John Brookfield's Grip Tips
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
In this month's Grip Tip, I will share another unique and unseen exercise. We are going to use one of our favorite old tools. If you have not guessed it yet, it is the sledgehammer. Actually, you can use many different items for this exercise; however, the sledgehammer is probably the easiest and most convenient. Once again, the size and weight of the hammer are up to you and your experimentation. Once you find the right sized hammer, you are ready to begin. In the photo at right, I am using an eight-pound sledgehammer with a shaft thirty-six inches in length.
To start, grasp the end of the hammer shaft with both hands and hold the hammer out in front of you in a fairly straight line. Keep in mind that your arms don't have to be straight or in the locked position. From this point, rotate your hands in a clockwise direction, moving clockwise, then back, until you are fatigued.
From here, reverse the rotation so that the hammer and your hands are being rotated counterclockwise. Once again, continue this rotation, counterclockwise, then back to the starting position, until you are fatigued and need to put your sledgehammer down. This is a difficult exercise and puts the entire lower arm to work. The wrists get a particularly good workout throughout the movement, which is great for the arm wrestler and will help any technique used in arm wrestling.
As always, strive to improve your strength on this movement. There are, of course, many ways to do this. You can use a bigger, heavier hammer for the exercise, or you can rotate the hammer for a longer time. If you train very hard, you may even be able to perform the hammer rotation with one hand – a great goal to work toward. It is very hard, but possible.
If this exercise feels a little awkward at first, work through it until you have a feel for it. The backs of your forearms will feel a big-time burn once you have mastered the rotation. Also, remember to rotate both directions, clockwise and counterclockwise.
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.
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