How to Swing a Sledge Hammer

How to swing a sledge hammerAs a follow-up to my previous post, Farm Boy Strong Shoulders, I thought I’d post this video on Sledge Hammer Swinging technique.

I’ve recently returned to a regular, regimented workout program with equipment I have here at my house.   Lots of free weights, plus some of the stuff you’d find on a farm.   For example:

  • weighted cart – I don’t have a prowler, but I do have a big, heavy duty cart that I can load up with weights (or kids) and push around 🙂
  • thick rope – I just found a thick rope (about 1.5 inch diameter) at a local antique store this week…the price was right and I can’t wait to use it (maybe later today)
  • home made sandbag – simple tool, great results
  • odd object stuff – 100 lb anvil (from my horse shoeing days), water bottles filled with sand, home made kettlebells, etc
  • sledge hammer and tire

Shoulder Strength and More with Sledge Hammer Swings

The Sledge Hammer is a great tool that will work your butt off and create powerful shoulders!!  If you know of anyone who works (makes a living) with a sledge hammer, then you know what kind of results you can expect from regularly swinging a sledgehammer.

So, I went online to see how the fitness world uses a sledge hammer.  Lots of videos … lots of advice … lots of poor technique.  Plus, most are missing a very some very important points.  So, I created a this Sledge Hammer swinging video, demonstrating how I use one during my workouts.  There are 4 stages to the sledge hammer swing… and I think it’s important that you know what they are.

If you don’t want to read my explanation, here’s my sledgehammer swinging video … the explanation is below.  Warning, this is a 9 minute video.

Stage 1 – The Sledge Hammer Swing Setup

A lot of the videos I’ve seen online pay very little attention to how you should “address” the object you want to pound with your sledge hammer.  This is a big mistake!  Everything begins with the setup and here’s what you need to know:

  • Your feet should be “square” to the object you intend to demolish ( in most cases, a tire of some sort )
  • One hand should grasp the bottom of the handle
  • Your other hand should be holding the weighted end of the sledge hammer
  • You should be in a “linebacker” stance

Stage 2 – Loading Your Sledge Hammer

For explanation purposes, we’re going to assume that your left hand is nearest the empty end of the sledge hammer and your right hand is near the “working” end.

  • Lift your left hand to a position nearly directly over your head.  Your left arm should be slightly bent ( 5 – 10 degrees )
  • Move your right hand to a position above your right shoulder as if you were getting ready to toss a ball
  • Your torso should be stretched and tight … slightly twisted and like your are reaching for something above you

Stage 3 – The Explosion

This is where is see a lot of people miss out on the great benefit of using the sledge hammer as a part of your workout.  In the videos I’ve seen, people seem to think this is a semi – aerobic activity.  IT’S NOT !!!  This is a sprint … a series of rhythmic explosions in which you are trying to move something – BY EXTREME FORCE.  I like to tell people to swing the sledge hammer with “bad intentions“.

  • From your loaded position, begin the motion with the forceful hinging of your hips
  • Powerfully contract your torso, lats and shoulders
  • Allow your right had to slide down the handle to a position above your left hand
  • Hit the tire with “all you have”

Stage 4 – The Rebound

At this point, your hammer will bounce slightly.

  • Slide your right hand back up the handle to it’s original “setup” position
  • Return to your “linebacker” position
  • Repeat .. multiple times

When you’ve completed your set, reverse your hands a do the same number of reps from the other side.  If done correctly, you’ll be breathing like a “freight train” and ready to throw your sledge hammer down.  Good job!!  You’ve just completed your first set of sledge hammer swings.

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About Chris Melton

Chris Melton is an entrepreneur, blogger and one of the owners of Joint Mechanix, LLC ... the creators of the Rotater ... a rotator cuff rehab tool used by physical therapists, athletic trainers, athletes and proactive shoulder rehab patients.


  1. Howdy

    Thanks for the instructions on hitting the tire. I do have a question. I am 65, hit the tire 200 times in the morning with a 16# sledge hammer. I just finished when I saw your post.
    I am not really tired after 200 hits, now I am letting the hammer do most of the work it seems. I don’t power the hammer down, does this use less energy? I am working on building muscle mostly and cardio for sure but either I am in better cardio than I think or I am not hitting correctly. One major issue here, I have a bad back and its hurting like heck now, I have only been doing this for 2 weeks. Do you think I am hitting the tire incorrectly?
    My wife says I am not bending over enough and maybe I am using my back more than I should. Also my tire is heavy but its a bit low for me, could I be bending over too far. OR maybe I am too darn old for this………LOL

    I am very puzzled at how out of breath you were, I am overweight, 65 and could push myself to hit the tire up to 225 hits I think. I did get a bit crazy and hit the tire 200 times in the morning, 200 times at noon, and 100 times after dinner. I also flipped it 12 times that day. I was worn out, took a nap and slept like a baby. Problem is I was sore the next day and couldn’t work out at all.
    I do over do myself at times, I am sticking with 200 hits every day and will stop at that.

    Well any feed back you would have will be appreciated, thank you!

    One more thing, I just watched your video, I didn’t read your blog yet. Just glancing at it tells me I may get good information from that. Also I see your heading mentions shoulder re-hab. I have torn rotator cuffs, these hurt like hell now. I just tough them out, scream a bit and let it go. Benching 350 to 400 years ago has its tough moments I guess. Hey next time around I promise to be a nurd, no extremes………LOL Thanks !!

    Big Jim

  2. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your comment. If you’re not “exploding” from the cocked position, then you’re definitely missing out on one of the great full body exercises.

    I really can’t reply as to whether you’re “hitting the tire correctly” without seeing your tire-hitting workout. I would recommend you get an 8# sledgehammer and try to imagine that you are trying to drive the sledgehammer through the tire. Believe me, you’ll feel the difference.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your instruction. I am a martial artist and hope to instrtuct and condition students. I definitely would like to incorporate this into our training.

  4. super … thanks for stopping by.

  5. Mike from Sweden says:

    Hi Chis…
    I hit tires from time to time and by watching ur video i ain´t doing that bad but i picked up a thing or two from your form that i will try when the weather here is better..
    So thank you for your video and have a Merry Christmas

  6. Hi Mike….glad you stopped by. Thanks..let me know how your next tire session goes.


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