Workout Report: Ersatz Hammer Work

Posted: January 22, 2011 in Workout Reports

I was over at my friend Brian’s house last night, and I became pulled into a fun makeshift workout by another clever friend, Dave.  He disassembled loadable dumbbells and used two spin collars to create a makeshift hammer.

Now, there’s a whole school of exercise that is based on a variety of weighty objects such as clubs, maces, and hammers.  The short hammers are primarily used for grip, wrist, and forearm strength, while sledge-length hammers can be used as a full-body workout.  Notably, boxers tend to use a sledgehammer to good effect by hitting tractor tires over a time, thus both strengthening their hands/arms and putting a serious cardiovascular load on their systems.

Meanwhile, grip geeks like myself tend to like to do a variety of moves with shorter hammers, primarily using them to put a hurtin’ upon our wrists.  One can obviously buy a hammer just for this purpose, often loadable with lead or steel shot, or even sand.  Others are hammer handles that can be loaded with weight plates.  If you have a pair of plate-loaded dumbbells kicking around, however, you can make a tune-able hammer with a few collars and some weight.  Dave kindly gave me an example of this.

On a short hammer, three pounds will allow most people to do a variety of wrist rotations, extensions, and flexions.  Putting six or so pounds on makes it much more challenging.  When you put ten pounds on the end of your makeshift hammer, you’re getting into serious business.

Can you do more stuff with them than just smack your lower arms around?  Yes.  Try holding just a ten pound “torch” made in this way at arm’s length and you’ll find that it’s harder than you expected.  Swing the weights around your head or re-enact the moves that a flight-control guy would do on the tarmac of an airstrip, and you’ll soon be sweating.  The worst load is certainly on your hands and wrists, but you can spread the hurt around if you’re clever.

I fiddled around with these ersatz hammers all evening, and I could really feel it afterward.  Of course, my insane obsession with phonebooks had also risen its ugly head, so that did part of the damage, as well.

I think that one of the primary thesis points I am constantly making is that there are a million ways to challenge your body, and that there’s no reason to let things get stale or miss exercising just because you can’t make it to the gym.  Hoist up a chair, or your backpack, or whatever’s heavy or clumsy in your environment.  Keep it fun, and keep asking your body to amaze you.  It sometimes will.

Happy Lifting!


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