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The 7 Best Sledgehammer Workouts

Getting fit, burning fat, and building muscle is often presented as complicated processes. We’re frequently told that we need to use state-of-the-art workout equipment or follow time-consuming programs to achieve our fitness goals. Invariably, we’re also told we need to spend a whole lot of money too. 

However, people have been getting into amazing shape for hundreds of years, often using very basic workout equipment. 

Sledgehammer training harks back to a simpler time when exercise wasn’t time-consuming, complicated, or expensive. It’s also a whole lot of fun!

In its simplest form, sledgehammer workouts involve hitting a tire or something similar to a standard sledgehammer. That’s it! The harder and faster you hit the tire, the more demanding your workout will become. 

How can such a simple workout be so effective, you ask? 

Your body is made up of over 600 muscles, 206 bones, and billions of cells. And yet, despite this complexity, it cannot differentiate between a workout using a $20,000 treadmill and running barefootMan and woman sitting on a tire with sledge hammers on the beach. Similarly, it can’t tell the difference between doing barbell bench presses in an exclusive gym or pumping out push-ups in your garage. 

Simply put, your body only knows muscle tension and work. It doesn’t know or care where these things come from. Providing you work hard enough, your body will adapt to whatever workout you do. 

That’s why sledgehammer workouts are so effective. Your muscles, heart, and lungs have no way of knowing what type of exercise you’re doing. It just responds to the demands of your chosen activity. 

Sledgehammer workouts are undeniably unusual, but they’re a lot of fun and cost next to nothing to do. You’ll feel your workout in almost every muscle in your body, and you don’t need to go to the gym to do it. All you need is a tire, a few yards of outdoor space, and a standard sledgehammer. 

In this article, we’re going to reveal the benefits of sledgehammer training and provide you with a few workouts to try. 

It’s hammer time!

Sledgehammer Workouts

What Type of Sledgehammer Is Best to Work Out With?

Before you start searching the internet for the best workout sledgehammer, understand that you don’t need something designed specifically for exercise. Invariably, such items are expensive. 

Instead, go to your local hardware store and buy a standard sledgehammer that weighs somewhere between 7-15 lbs. Don’t automatically think that heavier is better. A mid-weight hammer is usually best because you’ll be able to swing it harder and faster. Because sledgehammers are cheap, you could evensledge hammer workout in snow buy a couple of different sizes. 

Next, you should get some work gloves as swinging a sledgehammer can be hard on your hands. Blisters are painful and can take a long time to heal, so wearing gloves is nothing but a good idea. 

Finally, you need something to hit. The best striking target is an old tire. Don’t buy one; there is no need. Instead, track down an old tire that’s been thrown away. Tire shops often give them away for free, and you can also find them abandoned at the side of the road. Bigger is better, so look for old SUV tires. 

That’s it; once you’ve got your hammer, gloves, and tire, you’re good to go! Just make sure that you’ve got enough space to swing your hammer without hitting anything. 

Benefits of Sledgehammer Training

For such a simple workout, sledgehammer workouts are incredibly beneficial. The main benefits of this type of exercise include: 

Low-Impact

Unlike jogging, running, and jumping, sledgehammer workouts are low impact and won’t overload your ankles, knees, or hips. This means they’re ideal for bigger, heavier exercisers and anyone with pre-existing lower body aches and pains. 

Self-Regulating

A sledgehammer workout is only as hard as you make it. Swing hard and fast to make things more challenging or take it easy for a less demanding workout. This means beginner, intermediate and advanced exercisers can all enjoy sledgehammer workouts. 

Full-Body

You’d be forgiven for thinking that sledgehammer workouts only hit your arms, but, in reality, it’s a full-body exercise. You’ll be using your arms, but your abs and legs get in on the action too. 

Lots of Variety

You can do standalone sledgehammer workouts or combine sledgehammer training with other exercises to create an endless array of interesting workouts. You can do long sessions of slow swings with a light hammer for cardio or hard swings with a heavier hammer for interval training. For such a simple tool, sledgehammer training is surprisingly adaptable and versatile. 

