T Nation

Medicine Ball Throws vs Hammer Swings


I'm currently putting a circuit training routine together for judo and was wondering which exercise to include out of medicine ball throws or sledge hammer swings ?

Eventually i'll probably include both but only have the funds for one right now, At the moment I'm thinking medicine ball as it would be more versatile in what it could be used for plus it can be used both indoors and outdoors.

With the hammer swings whilst I think it could give more carry over I would also have to get an old tyre, I could only really doing outside and it wouldn't be quite as versatile.

But before making my decision it would be great to hear other peoples thoughts.


I don't think anyone can give an informed answer until you describe your current dwelling. Example: If you live in a second or third floor apartment, you certainly cannot slam a medicine ball or swing a sledge hammer. Having a basement,carport, or garage changes the whole equation. IMHO, if feasible, I will take swings over a ball any day.


Good point my mistake I have a house with a back garden so I would have to do the hammer swings outside which only becomes a problem when the weather changes and as I live In the UK the weather is bad more often than not.


what else is going to go into your judo circuit? What do you want to improve with the hammer? Grip strength and wrist power? Or just kind of general conditioning?

How do you use the hammer swings in training? I've seen people just kinda bang away. I've also seen dudes hold one hand at the bottom of the handle, and one hand at the top. Then kinda "push" with the top hand, almost trying to simulate a punch.

Grip guys sometimes lever those things, holding them at arms length, then using wrist strength to lower the hammer to your nose or whatever. Almost nobody messes with that stuff anymore.

Personally, swinging the hammer feels like the drop under portion of the snatch. If you want to swing hard, you've got to drop and pull your hips down faster than gravity.


Not a judo guy so, fwiw:

I would prefer the sledge and tire if I could only do one. Just learn to hit well with the sledge, if you haven't already. Quality, co-ordinated, accurate hits with maximum force production trump lots of sloppy, frantic, "intense" reps, IMO.

Furthermore, I would think a sandbag may be more use than either as it most closely approximates a clothed body, which is of course what one throws around in judo. Very versatile tool. Cleans, slams, throws, get ups, whatever.

Medium (say 30 or so inches) canvas duffle filled with maybe 40-50# rubber mulch and you're good to go. Some kind of inner bag (even the package the mulch came in wrapped with duct tape) will help manage the mess. If the size of the bag relative to that of the filling makes it too floppy, stuff it with some old blankets, rags etc to bulk/tighten it up a bit.

Lastly, your aversion to training outside in foul weather concerns me. If it's not raining, it's not training.

That is all.


Basically the circuit consists of

Push up to Pull UP 30 seconds
DB Thruster 30 seconds
Uchi Komi ( turn in's )30 seconds
Squat thrusts 30 seconds
Decline Push ups 30 seconds
Stair jumps 30 seconds
Sit ups 30 seconds
This is where I would put medicine ball throws/ hammer swings as a finisher

1 minute rest and repeat etc

This would represent a 4 minute fight the idea is to build up fight stamina and strength, with hammer swings I would swing the hammer overhead and down on to the tyre alternating sides using the whole body which is a very similar movement to seoinage ( shoulder throw ). If using a medicine ball I would get one with handles and just do the same movement basically although with a medicine ball I'm sure I could come up with a few more variations.

@ Batman730 I like the sandbag idea that could work well.


The hammer would be cool for your circuit, because you could repeatedly swing it. You'd have to stop to go get the medicine ball before you can throw it again.

The sandbag sounds good, just because you have to pick it up. Grabbing something, scooping it, and driving your hips up and under it is like the fundamental "move."


I've just been looking at sandbag exercises and must admit that looks like a great workout tool that's very practical.


