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Hammering Strength into the Wrists – Part Three

Scott Bird Loves the Deadlift

I have been working with Scott Bird from the Straight To The Bar site for years. Scott and I have been teaming up ever since I put out the Nail Bending eBook.

He’s been giving me a hand since the beginning and has helped me improve my blog and the Diesel site, and has really helped raise awareness of the sport of grip and feats of strength like nail bending and card tearing.

I have also written a dozen or so articles on STTB. My most recent series was on using sledge hammers to strengthen the wrists, which I started earlier this year.

I belted out two quick parts and they got a ton of great feedback.

Ya know, I was thinking about this series a little while ago and I though, it just wasn’t right to have the series up in the air like this. Like a chick who was left alone on the dance floor at the prom, I needed some closure.

So I decided to sit down and put together some more torturous sledge hammer exercises that would kick your ass and give you wrists and forearms that would hold up to nuclear fall-out.

So, first let’s re-cap.

In case you didn’t see it the first time around, in part I of Hammering Strength into the Wrists, we looked at the basics – the Vertical Lever to the Nose, the Horizontal Lever to the Front, and the Hammer Twist. These lifts served as a starting point for our hammer training. It is always important to build a strong foundation when starting out with a new training protocol and these exercises are great for conditioning the wrists to the new stimulus.

Read part one here: Hammering Strength into the Wrists.

16-lb Vertical Lever to the Nose

In part II, we looked at Hand-to-Hand Tossing, Heavy Hammer Swinging, Hammer Chain Twists, and Hammer Rotations. With these movements we found out that Hammer training isn’t for little babies.

You get out of your hammer training what you put into it and if you were adventurous enough to have tried these movements, then your wrists are much stronger now than when you first started reading this series.

And here’s part two: Hammering Strength into the Wrists – Part II

Hammer Chain Twists – The Toughest Sledge Exercise Ever?

While these hammer movements are great, I implemented some more recently while training for Grip Strength Nationals that kicked my ass. Check these out!

Here is, the Horizontal Hammer Hold for Time. This is an endurance lift. If you don’t have a strong base of wrist strength with leverage devices, then I don’t even want you to try this one out, because this isn’t for newbies.


For this lift, set a barbell up in a cage, or some other object that is about rib cage / chest height. Pick the hammer up and extend it out and hold it for time above the barbell or other object.

The idea is to hold the hammer aloft for as long as you can without contacting the bar. It is perfectly okay to use body English on this exercise as long as the hammer remains relatively close to parallel.

The next lift in this series is what I call the Fall Arrest.

hammer vertical hammers3_0001

You will use the same set-up with the bar positioned in the squat cage around rib cage height. Begin with the hammer raised vertically and allow the hammer head to fall toward the barbell.

As the hammer falls, just before the head crashes into the horizontal bar, squeeze the handle as hard as you can and stop the momentum before it hits the bar. This is where the “Fall Arrest” comes in.

When you start out, you may want to practice a slow drop at first, but as time moves on, try to let the hammer drop faster and still be able to stop it before it hits the bar.

Because this exercises requires you to reverse the momentum of the falling hammer head, this may be one of the exercises where you want to back off on the weight and use one of the your sledges that are in the 6 to 8-lb range.

After these two new exercises, if your wrists aren’t lit up, then you just plain aren’t doing them right.

Heavy Hammer Power Casts

Next, it’s time to begin to move towards integrating grip and wrist strength into a full body movement. With this next one, I want you to grab the heaviest hammer you can find.

I’m not talking just some 6- or 8-lb hammer. I’m talking a real HEAVY HAMMER. If you don’t have one then tape some weight on your hammer if you want but this next one needs to be heavy!

With this next one, remember we are working toward integrating grip into a full body movement.

holding a hammer vertical
sledge hammer power cast
stopping the momentum of the hammer

In this case, we will perform Heavy Hammer Casts which will require you to maneuver the hammer with the muscles of your shoulders and torso but you will control the hammer with your grip strength.

Now, I’m not talking about performing endless reps of token casts. What I’m looking for is a powerful execution of strength from your arm, shoulder and torso that generates some serious momentum that gets cut short by your grip strength.

Take your heavy hammer and hold it straight up. From there, perform the cast by pushing it over one shoulder and then pulling it back over the other.

