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Over 50- Sledgehammer Fitness: Exercise With The SledgeHammer Workout Does The Job

Man of Action :^)

Me, the tire, and the hammer

Me, the tire, and the hammer

After 10 years, I gave up

This is #1 of a 2-part article. To see part 2, and get "the rest of the story", click below:

Fitness Over 50 - My Sledgehammer Workout Routine

I've been pretty consistent at fitness for about 10 years. But in the last year, working out just hasn't been... working out. I got discouraged and quit. And gained weight. Got flabby. Out of breath. I seriously don't like myself this way. Kept putting off trying to take action, because the more I tried and failed, the worse it felt. Finally, I just gave up.

Sledgehammers at Amazon

The Wrong Personal Trainer

Last Christmas, Monique got me a gift membership to a gym, because it came with a personal trainer. Didn't work out - my trainer had good suggestions piecemeal, but couldn't help me with an overall plan. And he wasn't really interested in looking at my workout logs to see where I was doing things wrong... or right. To be fair, it wasn't his job. He was on the floor to ride herd on a bunch of people all at once. More of a 'safety monitor' than a one-on-one personal trainer.

The Hammer

This was the 10-pound hammer; I really like the design.  Much better than the wooden handles I used as a teen!

This was the 10-pound hammer; I really like the design. Much better than the wooden handles I used as a teen!

The Right Inspiration

It turned out for the best.  I can't depend on anyone else to make me fit. 
So I junked all the complicated, convoluted workouts that had evolved in the last 9 years.  Ran across mention of working out with sledgehammers.  Seemed like a good idea.  Just beat on a tire till I'm done.  Simple, at least!

The Tire

Just any old tire - I picked this one because it was wider than most.

Just any old tire - I picked this one because it was wider than most.

A Sledgehammer and A Tire

My initial sledgehammer came from Sears.  An 8 pound head, with a high-impact yellow plastic handle.  About 2 months in, I moved up to a 10-pound hammer from Home Depot.  The tire was a cast-off from a used tire business.  I explained what I wanted.  They didn't laugh.  As a matter of fact, the guy climbed up a heap of tires to get this tire, and didn't charge me anything.  He asked me to let him know how it went.

The Before Shots:

I really hate this...But unless you know where I started, you can't appreciate how far I've come!

I really hate this...But unless you know where I started, you can't appreciate how far I've come!

The Before Picture- Totally Humiliating

For one of the most embarrassing and humiliating times in my life, Monique took 'before' pictures.  She even made me stand sideways so you can't miss that extra luggage.  My goal was to lose weight and tone up.  Stay strong and injury-proof.  When I started, I weighed slightly over 190, with 38% body fat.  Yes, that's obese. 

The After Shots:

Yes... I'd say it works!

Yes... I'd say it works!

Cut to the Chase - Does it Work?

Cutting straight to the results:
How did it work? Pretty well. After 3 months, I lost 15 pounds, 12% body fat, and have gained some definition of muscle, especially in my shoulders. There's no bulking-up of muscle like a body builder, but my strength has improved a lot, and my endurance even more.  I feel like I've gained functional strength.

A Hybrid Workout Yields Hybrid Results

The workout has been injury-free, a welcome change from weightlifting.  (I keep getting too ambitious when I weightlift.)  Is it a full-body workout?  Is it aerobic?  Yes to both, but since it's not entirely one nor the other, the results are mixed as well.  Had I focused more on building muscle, I would have bulked up more.  (Assuming previous injuries didn't sideline me again.)  Had I focused more on aerobics, I would have lost more weight, and built more endurance. 

Sledgehammer - Truly a Full-Body Workout

One thing I've been very pleased about; the sledgehammer is excellent at working every muscle.  As my strength improved, I tried to add movements that worked the whole body in many different ways. 

Being a hybrid workout, the results are some muscle, some weight loss, some endurance.  Now that my 3-month test is over, I have some definite ideas for continued exercise.  The 10-pound sledgehammer seemed like a good idea at the time, but now 12 seems better.  I also want to shorten the overall workout, and include some bicycling or treadmill time for the aerobics.

For Extra Credit

For a little variety, I'll carry the pair of 4-pounders up and down the stairs while I run.  Or toss and catch them.

For a little variety, I'll carry the pair of 4-pounders up and down the stairs while I run. Or toss and catch them.

Changing it Up

Those changes should allow me to build more muscle with the heavier, shorter sledgehammer workouts, and keep the weight off easier with a more concentrated aerobic effort.

I was going to put everything in one hub, but it got to be too long. So the actual workout I used is HERE. It's broken into video clips of each exercise with the sledgehammer, and descriptive text. If you want to do my exact workout, it's all explained.

