I'm a fan of the phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
A lot of modern fitness and dieting trends are mostly just a rehash of what's already been practiced in the past. Sometimes it's better to take a step back and see what our ancestors used to do. Many ancient training techniques have survived the test of time for good reason.
Indian clubs have been around for thousands of years, originating in what is modern day Iran. They have been used by soldiers, nobility, farmers, and police to improve shoulder mobility and build upper body strength. They were brought to the US in the 1850s by a German immigrant and have continued to gain popularity since then. Indian club gymnastics actually used to be an Olympic event in the early 20th century and was a common training tool for baseball players at the time.
Indian clubs dropped off in popularity as barbell, dumbbell, and machine training completely took over but have seen a sort of revival in recent times. Since the reintroduction of kettlebell and steel mace training, athletes have begun turning their eye back to the Indian club.
So why is this ancient style of training good for?
1. Trunk stability
Many Indian club exercises require trunk stability over multiple planes and are excellent at conditioning muscles associated with rotation and anti-rotation of the core. Considering that trunk imbalances are a huge issue with many of us, exercises like this could be extremely beneficial to posture and balance.
2. Grip Strength
Some club exercises are faster than others and involve swinging them around a bunch. There are also slower paced exercises that will be extremely challenging on your forearms and grip. You won't develop a vice grip like you will with heavier weights, but you will certainly notice an improvement.
3. Shoulder Mobility
Indian clubs allow you to do shoulder exercises that take full advantage of the entire range of motion of your shoulders, unlike most other pieces of gym equipment. The improvement in shoulder flexibility is absolutely invaluable to athletes of all types, including professional desk-jockiers.
4. Upper Body Conditioning
Training with Indian clubs will be sure to give you a very strong and stable upper body as it works the living crap out of many small stabilizers muscles that are simply impossible to hit with a barbell. Working with Indian clubs in supersets or complexes will be sure to exhaust you and build solid strength.
As you'll see in the video below, a lot of club exercises require a lot of dexterity and focus in order to do them right.
6. Injury Prevention
Training with clubs is a great way to "prehab", or prevent injury in the shoulders. The level of strengthening and mobility you gain in your upper body from training will make your upper trunk much more solid and resistant to injury.
I have been loving my time training with Indian clubs and have begun implementing them not only into my daily routine, but the routines of my clients as well. These are definitely going to be a permanent part of my training program from now on.
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