Two Exercises to Boost Your Heart Rate, Spare Your Joints, and Have Fun while doing them, too.


One of the reasons SAPT clients love coming in to train at our facility is they get to do things they normally wouldn't in a commercial gym. I mean, how many times do you walk in your local gym and see sleds being pushed/pulled, medicine balls flying around, and people crawling around on the floor as they imitate various creatures from the animal kingdom?  

Not to mention, the training they receive provides a nice "break" from the monotonous routines many people find themselves in day after day. After someone has been sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours straight, the LAST thing we're going to do is have them sit on a bunch of machines and ask them to mindlessly perform 3 sets of 10 on the chest press, leg extension, ab machine**, etc.

While it's clearly important to learn how to execute a proper squat, lunge, or hinge pattern, we also enjoy tossing in quite a few exercises that provide someone with a desired training effect (cardiovascular system development, increased strength, fat loss, etc.), and are just plain fun!

While I could discuss a host of various exercises we use to accomplish this, I'd like to share two for the time being:

  • Sledge Swings
  • Med Ball "Cyclone" Slams

In the first video, you'll see Doug giving the tire a piece of his mind with the sledgehammer:

And now we have Kieran performing the Cyclone Slam:

I'm a fan of both these exercises in particular for a few reasons:

1. They're a "low impact" method of improving your cardiovascular system.

Running, jumping rope, and many other common forms of "cardio" can be extremely taxing to the joints, especially when performed at high volumes. While you may be able to get away with it initially (or while you're young), you'll quickly begin to pay the price of including liberal amounts of high impact cardiovascular work.


Sledge swings and cyclone slams (or most med ball work in general) provide a fantastic outlet through which you can quickly elevate your heart rate, while at the same time sparing your joints and connective tissues. This can come in handy as a cross-training tool for endurance athletes, or for someone whose joints need a break.

2. They develop core power and strength.

Who doesn't want a stronger core? Whether your a combat athlete, a baseball player, or someone who only cares about looking better, these drills provide a solid training effect for the core. Including some more "power" oriented movements such as swings and med ball slams will provide a different stimulus to your torso than traditional core training will. Specifically, your trunk will have to undergo extension (eccentrically), and transmit force in all three planes of motion (frontal, sagittal, and transverse).

3. The sledge swings will enhance grip, forearm, and wrist strength.

Assuming your hitting a giant tire with the sledgehammer, you'll improve your wrist stability (due to the rebounding nature of the tire), on top of developing muscles all throughout your hands and forearms.

4. They're a sneaky way of incorporating some thoracic mobility into a program.

When performed correctly, your thoracic spine will undergo both extension and rotation (this is a good thing) during each repetition of these drills. Considering many of us have lost significant t-spine mobility (from slouching too much, perhaps like you're doing now as you read this), it's important to incorporate exercises that promote mobilization of the thoracic spine.

5. Everyone needs to take out a little aggression from time to time, don't they?

No need to elaborate here.

Anyway, I encourage you to remember that training should ALWAYS be fun (at least in some sense of the word), and I hope these exercises presented allow you to think a bit more outside the box when it comes to exercise. Training doesn't have to entail hopping on the treadmill for 45 minutes and mindlessly pounding away, step after step, all while watching the T.V. in order to make the minutes pass by more quickly.

**Please, for the love, don't ever subject yourself to one of these machines. You'd be better served jumping into a lion's den.