A Word on Strike Conditioning
Swinging your sledge hammer at an old tire is an excellent old school conditioning exercise for anaerobic strength and work capacity. It will insure your strikes have not only power, but endurance and as well. Old tires are fairly easy to come by, usually any Tire and Auto place will have a bunch of old tires sitting in a pile outside waiting for disposal. If you ask nicely, they are pretty happy to give you a couple for free.
There are a few different protocols that I like to use for this exercise:
Density training is one option. The concept of Density Training is pretty simple. Do more work in the same amount of time or do the same amount of work in less time. So, for example using hitting the tire with a sledge hammer as the exercise and the last time you used this protocol you managed to do 100 swings in 5 minutes, then this session you would either try to increase the number of swings you can do in 5 minutes or strive to do 100 swings in less than 5 minutes. Not rocket science, right? What if this is your first time attempting this type of training? Pick an amount of time, say 5 minutes. Then try to do as many hammer swings as you possibly can in those 5 minutes. Crank them out. Push yourself. Remember the time limit used and amount of reps achieved, or preferably write it down, and the next time do more.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is another one. It is perhaps one of the best ways to train for endurance. It will enhance all 3 energy systems in the body (2 anaerobic and 1 aerobic – see here for an overview), as well as prime the nervous system to recover automatically during lulls in activity. Simply put, HIIT alternates periods of high intensity exercise with periods of rest and recovery. It can be performed with almost any exercise and can be utilized both with and without equipment. The variety and adaptability of this style of training is second to none in results.
No discussion of interval training would be complete without touching on the Tabata Protocol. Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan performed perhaps the most well known study on interval training. A group exercising with moderate intensity endurance training was compared to another group using high intensity intermittent training. Each group exercised 5 days a week. The moderate intensity group exercised for 60 minutes, at 70% VO2 max. The high intensity group did 8 intervals of 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of recovery. They operated at 170% VO2 max.
After 6 weeks, both groups experienced improvements in maximal oxygen uptake. The biggest difference between them was that only the high intensity group gained improvement in anaerobic capacity. The high intensity group actually realized a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity AND a 14% increase in VO2max. So, the study concluded that high intensity intermittent training can improve both the anaerobic and aerobic systems simultaneously. Very impressive results!
I know that after reading the amazing results achieved by Dr. Tabata you’ll be ready to try using his protocol, I sure was! The protocol itself is pretty simple, in theory. Choose an exercise – say sledge hammer swings, for example (since we’re talking about them). Perform the exercise for 20 seconds as fast as possible while still keeping good form. Rest 10 seconds. Complete 8 rounds.
There are several different ways to swing the sledge hammer. I don’t care which way you do it – vertically, diagonally, hands apart, hands together, all are fine. Just make sure that no matter which way you choose, you do not bend your back – we do not train bad habits!
In this particular example, notice the slight turn of the spine where I store energy (SEE) in my lower back. The hammer swing is powered by the release of that energy, not by my arms. Also, notice the knees bend as I squat down to hit the tire and not bend my back. Keep good structure throughout the movement.
Like this exercise? This one and many more sledge hammer, medicine ball, resistance band, and body weight exercises are described in detail along with sample workouts in the Warrior Fitness Guide to Striking Power. Pick up your copy today!!