Dr. Michael Hartle
Medical Committee Chair
Sledge Hammer GPP, Pt. 1
the God of Thunder, brought his hammer down with such force that
it shook the Earth for miles around�. That is as far as I am going
to go with my mythological storytelling! What I am really going
to talk about is a different type of General Physical Preparedness
(GPP) exercise that I have created and incorporated here at our
Athletic Performance Center: SledgeHammering!!
years, much has been talked about GPP of different forms, both weighted
and non-weighted. We have heard about sled work, using the wheelbarrow
with weight, flipping tires, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc.
What I am advocating is using a sledgehammer as another form of
weighted GPP. Think about it: grab a 10# sledgehammer and swing
it continuously for 2-4 minutes, switching sides every 10-15 strikes.
You will feel it everywhere: abdominals, erectors, deeper lower
back muscles like the multifidi and rotares (which help with rotation,
extension and lateral flexion of the spine - important movements
for any sport), glutes, hip adductors and abductors, upper back
and chest regions, forearms and wrists. Pretty much everywhere.
No wonder the old-timers that used to throw the sledgehammer around
for 8-10 HOURS per day on the job were in great shape and were very
Athletes participating in sports such as football,
baseball, powerlifting, wrestling, basketball, hockey, bowling,
weightlifting, lacrosse, track & field, soccer, swimming, etc.
would greatly benefit from doing sledgehammer GPP. Imagine this:
a football lineman explodes out of his stance after the ball is
hiked. As he approaches his counterpart on the other side of the
line, he has to quickly extend, laterally flex and rotate his trunk
in order to prepare himself to hit the opposing player properly
as the opposing player is trying to get away from him. This will
also allow him to execute the play the way it was meant to. This
type of scenario happens thousands of times in football, throughout
all positions on the field. All the aforementioned sports have this
kind of movement scenario or combination thereof, occur all the
time. The competitive athlete needs to have these motor recruitment
patterns in place in addition to them being strong and functional.
If they are not functioning properly, sports performance will suffer
and injury will follow soon thereafter.
One of the areas
that the sledgehammer greatly improves upon is rotary and angular/diagonal
trunk strength. When using the sledgehammer, you can change the
degree of angle or even the direction of the sledgehammer while
you are swinging it. Most weight programs focus on the big lifts
to enhance their athletes sports performance and decrease incidence
of injury: squat, bench press, deadlift, power clean, etc. While
these lifts will enhance an athlete's performance on the field,
they are all done essentially in a singular plane aspect. They will
allow an athlete to jump higher, run faster, hit harder, etc., but
ALL sports will require the athlete during practice/competition
to utilize their body in one, two or all three planes of motion
at the same time. This means the athlete needs to have the motor
units of the rotary and angular/diagonal muscles ready to assist
the prime movers as they function in a near-maximal or maximal state
and are ready to function when called upon. An example of this is
as follows: a hockey player can power clean 110 kg for 5 reps. A
very good weight for anyone. Now, when he gets on the ice he is
able to use this added strength to check harder and skate faster.
However, when it comes time to hit the puck as hard and with as
much finesse as he can, he is not able to transfer all that added
strength to hitting the puck. Why? In this example, his prime mover
muscles are strong, but his rotary and angular/diagonal muscles
are not as functional. When it came time to utilize his new strength,
there was a loss of power transfer to the puck since his trunk stabilizers
and movers were not as strong, thereby not allowing the prime movers
of his body to put forth all of their power. If these trunk stabilizers
and movers were stronger and more functional, there would less power
loss during transfer of the energy created by the prime movers to
the rotary and angular/diagonal muscles, thereby creating a more
powerful slapshot! Whew!!
In the next couple of issues I
will discuss several different methods of using the sledgehammer,
including applying the periodization model to training with it and
what type and where you can get the proper equipment to make this
type of training effective and successful for you and your athletes!!
The Athletic Performance Center (APC) is offering physical
therapy and rehabilitation services, one-on-one personal training
and last, but certainly not least, athletic performance training.
Michael Robertson, MS, CSCS, a Ball State University graduate, is
the director of this new division. We are currently working on the
website for the APC and I will let you know when it is up and running.
This is the place to go in the Midwest for the aforementioned services.
More to come on this in the future!!
I look forward to hearing
your comments. If you have any questions, feel free to email me
Michael A. Hartle,
Executive Committee Board Member
Chairman, USA Powerlifting Sports
Chairman, USA Powerlifting Drug Testing Committee