Jim Schmitz on the Lifts

Sledgehammer Clean and Press


John Brookfield's Grip Tips


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By John Brookfield

Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength,
The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning 

Sledgehammer Clean and Press

Here is one of my favorite grip training exercises. In fact, I often use it for a feat of strength in some of my shows. It places a tremendous amount of stress on the hand. It is also perhaps the most deceptive looking feat of grip strength under the sun. If you read my book Mastery of Hand Strength, you may remember the double hammer squeeze where you lift two sledgehammers with the ends of the handles overlapping slightly and the heads going in opposite directions.

Well, with this exercise you start the same way by lifting the hammers off the ground and to your side. Now slowly turn the hammers vertically while maintaining a tight grip on the handles. From here, slowly turn the hammers over and clean them to your shoulder. Be sure that your grip is secure throughout the movement. Once the hammers are at shoulder level, press them slowly overhead. From here, simply return them back to the original position, holding them at your side. Repeat the movement, cleaning and pressing them again as many times as you can. Remember to use a controlled, slow movement throughout the exercise. This will require tremendous squeezing pressure from the hand.

If at any point in the lift you feel the handles of the hammers start to slip or shift, be sure to stop and re-grip the handles. If they slip apart at the wrong time it could be dangerous, so be ready at all times. Also, be sure to practice this either outside or in a large open area without anyone next to you.

Remember, this exercise is very difficult, and you will have to use medium-sized to small hammers. I use eight-pound hammers, or six-pound hammers if I'm doing several repetitions. I suggest that you overlap the handles a little bit more than a single hand-hold for security. One thing you will quickly learn is that when you clean or turn the handles over to your shoulder level, the pressure will shift slightly from your index and middle finger to your last two fingers. This is why cleaning and pressing hammers is so difficult.

Cleaning and pressing hammers will give you a real challenge and also a real sense of accomplishment when you can perform it consistently.




Editor's note:  John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.

To learn more about IronMind's world-renowned Captains of Crush® Grippers and other CoC 2 Grip Tools, please visit the IronMind on-line store.

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