Fun

Hitting a tire with a sledgehammer is a whole lot of fun! It’s also a great stressbuster. The benefits of sledgehammer workouts are physical AND mental. 

7 Sledgehammer Workouts to Try

While you could just start whaling on your tire until it begs for mercy, you’ll get better results from a more structured approach to sledgehammer training. Here are seven workouts to try. Feel free to scale them up or down according to your current fitness levels

1. 30/30 Intervals

This workout is about as simple as sledgehammer training gets. Set a timer for 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest. Hit the tire as hard and fast as you can, catch your breath, and repeat. Each work/rest lap totals one minute, so do as many laps as you want. Ten is a good place to start. 

Keep things balanced by swinging your hammer over your left shoulder for one set and your right shoulder for the next. Swinging from the same side all the time could lead to muscle imbalances. Apply this rule to all of the following workouts. 

2. Three-Minute Rounds

Boxers are among the fittest athletes on the planet. That’s because a lot of their training involves three-minute rounds. Three minutes is a long time to work at a high-intensity level, but that’s what makes this workout so effective. 

Set your timer for three minutes of work and one minute of rest. Hit the tire hard and fast, but also pace yourself so that you can complete the entire interval and don’t exhaust yourself too soon. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat. Three to five laps should be sufficient for most people. 

3. Tabatas

Short on time? Tabatas are the answer. Set your timer for 20 seconds of work, ten seconds rest, and eighthitting tire with sledgehammer laps. Tabatas take just four minutes to complete, but it could be the longest four minutes of your life! Go as fast as you can for each work interval. If you get to the end feeling like you could have done more, you weren’t working hard enough. 

4. Race to 500

This workout is something of a no-brainer. Just hit your tire 500 times as fast as you can. Time yourself and try and beat your record when you do this work out again. If 500 hits are too many, try 300, or even 150. 

5. Ten-Minute Density Block

For this workout, you simply try to see how many hammer swings you can complete in ten minutes. Rest whenever you need to but remember that the clock is always ticking. Make a note of your score and try to beat it next time. The fitter you get, the less rest you’ll need, and the more swings you’ll be able to complete. 

6. Full-Body Mini-Circuit

Train your entire body by adding two bodyweight exercises to your sledgehammer workout. Do as many laps of the following mini-circuit as you can in 20-30 minutes. Rest when you need to, but remember the clock is always ticking. Record the number of laps completed and try to beat that score next time. 

  • 10 push-ups 
  • 15 squats 
  • 20 sledgehammer swings 

7. 20-1 Pyramid

Your final sledgehammer workout starts off hard and gets easier as you begin to fatigue. This means you should be able to start fast and maintain that pace all the way through. 

Do 20 swings, and then rest a few seconds. Do 19 swings, and rest again. Keep doing one less rep per set until you get down to one. Rest no longer between sets than you absolutely have to; this is a race! 

Bottom Line

Sledgehammer workouts are low-tech and simple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Working virtually every muscle in your body, you can use a sledgehammer and tire to increase your cardiovascular fitness, build strength, and burn fat. Best of all, this workout is cheap; you might even be able to do it for free!

On the downside, this is an outdoor workout, and it’s a noisy one too. But, because it’s high intensity, it’ll be over in 20-30 minutes, so even if you are making a lot of noise, you’ll soon be finished. 

Swinging a sledgehammer is a natural activity that most people can do instinctively. That said, hitting the same spot on a tire takes eye-hand coordination and practice, so don’t be surprised if you miss the target from time to time. 

Because of this, put your tire on dirt and not concrete or tarmac pavement or drive. The last thing we want you to do is to tear up your carport because you miss your tire a few times! 

Finally, always check your surrounding area before doing a sledgehammer workout, and make sure no-one inadvertently walks into hammer range. This goes double for kids and pets. Needless to say, getting hit with a hammer will cause serious injury.

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

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