Clubbell Training For Circular Strength DVD: An Ancient Tool for the Modern Athlete
The first reason you need to see it: safety issues. Coach Sonnon details proper 'parking' and 'pickup' protocol, and proper hold intervals for the extended isometric positions. It becomes apparent that most 'homemade substitutes' for the clubbell (sledgehammers, baseball bats, Weaver sticks, etc) aren't really suitable for many of the exercises and routines Coach Sonnon demonstrates. That doesn't mean you can't try to substitute something else (ie, plastic baseball bat filled with sand) for a Clubbell, but it is obvious that the Clubbell is the 'best fit' for what Coach Sonnon is doing on the video especially for the 8 ultimate combination exercises at the end of the video.
The second reason is to learn how coordinate and focus the breath while using the Clubbells. Pay attention to how Coach Sonnon punctuates the lifts with his breath - it's important to the process because it helps you learn to use the breath to reinforce the body's structures to compensate for the leverage disadvantage. If you don't breathe the proper way demonstrated on the video, your progress will stall out early in your training.
Some of the exercises are obvious and intuitive. Some of them are simple and brutal. All of them are harder than Coach Sonnon makes them look. I almost broke my shin the first time I did clubbell swings to shoulder height for reps, and I'm a fairly coordinated person - I wasn't concentrating hard enough and ended up with a huge welt above my left ankle) That drove home the point that Circular Strength Training is potentially hazardous - it is really easy to clobber yourself (and other people) while training. At least it was my shin and not my head. Though some people claim that there is no difference in my case. Anyway...
You must concentrate to get the hip-snap into the ballistic drills because the Clubbell seems forgiving at first - you think you can get away with using arm and shoulder power for the lifts to compensate for a lack of lower body drive. But the habit of depending on shoulder strength instead of hip snap and leg drive will cost you when you venture into high rep territory.
After a 30-40 minute session of practicing swings, pendulums, cleans-to-order, and 'liberty torch' snatches, my wrists and forearms are always "fried". It is tough but exhilarating and I invariably feel like an initiate into a new order of 'knuckledragging dinosaurs'. Swinging the 15 lb beasts seems to revive some dormant caveman/warrior/baseball player instincts that I hardly ever get to indulge.
One caveat - there are no guidelines in the video regarding sets, reps, or intensity, or for setting up a program. Coach Sonnon emphasizes at several points that you should never train to failure (or sometimes, to stop at the last rep before failure), but that's about it. Supposedly the forthcoming book version of Circular Strength Training will contain more concrete details about creating programs and juggling volume, load, and intensity for best results. You can bet that I'll be ordering the book as soon as it becomes available; I also hope to attend a certification seminar in Circular Strength Training to take the practice to 'the next level.'
This is really interesting stuff. Just like all the other RMAX videos, there are years of progressive lessons and material to master on this tape. Any student of old time physical culture, combat sports, racket sports, or throwing sports owes it to themselves to investigate Circular Strength Training.
My favorite quote from the video: "Clubbells offer no mercy to the aspiring strongman or strongwoman. They also offer no pity to the trainee who uses them incorrectly." Absolutely.