"How do you use the hammer swings in training? I've seen people just kinda bang away. I've also seen dudes hold one hand at the bottom of the handle, and one hand at the top. Then kinda "push" with the top hand, almost trying to simulate a punch"

Well, I will try to explain but it will probably be clear as mud:)

I have only been using the hammer here for about 6 weeks. The Air Force guys have an outside CrossFit area and they have been gracious enough to allow me to use it. They have 6 used HumVee tires and about a dozen 10 pound sledges. I use the hammer primarily as a conditioning finisher, however, I try to gear the training toward improving fighting balance and coordination. Imagine a boxer in a conventional stance, left leg/ foot forward. I start out the swing imagining an overhead right to a shorter fighter, turning my hips and right shoulder down into a 45 degree angle swing, do this 3 times, and then switch to a southpaw stance and do 3 swings for one minute rounds, anymore time I tend to get sloppy.Yes, you are correct, I do drop my hips, but, (I drop my hips on all my punches but the jab) WARNING: A swing to a 45 degree angle, like using a cutting stroke with a sword, has a tendency to "skip", so, be careful you don't tear a rotor cuff or actually lose the hammer (seen this happen) and it go flying through the air and brain someone. I only use a "direct down" swing for conditioning, but another WARNING: This swing has a tendency to bounce up really bad, so, maintain control or suffer a bruised shin or swollen knee. I really like the hammer, especially after working the heavy bag or military presses, it seems to really loosen up my creaky shoulders. However, its not a toy and I have seen some really stupid injuries with guys/gals fucking around with the hammer. I hope that is somewhat clear:)


Also, I forgot to say that I agree with the others about the sandbag, especially for training in judo , since you will be lifting and throwing weight. The good thing about sandbags is you can "lift and drive" with them and teach yourself power/balance while moving a body.


Good info Idaho, thanks.
I can picture the overhead swing, and the partial "rotation" that I think you are talking about.

I hope you don't have to sword-fight anybody.

To nobody In particular-
In one of Martin Rooney's books, he shows some judo guys exercising with long, stretchy bands. Not looped bands, almost like long stretchy ropes. The bands are anchored low, and in front of the judo guy, and he's holding on to the ends tightly. Then he does "judo moves," basically, like a hip-toss kinda move. Step through, turn the hips, and kinda imagine popping the hips and dumping somebody. In wrestling we called this a head and arm. The bands provide resistance, and keep you from falling over. I've seen dudes on TV use the battling ropes the same way.

What sort of stuff do you do to prepare you Grip/hands for judo? In my head I can picture putting a gi top around your sandbag and getting all kinds of work in.


FlatsFarmer the bands your referring to are used for uchi komi ( turn ins ) doing judo in its self works the grip quite well but when extra work is required I hang a gi jacket from my pull up bar and do timed holds.


nothing will work your grip like judo itself.

hmm Ive gotten alot of mileage out of a med ball

A hammer requires two things- the sledge and a thing to hit.
a med ball one less thing but you might need to do a shit load more
med ball work then hitting a log or tire with a hammer.

Im not just thinking slams- passes etc- but using the med ball
sit ups - pushups - assisted stretching leg lifts- hugging it
hold a med ball in a head lock for a few minutes and youll develope some good squeeze

while slams would be my favorite- but you have to pair them with something.
pullups - hand stand pushup etc

that being said I do enjoy hitting shit with a sledge quite a bit.
Using a pick axe or Adze is even better.

Judo + Manual work has given me a solid grip well into my mid 40's
so if you get in enough hours on the mat grip will eventually take care of it self.
big hands help here, as do big wrists and big forearms.
yes some of that is genetics - but allot of it is from work/hours/reps

big note on grip - when your conditioning is weak your grip will fatigue much much faster
they are tied together

as for working with bands - its a partnerless way to get some rhythm down.

as for rotational development-
hammer swings feel like they help
Ive tried a ton of different ways to develop rotational power in the weight room
Its not easy- lots of throwers ( discus hammer ) work on that too - twisting doesnt help

plain jane stuff really works here.

I found heavy ass cleans
cleans pulls snatch pulls off blocks really good
DB snatches
all to really work

some surprising shit that worked way way more then I thought

reverse lunges ( barbell front squat rack)
OH squat
trap bar carries/farmers carrys
or suit case carry ( one arm)
air hump glute bridge

a massive amount of 'core' ab and low back work
hanging leg raises
BB roll outs
back raises

and some secret grip Pchain blowout

continous snatch width dead or RDL or dimmel style deads for sets of 20 or 30
will blow up your grip and pchain.


There is some good info in there. Thanks.

It's cool you mention the connection between conditioning and grip.

Also, grip strength and max strength are related. The Golgi tendon reflex makes it hard to lift stuff that feels heavy in your hands. Being tired makes your grip weak. So, being tired causes a weak grip. Weak grip makes your body inhibit itself, making you even weaker, and more tired.