Is clubbell training the real deal and is it better then normal weight training etc?
I agree with nowaydo with the slight modification in my own statement to say that it is possible to utilize Clubbells to develop your GPP and continue to use them for any sports-specific training you might need.
For many people who initially try the Clubbells, they can seem quite frustrating because their grip strength is nowhere near being able to keep up with the rest of their body's conditioning (an example would be someone who can knock out 50 bodyweight squats but can't perform 50 Swings because their hands give out).
Just like any other strength attribute, grip strength must be developed slowly so that injuries don't occur. Once your hands can withstand the rigors of the basic Clubbell exercises, it's unbelievable what you can put the rest of your body through.
Since I've returned from Scott's CST seminar last month, I've started ALL of my clients with Clubbells. 99% of them start with basic Swings, and slowly work up to the Rocket Drill. For a few of them, the Rocket Drill is more than enough and they like it that way. The rest of them, however, are slowly progressing to more sophisticated and challenging movements and a few of them are asking about the Olympic Clubbell Sport competition later this year (amazingly, the ones asking about the OCS are all females!).
So....to answer your question in a quick manner: YES, Clubbell training is the "real deal". Like Nowaydo said; don't think of it as better or worse than conventional weight training. I'd suggest looking more into the reasoning behind CST and seeing if that is something that aligns with your own ideas and goals about fitness.
Hope that helps. Feel free to keep asking questions here or drop me an email: email@example.com
I made Clubbell(R) simulators and just started using them. I am really like the movements. I didn't notice any grip issues, but done quite a bit of grip work previous to there use. I tend to use higher reps with them than barbells or dumbells.
Leemar: I might try making some of those simulators. The clubbells look like a good workout, but the actual product is far too expensive for me right now. Thanks for the idea!
Can anyone point me in the direction of some sites with workouts and equipment?
Get on the forum at:
The movements found in meels/Indian Club training have been proven effective for centuries. Like any form of training, leverage lifting will provide as much benefit as what you put in. Here are some sites of interest regarding movements & history:
The main turnoff I find with the Clubbells is the costs for progressive training. For example, if you were to start off with a 15 lbs Clubbell, your making a purchase of $100+, double for a pair. That's not so bad in & of itself because it will presumably last forever.
Yet since this is a fixed weight, once you've mastered zero choke on all movements & are ready to move on, what do you do next? The answer is, you must spend another $100+ on the next increment. If your buying in pairs, then it's a DOUBLING of your investment with each progression. Imagine doing that with dumbbells or barbells, it's just untenable for the average person.
Thankfully there are products available that are modeled as new versions of Indian Clubs, which allow for progression in training after your initial investment. Over the long haul, you'd probably find these to give you all the benefits of leverage lifting, while at the same time being much more cost effective. Here are the links:
The movements found in meels/Indian Club training have been proven effective for centuries. Like any form of training, leverage lifting will provide as much benefit as what you put in.You are correct. The main turnoff I find with the Clubbells is the costs for progressive training. For example, if you were to start off with a 15 lbs Clubbell, your making a purchase of $100+, double for a pair. That's not so bad in & of itself because it will presumably last forever. Yet since this is a fixed weight, once you've mastered zero choke on all movements & are ready to move on, what do you do next? The answer is, you must spend another $100+ on the next increment. If your buying in pairs, then it's a DOUBLING of your investment with each progression. Imagine doing that with dumbbells or barbells, it's just untenable for the average person.This is where many people misunderstand CST and how to implement Clubbell training. While the Clubbell is a "fixed weight", the length of the handle allows your hand to be various distances from the Center of Mass on the Clubbell. So, while the weight is technically the "same", the intensity that your nervous system is feeling can be infinitely adjusted by a few different ways: 1) Obviously moving your hand further down the handle will make the exercise more intense. But what if, as McCandayass states, you master the basic movements with a Zero Choke grip? Then you move on to option 2:2) Sophisticate your training methods. Too often, we learn a new exercise and as we get in better shape we simply add more reps, more volume, more intensity, more duration, etc. By linking several exercises together into one chain, learning more explosive movements, learning the new CATCH system Scott's coaches are coming up with, or implementing my High Intensity Interval Training ideas combining bodyweight drills and Clubbells, you can use the same Clubbell and continue to improve your strength, endurance, and coordination. The limit here is your imagination. Believe me, I went to the Delta Cadre CST a few weeks back and felt that I could throw the 15's around fairly easily. HAHAHA! Man, was I in for a serious ego check! Keep training hard, SCRAPPER
I've purchased Sonnon's Clubbell book and video, along with 15-lb. clubbells. After practicing & training for several weeks, I have found that clubbell training seems to benefit clubbell training--and not much else.
Granted, I have not had professional instruction. Also, I must state that I have a lot of respect for Scott Sonnon and Scrapper. However, my problems with clubbells stem from the following reasons:
1. The 3-dimensional nature of the movements makes them more difficult to perform; however, with a only a few training sessions, the nervous system adapts very quickly. I believe that neural adaptation is perhaps the main constituent and benefit of the clubbell exercises. During my time training with clubbells, my grappling & striking didn't really improve, and my overall strength declined somewhat. My cardio seems to have stayed about the same. I did get better at the clubbell movements, though.
