Strength and Mobility Benefits of Training With Indian Clubs

Indian Club training is an ancient technique that can improve an athlete's range of motion and grip strength.

Club swinging can be used to shore up holes in your training program and improve total body health. Club swinging was a part of strength and conditioning routines of ancient wrestlers throughout the Middle East. British soldiers later adopted the exercise, modified the clubs to make them smaller and lighter, and renamed them Indian Clubs. From there, Indian clubs used for mobility and coordination became a staple in the workout routines of military personnel, strongmen and physical culture enthusiasts for years before they fell out of popularity.

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Here are some reasons why you should give them a try to make your training program more well rounded.

Range of Motion

Indian clubs can be beneficial for increasing mobility, especially for the shoulders. Poor posture and shoulder tightness are common problems in both sedentary and active individuals for a variety of reasons: long hours spent driving or slouching in front of a computer; poor technique during pressing movements; repetitive movements caused by sports specialization (especially common for pitchers and quarterbacks); and ill-designed training programs (way more bench days than pull days). Indian clubs can alleviate these problems by allowing you to work your shoulder muscles in different ranges of motion than commonly would be achieved with typical strength exercises. They strengthen the muscles and increase their flexibility, resulting in larger range of motion.

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No one wants to be a clumsy oaf. Coordination is beneficial for all aspects of our daily lives. And if you want to excel at any sport, you need good technique, which results from deliberate practice of specifically coordinated movements. It's nearly impossible to throw a perfect spiral if you aren't a coordinated individual. Indian club training requires the ability to stabilize your shoulders, spine and hips as you perform fluid movements, all of which transfer to improved coordination.

Grip Strength

Poor grip strength can be a significant factor in preventing athletes from moving heavier weights in the gym. For baseball and hockey players, poor grip can sap power from their swings. The uneven weight distribution and torque created whe swinging Indian clubs develops impressive grip strength and powerful forearms.

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Other Considerations

Light club swinging (2 to 5 pounds) can be used as an excellent warm-up or cool down. You can swing the clubs in many ways, but I've found externally and internally rotating circles to be among the simplest and most effective ways to get the benefits. A good amount of time to aim for initially is 30 seconds of slow controlled intervals; but ultimately, individual endurance and degree of shoulder tightness will vary this number.

Sample Warm-Up/Cool Down Mobility Coordination Routine

  • One-Hand External Rotation Circles - 30 seconds (each hand)
  • Two-Hand Alternating Backstrokes - 30 seconds
  • One-Hand Internal Rotation Circles - 30 seconds (each hand)

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