Early Lessons from a One Month Shugger - This Works

Take a sledgehammer and wrap an old sweater around it. This is your "shovelglove." Every week day morning, set a timer for 14 minutes. Use the shovelglove to perform shoveling, butter churning, and wood chopping motions until the timer goes off. Stop. Rest on weekends and holidays. Baffled? Intrigued? Charmed? Discuss here.
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Location: United Kingdom

Early Lessons from a One Month Shugger - This Works

Post by Lollingsgrad » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:09 pm


Despite the fact that shugging isn't exactly new these days, it's not exactly a common practice either. Most of the friends I've told about shugging have reacted with "Shovel-what?" or "You're swinging a sledgehammer around your house? Is that a good idea?". Therefore, the more feedback the better.

I figured I'd be waiting a good month before this got easier, and months before I saw any real difference in my physique. This wasn't the case at all. It took about a week for it to stop causing me pain the next day, and in a month my girlfriend had commented unprompted that I was beefier. Is this even possible? It seems pretty unlikely that 14 minutes a day for a month could achieve this. EDIT: Apparently it is possible.

I've a couple of posts quite near the top of this subforum still where I mentioned pain in my elbow and a fear of twisting my back too much. Here are some things I've learnt quickly which might be of interest to someone immediately starting out who also knows nothing about strength training (aka me), or might need correcting by the more experienced:
  • If it doesn't hurt immediately, but it hurts loads the next day, it's probably not injured, it's probably Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (DOMS). The answer is not to let it rest. If you ice it, it will hurt more. The answer is to shug through it. You should find that shugging makes it stop hurting; if it doesn't you might be genuinely injured, so stop.
  • The whole point of this stuff is full body motions, non-artificial strength training. You should twist your back, but it should be in controlled motions. Twist but resist. Go with the momentum of the hammer and use your whole upper body to stop it. Purposely tense your abdominals. Engage your arm and shoulder muscles to prevent the hammer pulling you. If the hammer is controlling your movements or you feel yourself lurching to stop its motion, you may need to hold the hammer closer to the head.
  • Keep everything slightly bent, don't fully extend your elbows especially. If you hold this rule, your muscles will be resisting the motion (=strength training) rather than your joints (=injury).
  • As a tallish (6'1") guy with long arms I didn't need to start with a light hammer. Why? It isn't the mass of the hammer that matters; the weights involved here aren't that big. If you grab that thing right by the head and start shaking it around it isn't going to feel like a lot of hammer. What actually matters here is the moment which you can reduce just by holding it nearer the head. A 7lb hammer you hold half way down the handle is going to have the same moment as a 14lb hammer you hold quarter of the way down the handle. So I saved myself some cash and started with a 14lb hammer. The initial strength gains are really fast and I was holding it further from the head after two weeks. I'm an otherwise sedentary computer programmer so I don't believe it's because I was in any way already strong. However, I will concede that if your arms aren't that long then you may find holding the hammer at the head awkward since the tail of the sledgehammer handle may be crossing your body.
  • Sweaty hands and hickory handles are really bad when you do things like this. If things get slippy you might want to consider gloves or some kind of grip tape. This is actually something I don't do yet but I nearly clonked myself on the head today so I'm going to start.
  • If you live in the UK and you want a stupidly big hammer some day, the phrase to google is "gym hammer". I saw a 33lb one! Probably more a for-fun thing than a for-life thing like shovelglove is supposed to be.
  • This one's not important but might be a fun idea for guys who do martial arts. I used to do taekwondo when I was younger, and I found it pretty fun to work the sledgehammer into the grading movement patterns.
That's all for now, I'll check in again around October. Three month mark seems like a good milestone.

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Post by Sixty » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:20 am

Hi Lollingsgrad,

I enjoyed your post! Congratulations and keep up the training.

I do a mix of Shovelglove or Dynaband each N-day morning, depending on what kind of mood I'm in. I can't even remember how long I've been doing it - one year, two? I had some back pains at the very start, but moving slowly and keeping my abs tensed while training seem to help.

I try to focus more on the 14-minute block of time than on any particular exercise.

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