To see my workout by the end of this trial, and videos showing how to do each exercise, click here:

Fitness Over 50 - My Sledgehammer Workout Routine

There are plenty of ways to work out with a sledgehammer. A quick web search or youtube search will turn up plenty. Mine started just hitting the tire. As my strength improved, I started adding some variety. Partially to keep it interesting and prevent boredom. But also to keep the workout balanced and use as many muscles as possible from different directions and angles. If you don't like my workout, pick another, or make up one. Either way, it burns calories and builds strength to move that hammer.

Items of interest:

When I started, I could only swing the hammer for 3 minutes.  That was it.  The entire workout...  By the end of 3 months, I could maintain a pretty good pace for an hour at a time.  (Yes, I do stop to catch my breath as needed!) 

You wouldn't expect the legs to work too much, but the following day it would always be my legs that hurt the most.  And during the workouts, my legs were often more tired than arms or shoulders!

About the weight loss - I now weigh exactly the same as 6 years ago when Monique and I met.  But, back then my body fat was 13%, and now it's 26%.  So the weight is a bit misleading.  I was fitter then.

It was easier to lose weight at first.  The last 5 pounds have been a constant back and forth struggle.

This was only a three month program.  If I continue (and I will) I can only continue to improve.  I'd like to continue to lose weight. 

I turn 50 in less than two weeks.  This was my "Happy Birthday to Me" gift to myself.  I'll never look like Superman... but I'll be happy to look like a very fit Clark Kent.  Less concerned about muscle, than overall fitness and health.

Scroll to Continue

Make the Shake

Raw ingredients for my shake.

Raw ingredients for my shake.

The Food:

Using the sledgehammer definitely improved my fitness, and at first, it also helped me lose weight.  Weight loss became much more difficult after those first few pounds.  I had to change my eating habits to keep losing.  Here's my normal eating pattern now:
Breakfast - 1/2 cup oatmeal with half banana, or some blueberries.
Lunch - Home-made protein shake.
Supper - Just about any normal meal, but I've cut my calories/servings a lot.

Some days I'm good, some days I'm not.  But overall, I'm very slowly losing weight.  I count that as a sure sign it's working right.

One A Day?

Yes, Supplements help!

Yes, Supplements help!

The Supplements:

I do take vitamins and some supplements. Specifically, I take Vitamin E to reduce DOMS (Vitamin E, Muscle Soreness, and Exercise Over 50)

In the last couple of years, my body doesn't recover after a workout as well as it used to. So recently L-Carnitine and Manganese have been added to my daily supplements. Not sure yet if they're really helping. After my first month on, I'll go without for another month to confirm if it really makes a difference.
I have some sleep apnea, and a bit of trouble taking a good breath. The fitter I am, the less this bothers me. But recently I began taking Magnesium before bed. It definitely has helped my breathing, with the added bonus that I tend to sleep better.

Wearing a cast... again

Me and the busted knee

Me and the busted knee

The Previous Injuries:

Over time, everybody develops a 'grocery list' of injuries and problems.  My concerns were:
Right foot - broken multiple times and places.
Left Knee - snapped backwards playing frisbee.  (Google it- frisbee is a high-injury sport :^)
A dislocated rib that occasionally pops out and has to be repaired.
A torn muscle in the right arm that re-tears easily.

Most exercise routines (especially weights) either limit what I can do, or I wind up getting carried away and re-damaging these problem areas.  With the sledgehammer, I started off with 8 pounds, then moved to 10 pounds.  After 3 months, it's time to move to 12.  That's not a lot of weight, but the long handle of the hammer changes the effort required to move it.  As a result, I get an injury-free workout that still manages to challenge me.  Actually ever since starting, my problem areas are stronger, more flexible, and less trouble than they've ever been!
Speaking of injury-free... I mean the exercises themselves do not aggravate any previous problems.  If you drop a sledgehammer on your foot, that's another story.  I did manage to drop a 4-pound hammer that bounced up, hit my knee, and left a huge bruise for a week or two.

Moral here - be careful, plan your moves, and pay attention. 

I Feel Good!

And No backtalk from the tire!

And No backtalk from the tire!

Summing Up - Does a Sledgehammer Workout Work?

I kept a log in order to track progress (or lack) as time passes. It's a good idea, no matter what your goals are.

Be safety conscious. If you hit yourself with it, it's going to do some damage. If you can't be careful, it may not be a good choice for you! I am not responsible if you clobber yourself with a sledgehammer... that's YOUR choice! (okay, that was my nod to legal disclaimers.)

Final thoughts:
I like exercising with a sledgehammer. It's different, it feels good (talk about anger management!) and it works. It's going to be a permanent tool in my quest to stay fit. Do I recommend it? Absolutely!


