By Donny Shankle
I first learned about Indian clubs while training at the Willpower Weightlifting Club located in Pontypool, Wales. Since then I have daily included using Indian clubs in my training. The exercises I am able to do with the clubs act as a sort of prehabilitation I do before moving into Snatching, Cleaning, and Jerking. If I do not have access to a pair of Indian clubs, I perform some of the simpler exercises you can do with the clubs by looping my gym towel through a two and a half kilo plate. The range of motion you are able to achieve with the clubs also makes them a great tool to rehabilitate the shoulder.
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. It is capable of moving in a much wider range of motion when compared to other joints. The strength and flexibility of a weightlifter’s shoulders should not be limited to pushing, pulling, and Jerking. Shoulder rotation is also very important and the Indian clubs allow you to gently train a three hundred and sixty degree rotation. Any weightlifter who has missed a Snatch behind can tell you the importance of having fit shoulders which healthily rotate and are flexible. Swinging a pair of light Indian clubs is the way I rehabilitated my shoulder back to strength after a dislocation. For a while I stayed away from raising my arm overhead (as the doctor ordered) in fear of accidentally dislocating my shoulder again. Once I felt comfortable doing the lifts again, I also fortunately learned a few exercises with Indian clubs which I find beneficial for weightlifters.
To start, swing one club at a time. There are variations which allow you to use two clubs but as a prehab and rehab tool swinging one club at a time is sufficient.
Swing the club forwards and backwards. - Keeping your arm straight, bring the club up to eye level and then back down. Let the momentum stretch the front of your shoulder as the club swings past your hips.
Swing the club from side to side. - Keeping your arm straight, bring the club up to ear level and then back down. Let the momentum stretch the side of your shoulder as it swings past your knees.
Curl the club up and let it fall behind your shoulder. - Start with the club at your side. Curl the club up past your ear and gently let it fall behind your shoulder. Feel the muscles in your back stretch as you point your elbow to the ceiling.
Swing the club 360 degrees. - Start with the club at your side. Slowly start to swing the club up and down until you are ready to move into a complete rotation of the shoulder. Bring the club up to eye level, continue to bring it up over your head and then let the shoulder finish its rotation by moving behind you until it is back at your side. Keep the momentum going and move right into your next repetition until you are finished.
Doing these exercises everyday will keep your shoulders healthy. Using Indian clubs are fun and shoulder rotation should always be included as a part of your warm-up. Once you have learned these basic Indian club exercises go ahead and try learning the more advanced level exercises. I find these exercises force you to think and improve your gracefulness and neuromuscular coordination. Be careful not to hit yourself in the head.