Over 50- Sledgehammer Fitness: Exercise With The SledgeHammer Workout Does The Job
Man of Action :^)
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:
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 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!
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:
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:
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
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:
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.
Make the Shake
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?
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
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!
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.)
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!