Minakshi on June 01, 2015:

How amazing to see the direfcenfe in the facility in less than 1 month! Not only the facility saw changes though. This past week we showed 3 women who had never attended Zumba just how fun it could be to work out. And we had a client who had never been on a pole doing a fireman spin by the end of the week.Seeing people get stronger and more confident. Or finding a joy for movement that they didn't know they had. Having FUN together! That's why we do what we do! -Carrie

Crewman6 (author) on July 12, 2012:

You're welcome, and thanks so much for the well-wishes!

silvrbak105 on July 12, 2012:

Thx for the feedback i will try this out and see how it does for me. How You get well soon.

Crewman6 (author) on July 10, 2012:

Slvrbak105, when I'm in it, it's about 30 minutes a day. For kettlebell work, I usually just substitute equivalent exercises and do them indoors. No ab work with this routine. Recently some health issues have affected my workouts, but I'm trying to build it back up again.

The only other thing I like to do in addition to the sledgehammer is run up and down stairs. I can't wait to get my full strength again, Monique says when I was doing sledgehammer work, my back was really cut.

Thanks for reading!

slvrbak105 on July 10, 2012:

Good workout, do you do this workout everyday, everyother day or what? Also do you know a good way to add kettlebells into the mix? 1 more question did you do any ab specific xercise or just the sledge?

Crewman6 (author) on June 16, 2012:

Kjrzeek1, thank you, I appreciate the support! You're right, it's easy to give up. I go through cycles, but try hard to keep working. The hammer has been my favorite workout ever, which makes it easier to continue.

kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on June 15, 2012:

Nice hub. Good for you for staying in shape after 50. So many people let themselves go and wonder why they have to be on medication to feel good. Exercise is my medication. Love the hammer and tire.

Crewman6 (author) on March 02, 2011:

Hello again, Dr Matt! Thanks for the follow-up. You raise excellent points, and I love the idea of carrying a sledge around in the car with me! I'm not in good enough shape to consider it as easy as a golf club :^)

But I do strive to age well and maintain my health, and I like your suggestions. I sometimes blog on health and exercise as we age, and have included your recommendations in my latest one. (With proper credit to you, of course!)

Thank you so much for your thoughts, and for the excellent ideas!

drmbowen on March 02, 2011:

Crewman: Thanks for a gracious response. Your yard should be no barrier, because another great benefit of the sledge is it travels anywhere :-) Toss it in the seat next to you and go explore places to swing (and muggers and punks will surely leave you alone at night). Not me on you tube, but I did publish an article on the sledge in Iron Mind way back. FYI check out the site I sent him the same perspective on the sledge workout and he also humbly agreed. I just never did understand this whole truck tire bit other than that I suppose it makes swinging a 12 pound sledge as easy as a golf club :-) M

Crewman6 (author) on February 14, 2011:

Dr Matt - Thanks for the suggestions; I'll have to bow to your age AND experience! I've seen someone on Youtube (maybe you?) using the sledgehammer that way. I've got a postage-stamp yard, though, and nowhere that won't do damage. The tire keeps me from busting our deck :^)

I miss growing up in the country. Not only was there more space, but chores kept me plenty fit all by themselves!

matthew Bowen on February 13, 2011:

TYPO: "...wrestle the hammer out of the (w)hole..." Dr Matt

matthew Bowen on February 13, 2011:

I'm 54 and have been swinging 22 / 16 /12 pound sledge(s) for over 30 years. Banging on a tire, where you only go down to knee level with the hammer head and get all that bounce back up, you're losing 50% of the benefit you get from the hammer workout. Lose the tire and swing into the ground. The effort required to wrestle the hammer out of the whole and lift all that much more lower distance will be a real wake-up call, and I promise you you'll be back down to an 8 pounder pronto. A lot of it's technique. I can swing the 22 pounder into the ground for 25 reps and I'm older than you and am only 6'0 175. Dr Matt

Crewman6 (author) on October 19, 2010:

Thanks, Aardvark! At my age, it's a constant struggle. Especially since I like to eat more than I should!!

aardvark 8083 on October 18, 2010:

What I liked was the before and after pictures , you look fit not fake.

Crewman6 (author) on June 29, 2010:

Thank you for your comment. I'll look you up on YouSayToo also. Thanks very much!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 28, 2010:

I found new tips from you. I never think about this before. But you have tried it and it works. Unbelievable, I hope I can follow your tips. I have admit to you, this hub was useful for us and become inspiration for us. Thumbs up for you. To appreciate your work, I rate this Up.

Note: I have add you as my friend on Yousaytoo. You may want to confirm me.


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