Indian clubs are an ancient training tool used for centuries in Persia for training and ceremonies. Clubs have been extensively used by the strongmen of generations past. The shape and construction of clubbells make them one of the most challenging free weight tools. The dimensions are similar to a large baseball bat and the weight is unevenly distributed towards the distal end. Clubbells are currently being popularized by martial arts expert and inventor, Scott Sonnon who runs his own certification program and distributes clubbells. Clubbells regularly range from 5lbs to 80lbs. Do not over-estimate your strength, a pair of 25lb clubbells are heavy enough for an experienced, strong male athlete. The 25lb and 45lb clubs are used in swinging competitions. 5lb clubbells are great for warming up the shoulders and rotator cuff or for therapy for those recovering from shoulder or rotator cuff injuries. Use clubbells with pre-caution and make sure you receive instructions from a specialist because they can be dangerous. Remember with great risk you reap great reward.
Clubbells are great for circular strength training. Most sports (especially, tennis, hockey, golf) require twisting movements that involve flexion and rotation across the three planes of motion. Not only that, most sports require strong and stable shoulder joints and clubbells work the rotator cuff muscles like no other piece of fitness equipment. Additionally, clubbells put great demand on your forearms and grip strength. If you are unsure your grip cannot handle a certain clubbell weight, do not even think about swinging it unless you are in a padded room and wearing a construction worker’s helmet and some steel toed boots. Just like kettlebell training, clubbell training also provides a challenging core workout. Another great benefit of the clubbell is that it is very portable and can be taken along while travelling.
Indian clubs and clubbells are here to stay and not just a novelty fitness item. Challenge yourself and implement them into your training regime. They will help you strengthen weak links and overcome plateaus. You will be sure to find them in more large commercial fitness retailers in the coming years.
Clubbell Lunge and Press
Clubbell lunge presses are a full body exercise that challenge shoulder strength and stability, grip strength, and core strength. They are also a good cardio conditioner. If you are new to clubbells, start light and get comfortable with different exercises before performing combinations. Begin using a lighter club, or choke up on a heavier club. As you are pressing have a tight crushing grip and focus on contracting abs and glutes.
Clubbell Two Hand Rotations
Clubbell rotations are a great exercise for shoulder stability and mobility. Try these with two hands before progressing to one. Keep your core tight throughout this movement.
Clubbell Turkish Get-Ups
Clubbell get-ups take standard kettlebell Turkish get-ups to the next level. They are a challenging whole body exercise. They require more shoulder and grip strength and shoulder and core stability. Only attempt these if you are very comfortable with kettlebell get-ups and have experience training with clubs.
Clubbell handshakes are self-explanatory. Mimic handshake movement while keeping your forearm rested on your thigh. Perform the movement slowly. Exhale as you elevate the club and inhale as you lower it.
Doorknob Rotations for Forearms
Clubbell forearm rotations are a great exercise for racket sport athletes and hockey players among others. Rest your forearm on your thigh. Choke up slightly on a light clubbell and rotate very slowly back and forth so the club head is parallel to the floor.
The clubbell iron cross is an exercise that targets the middle shoulders, forearms and abs. Bring two clubbells overhead with their heads pointing down behind your back. Then bring them out to your sides with arms parallel to the floor. Keep your core/abs engaged. Inhale as you bring them behind your head and exhale as you complete the cross.
Head Cast or Pull-Over
Clubbell double head cast or pull-overs work your upper back/lats, shoulders, rotator cuff, abs, and forearms. Bring both clubbells behind your head with your elbows pointed to the ceiling. Pull them over and in front of you at chest height. You should feel your scapula depressing. Keep your core braced. Exhale as you pull-over and inhale bring the clubs behind you.
This exercise is great for rotator cuff and forearm strength. It is also a mobility exercise that can be performed before a workout. For these you want to use lighter clubs – no heavier than 10-15lbs. Keep the head of the clubbell down. Rotate behind opposite shoulder and finish with the clubbell in front with your elbow tucked in.
Here are some great reference materials for clubbell/Indian club training: