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Best Sledgehammer Workouts for Building Strength

Best Sledgehammer Workouts for Building Strength

There’s an endless array of workout options and equipment available today. But one of the most effective ones requires just a sledgehammer and an old tire. Sledgehammer training is an awesome way to build strength and muscle, and lose fat at the same time. 

The following gives you the gist of it along with some great exercises that you can do: 

sledge hammer workouts, sledgehammer training

An Introduction to Sledgehammer Workouts

Sledgehammer training is when you use a sledgehammer to strike an object such as a tire to work out your body. It is one of the oldest forms of training used by athletes all over the world and is recommended for people of all ages and levels of fitness. 

Why Work with a Sledgehammer and Tire?

A sledgehammer workout builds up functional strength and endurance and can be an escape for those who are tired of training in the gym. Do it correctly and incorporate the right exercises and it can be used to work out many muscles in your body. 

sledgehammer workouts and tire flipping workoouts

Best Sledgehammer & Tire Workouts

If you want to do a sledgehammer workout, you should start slow as with any other type of training. There are some beginner workouts that you can do which can allow your body to figure out what it’s getting into. Then, you can move onto more advanced workouts. 

Beginner Sledgehammer Workout

The classic sledgehammer swing workout or slams should build a solid foundation and enhance wrist stability. You grip the sledgehammer and do the following: 

  • Bring it up with your right hand sliding toward the hammer’s head – sliding it is not necessary though

  • Swing it down as hard as possible, bringing your right hand to the left one

  • Repeat using the other side of the body

This was the overhead version and there’s also the lateral version of the exercise in which you:

  • Push the tire up into a vertical position

  • Swing at the sidewall like a baseball with one side 

  • Switch sides and repeat

Be sure to protect yourself against the rebound in both exercises. The sets and reps depend upon what you can handle but 3 sets of 10 on each side should be more than enough to get the job done. And yes, you can start with either side, i.e. the right side has been chosen here. 

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The Sledgehammer: Standing Side Slams vs Kneeling Side Slams vs Overhead Slams 

When it comes to swings, there are some differences that most people just see as preferences, but they do have different effects. The basic version is to do side slams in which you stand perpendicularly in front of the tire and bring the hammer to your side. 

The kneeling side slams are a bit more advanced and they work your torso more than the other two exercises here. Your coordination – instead of your power – is put to the test here due to the absence of the power of the hips.

The overhead version is more dangerous as it requires extra control and confidence. You face the tire head on and bring the hammer directly behind your head. This exercise works well but you have to protect your head and spine from the hammer.  

Other Variations of Sledgehammer Swinging

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been lifting for, it is likely that you’ll have some sort of issues with the form during sledgehammer training. Thankfully, there are some hammer exercises that can correct any problems faced in your sledge-hammer workouts or challenge you even further. 

Single arm slams are recommended for those having troubles with the mechanics of sledgehammer training. This is because they take the focus off your arms to the back and lower body, fix imbalances, and improve grip strength

Double arm slams are even more difficult as they require even more input from the upper body and extra grip strength for swinging. Doing these also means that you need to be more careful so that you don’t drop the hammers. 


Once you get used to swinging the hammer you can spice things up. After completing a whole set of sledgehammer swings on each side, you can incorporate some higher-intensity exercises like kettlebell swings and push-ups. Then you rest for a minute or two and repeat the sequence. 

Advanced Sledgehammer Workout 

The more advanced workouts fall into the realm of HIIT. While choosing such a workout, you should aim for a full body workout that is very intense and fast-paced to burn a lot of calories. Similarly, it should increase your explosive and practical strength. 

One of the workouts recommended is the one from Muscle and Fitness. It is not rep-based, rather it is based on exercise duration. Each exercise must be done for 30 seconds (except for the braced squat which is to be done for 2 minutes), and the rest period is 45 seconds.  

You do the following: 

  • Sledgehammer swings – switch sides after every rep 

  • Tire flips – With your shoulders dug into it, extend with your lower body to drive the tire upwards; when it’s vertical, push it like you’re bench pressing it onto its side 

  • Lateral sledgehammer swings – switch sides half-way through the timer

  • Braced sledgehammer squat – hold the sledgehammer parallel to the ground and squat; flip it half-way to prevent any imbalances

  • Tire jumps – jump onto the tire while swinging your arms to increase power and descend into a squat, then step down

The Benefits of Sledgehammer Exercises

Sledgehammer workouts have a range of benefits to them which is why they’re still a thing. One of them is that they look very cool and unconventional. You get the feeling that you’re a blue-collared worker making an honest living with laborious hard work. 

But the physical benefits are the real deal here as they include explosive and rotational strength, muscular endurance and conditioning, and improved coordination. This is a complex movement that’s also very versatile and can be done in various ways. 

You build up a lot of strength in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments that can be used in your daily life. The workouts also allow you to take out your aggression (if there’s any) on the tire, making constructive use of it to enhance your physique. 

Why Sledgehammer Workouts Work

The reason why hammer workouts are so effective is because of the large number of muscles involved. These include the back, shoulders, traps, arms and core muscles. As a result, you can gain strength and reasonable muscle growth. But that’s not it though. 

Sledgehammer workouts require high intensity and so they’re a great form of cardio if you’re tired of cycling or running on treadmills. Due to this, you can expect to burn a lot of calories and lose weight along with building full body strength. 

Selecting a Sledgehammer for Your Workouts (Tribewod Sledgehammer)

When choosing a sledgehammer, there are two main factors that are important. The first one is the weight as it should just be heavy enough to provide you with effective strength training. If it’s really heavy, it can ruin your form. The second important attribute is the length of the handle. 

Too long of a handle can make swings different to control. But if you go too short, it’ll require a lot more power as the leverage will be reduced significantly. Other than that, the grip and quality of the hammer should also be solid. 

The Tribewod sledgehammer is one of the best, offered with a range of weights in the 25-35 pound range. You won’t even have to buy a new model when you get used to it as it can be upgraded with a plate to a higher weight. The length of the handle is also ideal at 37 inches. 

Known as Odin, the looks and quality of this sledgehammer are astounding. You get a thick vulcanized rubber head that bounces and feels just right when you slam it. If it’s too heavy for you, you can opt for the smaller Thor hammer which can also be used as a kettlebell. 

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Finding a Tire for Sledgehammer Training

To find a tire, you can head over to your local tire shop to grab a tire. To get a used one, you can try platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or even check out your local junkyard. Look for tractor tires or mud tires for SUVs as they’ll be large and resistant enough. 

Sledgehammer Exercises for Everyone

There are various types of sledgehammer exercises that can be done by people of all ages and strengths. There are different types of slams/swings that can be done from side to side, from the overhead position, or from the kneeling position. It all depends on the size and weight of the sledgehammer, as it should be suitable for those performing the training. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does swinging a sledgehammer build muscle?

Yes, swinging a sledgehammer works all the key areas of muscular development. Experts recommend starting training and eating right to gain muscle. 

What muscles get worked in sledgehammer workouts?

Sledgehammer training targets several muscle groups and ligaments which includes the ones on your back, shoulders, arms (also the forearms), and the core. Your grip is also improved. 

What weight sledgehammer should be used for exercise?

The weight of the hammer should be enough to challenge you but it shouldn’t ruin your form. 

Is hitting the ground with a sledgehammer a good workout?

Yes, it is. Slamming a sledgehammer works and builds muscles along with the enhancement of your grip. You also increase explosive power, burn body fat, and enhance coordination. 

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