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Concrete results from a three-hour sledgehammer workout.

A lot of forward-thinking trainers and gym rats these days are turning to the humble sledgehammer for a great whole-body workout. They say slamming a big old tire with an 8-, 10-, 12-, or 16-pound sledge will help you develop some serious core mojo as well as improve your grip and forearm strength. As trainer and combat athlete Ross Enamait puts it, “Sledgehammer training will undoubtedly improve your ability to maintain explosive power, round after round.”

I am not a forward-thinking workout guy, but in this case I can say I’m ahead of the curve. I was swinging sledges 20 years ago and, just last weekend, I spent three productive hours with a 10-pounder and not only got a killer workout but also managed to produce several hundred pounds of landscaping material.

It’s all part of my current series of handyman workouts. In this case, it was me and my sledgehammer doing battle with 68 square feet of concrete slab that needed to be evicted from its longstanding position next to our back door.

One thing that Enamait and his ilk are missing while they whack away at their tractor tires (see video here) is the strategic thinking required when destroying concrete. You need to focus your punishment at the most vulnerable areas of the slab, a requirement that tends to slow things down to a less-than-Tabata-like experience. Also, it helps to have a long-handled spade handy to pry out the rubble beneath the slab as you move along. This works a whole new set of muscles and offers a timely respite between whacks.

The other great thing about my sledgehammer workout is that it actually accomplishes several goals: I got a pretty intense cardio and strength workout and I got that old slab out of the way so I can put in a more aesthetically pleasing set of stones in its place and I created enough free material to build a retaining wall in the front yard. All of which makes My Lovely Wife even happier than usual.

So, if you happen to have any old concrete laying around that you’d like to remove, get down to your local hardware store and get yourself a sledgehammer. You’ll be surprised at how gratifying it can feel to turn those big stones into little ones.

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