This pull back to the starting position should be performed in a whip-like fashion that creates speed. Pull the hammer back to the starting position quickly in order to challenge your grip strength. The pull should be hitting your lat. Fire the lat and the hammer will fly faster.

Make sure to breathe on this one. It will help you generate power with the hammer and execute control with your grip. If you feel no challenge in controlling the hammer, then either you aren’t doing it right or you need a heavier hammer. Remember, this isn’t just strict casting we’re doing, it’s a dynamic grip movement. So move that thing hard.

Forward Whip and Hold

This is another integration movement that is powered by the torso and shoulders. This time you will start with the hammer between the legs pointing backwards. From there, you will violently whip the hammer forward and hold it out in front of you as long as you can. This is another one that will get your radius muscles and supinators fired up.

Hold it out there!

Alright. The time is come for the finisher. You’ve worked hard up until this point and there comes a time in each workout where it is time to hit the finisher. I’ve never seen anyone try this lift. I think they’ve all been afraid but I am going to share it with you right now.

Double Hammer Mace (DHM) Swings

For this lift, you will need some athletic tape or duct tape or some other type of tape that is strong and is not going to break on you.

Take two hammers and tape them together down near the heads. For me, I used a 20-lb and a 16-lb hammer.

Make sure the handles are lined up well. They are already going to be pretty far apart, so you don’t need to make it any harder on yourself than it already is.

Next, you will start at the home position with the hammers elevated and your elbows bent about 90 degrees. From there, you will begin to swing the DHM much the same way you cast the hammer club earlier. Push over one shoulder and pull over the other.

The same goes for muscle recruitment. This is not a grip isolation exercise. Get the hammer moving. Get momentum going. Remember the Grip involvement has to do with controlling and commanding the implement. Make it go with your big muscles. Make it go where you want it to with your grip.

Here’s the video of the first time I did this and it kicked my ass!

I hope this series has been helpful for you. If you are not training with sledge hammers or with Ryan Pitts’ Stronger Grip leverage equipment, you are making a serious mistake. You are limiting your grip strength, your shoulder mobility and health, and your antagonistic balance between your chest/front delts and your back/rear delts.

It’s time to do the exercises in this series and the exercises in the Diesel Sledge Hammer Conditioning eBook. They are great for anyone, especially those who aren’t getting enough pain and torture in their lives and need to add just a bit more in there.

Enjoy the pain my friends. And enjoy the strength.


P.S.  Joe Hashey and I are about to release a brand new DVD and on-line video on how to make your own bad-ass strength equipment that is high quality and will last you for years.  Check it out here: ===> Home Made Strength Equipment

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6 Responses to “Hammering Strength into the Wrists – Part Three”

  1. Rick Walker Says:

    Great article! I am headed to Lowe’s today to pick up some hammers.

    I have the rafter pinch leverage bar from Stronger Grip. Amazing little piece of equipment!


  2. Jim Smith Says:

    Thanks Rick. What lifts do you like to do with your hammers?

  3. Joe Hashey Says:

    Love the sledge casts.


  4. Rick Walker Says:

    Well, unfortunetly Lowe’s had shit in the way of sledge hammers. They had an 8 pounder, but it had a fiber glass handle and I just couldnt justify $32 on an 8 pound sledge!

    When I can get some, I will do most of levering, side to side, etc. that you have talked about. With the rafter pinch bar I do all kinds of levering, as well as plate wrist curls, and the pinch lever. It is a cool little exercise where you lay the pinch bar on its side, pinch and lift it so it is sticking out perpendicular to your body. It hammers the pinch and the wrists big time!

    I need to get up there and get some training in with you. After surgery and when my shoulder is cleared to lift again we will have to get a weekend.


  5. Jim Smith Says:

    Lowes dropped the ball, man. I have bought my last couple of hammers on-line. Just looked around until I found a good deal. There are a lot of places around that sell hammers. Just gotta pay for the shipping.

    Any time you want to train, just shoot me a note, Rick. Good luck with your surgery.


  6. dixon Says:

    thanks jedd, since around 1 month i trying out ur grip training methods 2days per week.good results i got! now i am confident i can definitly win armwrestling.obviously grip was my weak link. how often i train jedd? daily ?is it better?

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