Sledgehammer and Steel Mace Slams for the Modern Warrior

Slamming a sledgehammer on a tire was a favorite power development exercise of Archie “The Old Mongoose” Moore a man who won over 130 prize fights by knockout.  Later when he trained Earnie Shavers and George Foremen, two men who would both go on to become heavyweight champions and become renowned for their concussive power, the Old Mongoose still used sledgehammer slams as a way to train the muscles necessary for explosiveness.  Out east, Hindu warriors would  swing heavy maces as a way to prepare themselves for combat with their weapon of choice the gada.  Later Pehlwani wrestlers borrowed this tactic and used heavy mace training as a way to strengthen the muscles necessary for grappling.  Even today sledgehammer and mace training is a common part of the regimen for athletes in a variety of contact sports like mma, football, and hockey.  Even if you never plan on competing in a combat sport, this principle of training is something that all modern warriors can use in their training program to prepare them for whatever challenge life throws their way.

Weighted slams serve as one of the greatest multipurpose GPP exercises around.  GPP (General Physical Preparedness) training addresses muscle imbalances and injury prevention through use of movements with proper stability.  This type of training seeks to prepare individuals with a baseline fitness (in categories like strength, power, work capacity, and mobility) to respond to any challenge.  With weighted slams you can develop muscles throughout your body while improving your conditioning.  A good swing incorporates muscles from your legs, core, and upper body.  The shock effect from slamming a hammer or mace on a tire also serves as a way to strengthen tendons and joints.  One of the unique benefits of sledgehammer/mace slams are that they provide a way to train explosive power in a multi-plane movement, which is an alternative to the single-plane movements where most strength exercises occur.  Training power in a multi-plane fashion prepares you for movements you’ll be expected to do for a variety of athletic activities.  Even if you aren’t an athlete there are major injury preventative benefits to training your body to provide stability across a wider range of motion.

Tires: you can find these at a mechanics shop, junk yard, or if not ask around someone will usually be more than happy to give an old tire away for free.  For taller individuals especially, try getting a wider tire so that you don’t have to reach down so low for slams.

Sledgehammers: there’s fancier versions available online but you can use one from your local hardware store and get great results.

Steel Mace: these are pricier than sledgehammers on average but one of the benefits of using a mace is that the rounded edge makes it safer for your wrists as you don’t run the risk of rolling the head of the mace over like you do with a hammer.

Workouts: There are a variety of ways to use these implements these are two of my favorite methods.


  1. A) Interval slams: perform slams at an all-out pace for a set amount of time, rest, and repeat. You can progress by making the time you perform slams longer, shortening the rest periods, going more rounds, or using a heavier weight.  Start out with intervals lasting 15 seconds and progress from there.


  1. B) Rx Slams: prescribe yourself a number of slams and try to get them done (with good form) as quickly as possible. By the end of this workout your heart will be racing and you’ll feel every muscle working with each slam. You can progress by trying to beat your time, prescribing yourself a higher amount of slams, or using a heavier weight.

Erick Avila
About the Author:

Erick Avila. Erick Avila is a strength & conditioning coach/nutritionist. He works with top-ranked professional boxers and athletes. He specializes in areas ranging from boxing-specific physical preparation and hormone optimization to general weight loss. Erick's training methods have been featured on various prominent fitness magazines and websites.