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Sledgercising

A few months back I stumbled across The Slovelglove workout. It seemed like an interesting idea, but I didn't like the name. So I call it "Sledgercising". I had a few notes/thoughts on it, thus, this article.

The idea is that you move around the sledge hammer in interesting ways, such as making shoveling and chopping motions. I have to say it is much more doable and interesting than using normal free weights (which I rarely do). It's not really actively fun or anything, just much less mind-numbingly boring than using weights at the gym.

Doing this is probably not going to make you look like a bodybuilder or a Gladiator. If that's your goal, we probably don't have a lot in common, so enjoy your life and have fun with your protein shakes and dreams of one day owning an expensive shiny car.

This is more about reasonable fitness and modestly better strength. It's about finding a reasonable fitness level and maintaining it. I don't need to "progress" up to "ripped" (or whatever a douche might say), I just want to achieve fitness, also known as "plateau".

My normal daily activities don't include a lot of heavy lifting (except for picking up my daughter), and I can't always get in a long walk/jog before she wakes up (we do walks together, but I have to walk at her 5-year-old short-leg pace), so without some intervention, I'd atrophy to the "weakling" stage.

Does it work? It really did improve my upper body strength: We had a big snow last week and when I went out to shovel our rather steep driveway, and I wasn't winded or sore when I finished it. No sore back or limp arms. That's a change from the last time I shoveled snow. I can also see a bit of a difference in the mirror (sorry, no pics), but I'm not going to look like a shirtless action hero anytime soon.


My sledge is one I bought years ago when we were doing some demolition on our dilapidated fence. It's a light one, just 6 pounds, but so far it's good enough. Some day I might get a 10 pounder, but one good thing is that I can adjust the 6 by simply by moving my hands farther or closer to the weight.

If you imagine the w is my fingers facing up, and the m is my fingers facing down, this:

===w======m===||

is easier than this:

=w=====m======||

because the handle is a lever.

Another thing I can do is either do a motion slow or fast. For example, if I do the "Row boat" slowly, it is affecting a few different muscles than if I do it fast. If I do it slow, I'm mostly resisting gravity (force is straight down). If I do it fast, I'm resisting gravity, but I'm also imparting and resisting momentum in many directions. For many of the activities, I do it slow first and fast later.

To keep it interesting and useful to me, I have a few additions and variations of the "standard" Slovelglove program. Below is my standard set.

I usually do a few of the "Stretching" exercises first, then a alternate between doing a few "Aerobic" and then doing a few "Strength" until my time is up or I feel like stopping.

I've been doing 10 repetitions of each, but recently went to 20. Each one is done "left" and "right".


The motions

Where it's not obvious from the name, I'll add a short description.

"Stretching":

I do these first to see if I have any sore spots (like my troublesome back) and just to loosen up a bit and prepare.

  • Victory stretch

Hold the handle with hands a little more than shoulder-width apart, one hand quite close to the hammerhead. Raise your arms up as "in victory" and stretch forward and back a little. Repeat.

  • Pick up the bar

Hold the handle with hands about shoulder-width apart. Bend at the waist and slightly bend your knees, and try to put it on the floor, then stand back up. Repeat a few times.

  • Waist twist

Hold the handle with hands about shoulder-width apart. With the hammer at navel height, twist semi-slowly left and right. You can also move your torso in a slow circle, like you were trying to use a hoola-hoop with your shoulders, but slowly.


"Aerobic"/full body:

These work much of the body, usually you'll have one foot in front of the other and your whole torso moves. Place your feet in a natural position, and usually you'll have knees slightly bent.

  • Coal shovel

Pretend there's a pile of coal in front of you. Hold your hands somewhat like this:

=m=====w======||

Make a shoveling motion but without too much back-bending.

  • Chop down the tree

Should be obvious: pretend you are swinging an ax at a tree trunk. You can vary this by swinging at waist-level or down to knee-level.

  • Fireman

You're using a fireman's ax to chop through a door. Swing vigorously and stop short just in front of you.

  • Tai chi snow shovel

You're shoveling snow, smoothly. I added the "tai chi" modifier to emphasize not straining my back. As you move forward, bend your back a little and bend your knees a little, then as you rock back, straighten your back and legs. If I don't do the bend/unbend, it makes my back sore.

  • Splitting wood

Obvious. Split wood. Like the fireman but you follow through all the way down to where the piece of wood would be.

  • Left and right hook (punch)

Hold the handle with hands about shoulder-width apart at shoulder height.

====m=======m=||

Punch with the hammerhead hand quickly with a curving motion at your imaginary opponent's chin or chest (slightly up or slightly down). Rotate your upper body a bit.

  • Upper cut (punch)

Hold the handle with hands about shoulder-width apart.

====w=======m=||

The hammerhead hand low and the other high. Swing the hammerhead hand up at the bottom of your imaginary opponent's chin.

  • Jab (punch)

This is trickier. Hold the handle with only one hand right next to the hammerhead, at shoulder height. It should feel balanced.

============m=||

Jab straight at your imaginary opponent's chin.


"Strength"/upper body:

  • Butter churn

Churn that butter!

  • Noisy neighbors

Like the butter churn, but higher. Those pesky neighbors in the apartment above you are having a party. Bang on the ceiling (not really).

  • Row boat

You're in a rowboat. Row. Make sure to lift the paddle out of the water!.

==w=====m=====||

  • Reverse row boat

You're in a rowboat. Row backward. Make sure to lift the paddle out of the water!.

  • Gondolier

Now you're in Venice. Put one hand on the end of the handle, the other mid way.

E=======m=====||

Push that gondola. Make sure to lift it up on the return.

  • Reverse gondolier

Same thing, but backwards.

  • Paint the wall

You have a long-handled roller. Paint the wall in front of you. You can go straight up and down, or make a slight V pattern.

  • Arm curl
  • Backward arm curl
  • You can count on my steel!

I got this name from Army of Darkness. One swordsman volunteers to help by saying "You can count on my steel!" and raising his arm like the Statue of Liberty. So I hold the hammer with one hand near the hammerhead, and repeatedly do that. (Saying it is optional.)

  • Stoke the furnace

You're raking the coals in a large furnace.

==m=====w=====||

  • Railroad pump car

Hold it like a barbell and do an old-timey pump-car motion.


The "aerobic" ones are the most fun, the punches especially.

That's it!

2013-02-26
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