I love pushing myself to the limit...
And I love hitting things really hard...
To train these two qualities at the same time, you need equipment that SCALES UP with you as you build strength and power.
And that's where the Epic Sledgehammer comes in.
What Is The Epic Sledgehammer?
Well, it's a really, really, really big hammer...literally that's what it is.
And I'll be straight up honest with you...if you're not already experienced with sledgehammer training, this piece of equipment is well beyond what you need at this point.
I would recommend starting with a sledge you get a hardware store (10-15 lbs) and progress up from there.
If you ARE ready for some serious hammer work, you've come to the right place. Because the Epic Sledgehammer, to me, is the pinnacle of hammers. This thing is a beast.
I've used a few of them in my time (including it's cousin, the Monster Sledgehammer...which is also excellent), but this one takes EVERYTHING about sledgehammer training to the MAX...and that's what I'm all about.
The biggest benefit of this hammer is that it's fully loadable...
...which means it's completely scalable in terms of how heavy you want to make the hammer.
The empty hammer weighs about 28 lbs, which is pretty reasonable...and you can fill it with anything you like, whether it's steel, coins or (what I'm using because it's the heaviest thing available) lead shot.
Now, not only is the HEAD of the hammer loadable (which is where the main capacity is)...the HANDLE of the hammer is loadable as well. Just unscrew the nut on the top of the hammer and fill it up from there.
Oh, and did I mention it's a FAT handle?
Fat grip training works your grip like CRAZY, especially as you progress to heavier and heavier weights.
At the time I was shooting the video for this review, the hammer weighed about 75 lbs...it'll max out at 100 pounds (which I'll show in a video below).
The loading process is very simple. Just use an Allen wrench to unscrew the bolts.
Pop the plate off and pour in whatever you're loading it with.
As I mentioned above, I'm using lead shot because it's the heaviest thing available. I just picked up 25 lb bags of this at an outdoor sporting good store, though there are cheaper "recycled" sources for this stuff as well.
(Side note, I didn't use it in the video, but it's a good idea to use a funnel for loading little round pellets into this...they get everywhere if they spill out).
Now we get to the fun part...hitting.
I've got the half tire set up on my driveway. For me, I have to do sledgehammer training outside...my basement ceiling isn't high enough to swing without hitting rafters.
You can get a half tire with the Epic as a package deal...highly recommended if you don't have something to hit already. It's much easier than trying to figure something out yourself.
I've got a couple of old rugs on the ground under the tire so that when I hit the tire it doesn't scuff the sealcoating on the driveway.
Grab your hammer with your swinging hand down right against the head of the hammer. This gives you your best leverage for getting the hammer head overhead for the downswing.
When you're using a light hammer, it's not as critical...however, when you start getting into 30, 40, 50+ lbs, it IS critical.
Now, this may be a bit ironic, but when you're using a heavy hammer, the upswing phase is actually the part that hits the core the hardest...you have to pull with one hand and push with the other in a rotational movement.
There is still good core involvement on the downswing and the hit itself...however, when you're using a really heavy hammer, it take a LOT of core power to get that thing up overhead and into position to bring down...at which point gravity really contributes substantially.
The other big benefit of a very heavy hammer is that EVERY major muscle group in your body has to contribute to the movement, making it a total-body exercise....back, chest, shoulders, legs. Because when the hammer is heavy enough, it will take literally EVERYTHING you've got to get the hammer up to make the swing.
Your hand should stay on the hammer up near the head of the hammer until the moment you start the downswing.
This is where you'll see one of the other really cool features of this hammer in action...a smooth handle.
This may sound odd, but you actually DON'T want a rough handle all the way to the top. You want the grip to be best near the END of the handle (which is where the Epic has it).
Because as you start the downswing, your hand has to SLIDE down the handle. If you've got a rough surface, it hampers the slide.
Now here comes the BOOM....
You can see in the picture below the amount of IMPACT this hammer generates when it's loaded heavy. It flattens the tire almost all the way to the ground.
Even though gravity is helping a lot with the downswing, you still want to engage the lats and the core to accelerate the hammer into the tire.
This is the fun part...
Now you need to prepare for the next swing.
This should be a smooth movement. Let the hammer head bounce up off the tire. As it comes back up, slide your hand back up the handle near the head. Then use the continuing momentum of the head after the bounce to bring it up for the next upswing (much easier to see in the video, so be sure and watch it).
Once you get good at hammer training, you can switch sides on the fly (this is tricky to do, so master the swing on each side before you attempt it...being honest, I make it look easy in the video, but it's not, especially with a heavy hammer).
I recommend doing a number of hits with one side (e.g. 5, 10, whatever), then set the hammer down, regrip it then do an equal number of hits with the other. Then, on the next set, just start with the other side.
When you're done swinging this heavy hammer, you will be GASSED.
I currently use this hammer for 5-20 sets of 10 hits (5 on each side). Then I'll use my lighter Monster hammer (which weighs about 40 lbs) for a non-stop set of 50-150 hits, depending on how I feel.
This is cardio you actually WANT to do. It's killer stuff and this Epic Sledgehammer makes it an incredible challenge, too.
Here's a video of what it looks like to swing the hammer loaded to 100 pounds...it takes pretty much everything you've got in your whole body to get it into swinging position.
What's So Good About Sledgehammer Training?
Well, honestly, it's really fun to bash things.
This is a great training tool for combat athletes...MMA, boxing, wrestling, etc. It'll teach you how to throw around weight.
If you're an athlete with a sport that requires a strong back as well as strong grip and forearms, such as baseball, hockey, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, tennis, or golf (among others) you're going to LOVE this piece of equipment.
Sledgehammer training is also extremely beneficial for the core. Each swing you take engages the deep muscles of the core to bring the hammer up AND down and, when you make contact with the tire, to stabilize the torso after impact.
Sledgehammer training is extremely good training, not only for the core, forearms and back, but for your cardiovascular system as well. It is FAR more interesting than jogging on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike.
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