you attain fluid tension, or tension in motion? Please consider the following as but a few examples of how you can begin to experience "tension of your core and body in motion."

The Clubbell Hydra:

This is also known as the 2-ended swing. As you swing forward you bend low, (in a skier's crouch, butt back and knees do not track forward, squeeze your abs, butt and legs.) Raise up a tiny bit so the club does not strike the ground, and continue your swing to the rear, tension is maintained. Now just cycle smoothly, flowing with it. You go up and squat down, but you never actually leave that skier's crouch kind of position. This will teach you "Tension in Motion."

ADVICE & A WARNING: Ease into this, and I mean ease into it. Take your time with this 2-headed dragon. Your knees will hurt if you overdo it, so just plain don't overdo it!

Even if you are totally and utterly awful at grappling, find a buddy who is kinda good or, better still, an expert, and have him take you out on the mat. Just go at it. As you are the novice, it's best if he just lets you try your best, but doesn't do you in with loads of painful tap outs. We don't want you injured. As you try to overpower and get the best of him or her, you will experience two things. Fluid tension in motion at its best, (now remember to lock that in your memory). And you will also experience coughing up a lung from exhaustion. Find a friend with no ego axes to grind and have fun! I was fortunate to have Coach Sonnon for this drill. Grappling with Scott is like trying to catch, then hold, your own shadow.

And, again, be careful and take your time. If all you've ever done is bodybuilding or power training, your first foray onto the mat will be humiliating at best. Just go with it. You will learn more about "you" that first few times than any shrink could ever offer in months of couch time. And it's way cheaper.

The Kettlebell Swing: View Pictures

Man, this is great exercise for any beginning Clubbell enthusiast. I have an article on Dragon Door on the basics of a good KB Swing. And Pavel has many good books and tapes too. Mike Mahler is here at BB.com and is a perfect resource for swing fundamentals. Be sure to check out the huge kettlebell exercise database!

On the swing, you breath in sharply on the bottom and out with a tssst sound to tighten abs, butt, legs and paw the ground with your toes, on the upswing top. It will also condition the hell out of your body and make you a hard man, even if you're a woman. (Sorry Pavel, stole that one, but I like it)

Pick up a REALLY heavy object, like a sandbag. Make it so heavy you have to brace your abs, butt, thighs, yes you must squeeze really frigg'n tight. Hug it to your chest, lots of breath and brace and now walk it for 50 yards in one direction, and then walk it back. Stop crying you big baby, you're here to become the new breed of American bodybuilder. Yes you're full of "Pumpitude" but you're also gonna be really strong and super athletic. It's a great mix, trust me. Now remember how you squeezed and braced and breathed as you carried the sand bag from hell. That is an example of functional tension in motion.

No sand bag around, grab some cinder blocks, no blocks? Grab a wheelbarrow and load it up extra heavy, dirt, sand, water and go for it. A beer keg that is full or a water barrel. Be creative. Pick up your girlfriend and carry her (if you're in shape), heck, grab both girlfriends and carry 'em up the stairs. Wait, that one might not be a good idea, scratch that one. Hey I'm not perfect. But you get my point.


Three Moves to Catapult You From Beginner To Intermediate

Well, let's get you rolling now. For the record, I'm now presupposing that you can brace fluidly since you've taken the time to practice it in some way as encouraged above. Or, like many who come here, you already have fluid tension down and working well.

Call To Order:

Great for Stability, this is numero uno with Clubs. The Club Swing is for foundational and core strength, and as with KB's, the swing is king. But next is this move. To do it, swing the club backward a bit and scoop the tip upward as your hand punches under. You end with the club pointing up in a crush grip, your elbow close to your hip bone but not on it. Hold this for no more than five seconds, less is fine, swing back along your side and call it back up to order.

Many a client has commented that the first five or so are so easy, they think, "What the heck does this guy think he's doing, this is pointless, but by rep 12 they're whining, "I'm wasted." I've heard it many times. And with a heavier club, it takes less reps of course. Over time, it will take more sets and higher reps to tax you. That is the goal and when you can call to order for 12 or so and you can do five sets of that without frying your grip. You are ready for intermediate level training. Don't rush it, recovery matters. You can shorten and challenge your recovery over time. As with all things I recommend, just ease into it.

What will you get out of it? As bodybuilders, the first and most important gain will be awesome grip strength and shoulder stability. It will translate to things like military press increases and bench press stability within weeks of starting. You'll like the results.

Forward Leverage Press:

Great for strength, when you read the book by Coach Sonnon, you will certainly see plenty of moves you may have chosen instead of this one, but consider the goal here. Call to Order will give you stability and this one will give you strength. As a newcomer to clubbells, you need these two things first and foremost. To do this one, shoulder park your clubbell so it's resting at about 45 degrees. Crush grip it and push press it upward.

Stop at the top, the club should lean back toward you in the same angle. The first five reps don't seem so bad. Let me know how rep 12 feels on set three. This exercise is worth getting down if for no other reason than it makes all other clubbells movements easier.

Squat & Torch Press:

I debated over whether to place a minor combination movement like this in with the beginner section, alas the desire to make you cough up a hairball won out in the end. This is a basic combo, and it nails the legs, and most of the stability needs of early Clubbell trainees. To do this, call to order, push your butt back to squat, knees do not track forward. Fold at the hips not the waistline. Bottom out with your squat (no bounce) and explode upward.

As you stand push the Clubbell up over your head to arm lockout like you are carrying a torch. Return it to call to order and squat at once. So now you go up and down, up and down. When you can finally use a really heavy club, this simple and basic drill will supercharge your full body explosive potential. Keep in mind, explosive strength is the kind of strength that can lead to stable joints, tendons and mind/body coordination. And explosive strength is great for heavy bodybuilding lifts.


Congratulations, You're A Member of the Tribe Now

So there you have it. Three basic drills to start your foundation. There are 30 or so Clubbell General Physical Preparedness (GPP) moves, and that is without combining them into things like a squat and torch press (two of the GPP combined actually). The three I've given you here are good to grow on. Hopefully, exercise three puts the idea that Clubbells aren't just for shoulders and grip to rest too.

Finally, while I only recommend you do the clubbell GPP for your first few months of training, how you create combinations with those 30 or so moves is entirely up to you, and could keep you occupied for a lifetime.

Let's see, 30 exercises, in a combination of 3 moves with one clubbell along a 3-dimensional plane, hmm, was never good at math or geometry but ... oh my god that's like a billion permutations! (Like I said, math is not my thing.) The GPP set into combination form should be able to keep us all busy until the heat death of the universe or so ...

Swing away!

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