My weekend workout: sledgehammer

While doing some demolition work in his new home, Scott Schratwieser, a Tier 3+ trainer and group fitness instructor at Equinox Woodbury in New York, got an idea. He realized he could design a workout that would provide similar benefits as the signature ViPR class he teaches, Fully Loaded, by using the very sledgehammer he was holding. “I’m always looking for something different—any way to get the same or better benefits from an unconventional style of fitness,” says Schratwieser. And slamming a sledgehammer on top of a tire is anything but conventional. “The thing I like most is that it incorporates loaded movement, which improves your balance, agility, and dynamic strength all at the same time,” he says.

The exercises in the following routine in particular have you working through all three planes of motion and are designed to build power, shoulder mobility, core stability, total-body strength, and overall conditioning, he adds.

Play around with how you approach this workout in order to keep things interesting (and your body guessing/working). Here are a few different options:

1. Pick one or two exercises and work them into your normal routine each week.

2. Perform the moves as a pyramid circuit, moving from one exercise to the next without rest. Start with one rep of each exercise, build your way up to 10 reps of each exercise, and then work your way back down to one, taking a 30- to 60-second rest between each set/pyramid (i.e., do 1 rep of each exercise, take a 30-second rest, then do 2 reps of each exercise and take a 35-second rest, etc.).

3. Do them as an AMRAP (as many reps as possible): Set the clock for 5 minutes, perform 5 reps of each exercise, moving from one to the next without rest, and do as many rounds as possible before the time runs out. Take a 2-minute rest and repeat. Do 2 or 3 sets total. Try to beat the number of reps you hit each week.

*Note: This workout requires a good base of core and shoulder stability. Perform at your own risk. Before you attempt these moves, you should be able to execute a controlled overhead press and a controlled medicine ball slam. Start with a light sledgehammer (anywhere from 6 to 10 pounds) and work your way up. You can also perform each of these exercises using a ViPR. (Watch Schratwieser show off his ViPR skills here.)