Sledgehammer Swings

A superb conditioning tool, the sledgehammer swing builds work capacity, core strength and the grip.

Primary Muscle Abdominals
Secondary Muscle(s) Shoulders, Forearms, Back, Calves
Difficulty Beginner
Also known as Sledgehammer Swinging
Optional Tire, Sledgehammer

How to do Sledgehammer Swings

You will need a sledgehammer and tire for this exercise. 

  1. Stand in front of the tire with a staggered stance, whilst gripping the sledgehammer
  2. Raise the sledgehammer up above the body
  3. Powerfully swing the sledge down to the tire as hard as you can
  4. As the hammer is lowering your upper hand should slide down to meet the lower hand 
  5. Repeat for reps (ensure both sides of the body are trained by switching sides)
  • Your dominant hand should be higher up the shaft of the sledgehammer, while non-dominant hand is gripping at the base
  • Never sacrifice form or control of the hammer and control the impact at all times. 
  • Maintain a controlled yet fast and intense pace (don't be tempted by the heaviest sledge in the store)
  • Tip: If you'd like to use your tire indoors but want to save your floor then place the tire on top of an old cushion or thick blanket to absorb the impact and prevent friction

Sledgehammer Swings Guide

The sledgehammer is an excellent conditioning tool that is particularly popular with athletes training for combat sports but is now commonly seen in many garage-style gyms because of the effectiveness of the training. 

The benefits of sledgehammer training include;

  • Improvements in work capacity
  • Core strength development
  • Forearm and grip strength
  • Building explosive speed and power

Sledgehammer Workout

Here are some suggestions on how you could incorporate sledgehammer training into your workouts;

Tabata Intervals with Sledgehammer

The Tabata protocol involves 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 4 minutes (8 rounds in total).

When using Tabata Intervals for sledgehammer swings make sure that you switch leading sides between intervals to balance the training. 

Sledgehammer Swings for Reps

Pick a total number of sledgehammer swing reps (e.g. 100 swings) and time how long it takes yourself to finish the set as quickly as possible. 

Aim to reduce the amount of time it takes to hit the reps between each workout. 

Sledgehammer Swings for Rounds

Simply set your round length (e.g. 3 minunte rounds) and continuously swing the sledge for the duration of your round for as many reps as possible. 

An example workout may be 4 x 2 minute rounds (with 1 min rest between rounds). You can also count how many reps you achieve in the round time and try and beat it next workout. 

Sledgehammer Swing Variations

When it comes to sledgehammer training it pays to keep things simple and aim for maximum intensity, speed and power. However, there are two main variations to the swing to consider;

  • Diagonal swings are described in the instructions above and involve a staggered body stance, swinging across the body to strike the tire. One hand is at the base of the handle and the other positioned at the top. 
  • Vertical swings are a slightly different approach which sees both hands remaining stationary at the bottom of the sledge handle.


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.