2. How is clubbell training in any way sport-specific? I can see certain movements that may help in defending submission attempts (i.e., keylocks, etc.) However, I don't believe that clubbell training could be considered any more sport-specific than any other type of training. Sonnon didn't really cover this advertised aspect in the book or video.
3. After a couple training sessions, I subsequently found it exceedingly difficult to get a good anaerobic workout that taxed anything but my wrists and elbow tendons. Maybe a heavier clubbell would have helped, but I just don't think the body responds to perceived load (due to disadvantageous leverage) in the same manner as true mechanical load.
Perhaps with better-supervised training, I will see the benefits of clubbells. However, as of right now I fail to realize exactly what clubbells will do to improve one's game, unless one's game happens to be clubbell training.
I'm curious as to what kinds of movements you were doing
and what kind of training routine you were using. You say
that you trained for a couple of weeks; I would suggest that
isn't enough time to gain the benefits from Clubbell training.
Suppose that you had never done any OL's before, and you
bought a video with the idea of learning the C&J. After a few
weeks you would be able to do the movement, but you
wouldn't have been able to exploit the potential of that lift to
increase your performance in your sport.
But anyway, here are some thoughts about your specific
1. "however, with a only a few training sessions, the nervous
system adapts very quickly"
This is true, but what this enables you to do is to use that
particular movement in any number of programs to increase
whatever attributes you are working on. Consider the
Clubbell snatch, for example. While learning the movement
maybe you do 5x5, and then maybe 5x8, and then maybe
5x10. After grooving the movement neurologically, you can
take the snatch and use it in a density routine (200 reps total
with decreasing rest times), or a H2H routine (3 min rounds
with 1 min rest, increasing the number of rounds from 3-9).
These are just two examples.
2. "How is clubbell training in any way sport-specific?"
It seems very sport specific to me. Just a few examples: for
martial arts, you can train explosive hip snap with the Clean
and Snatch, explosive pressing with the Jerk, level changes
with the lung and death march, over-the-shoulder ripping
strength with armpit casts and Swipes, clinch endurance with
the Warrior-be-strong. For other sports the benefits seem
very obvious to me. Any throwing or racquet sport will benefit
from Mills, Pendulums, Circles and Armpit casts. You can't
really train those movements with dumbbells or barbells.
3. "After a couple training sessions, I subsequently found it
exceedingly difficult to get a good anaerobic workout that
taxed anything but my wrists and elbow tendons"
Wow, maybe you are naturally very strong, but I can kick my
butt with 15's. Iron crosses, head casts, side leverage
presses, leverage or torch squats, single leg squats with
clubbells held in order....the list goes on and on. However,
having said that I find that the best Clubbell workouts are
strength-endurance, or anaerobic-endurance. This involves
doing high reps with short rest periods, over multiple sets.
One example would be say, 15x15 Swipes in 15 minutes. As
Scrapper said, you can also mix it up with pull-ups, push-ups,
burpees, hindu squats. The possibilities are endless.
ifidieidie, I trained for about 6 weeks with my clubbells using many of the exercises you mentioned (mills, casts, swipes, pendulums, snatches, torch presses, hammer throw). I mainly trained fairly high-volume (i.e., 10+ sets) with low reps (between 5 to 10, depending on the exercise) and usually less than 30 seconds rest between sets.
Granted, it takes a LOT longer than six weeks to learn O-lifts, but going that route is an end unto itself. I didn't really want to specialize with clubbells to the point that my grappling & kickboxing skills began to suffer; I wanted to use the clubbells for their purported purpose--to ENHANCE my other training. Also, if there is such a steep learning curve involved in using clubbells, I believe there should be a very clear & obvious reason to use them in training (for purposes other than becoming very proficient with clubbells). Personally, I see no clear & obvious reasons. Maybe I need to stop grappling and spend more time with the clubbells to improve my grappling?
In all seriousness, I can see your point with regard to #1 on my list.
As for #2, if I played raquet sports, I could definitely see how the SPP fits in. However, as to the hip snap, clean, snatch, and especially level changes, I don't see a whole lot of value in clubbells relative to barbells & dumbbells. For example, I found that after doing clubbell lunges for six weeks, my actual level change when shooting-in was SLOWER. Maybe it had to do with the more complicated balance and synchronization involved...I'm not sure. All I know is that it definitely didn't help. I never had this problem when doing lunges & similar exercises with dumbbells/barbells.
I tend to agree with you regarding #3. Maybe clubbells are more tailored for strength-endurance or mixed-type workouts.
Thanks for the feedback.
Polishfighter: Did you use the Clubbell Forum at all? If you had, you would have gotten excellent advice on how to implement Clubbell training into your current training in a more efficient manner. I don't know what else you were doing but you missed out on using an excellent, and FREE, resource. Your body only understands force acting against the muscles, not what the implement causing the force is called (Clubbell, Kettlebell, Dumbbell, Barbell, bodyweight, etc). I'm curious as to how you gauged your loss of shoot-speed and what else you were doing. It has also been my experience in grappling that you will not simply POWER your way out of an armbar, whether it's the classic straight arm submission or the Kimura. Defense against those techniques rarely calls for trying to use your bicep to curl more than your opponent is pulling, do they? I'll answer that and say "NO". Your succesfull defense will depend on your ability to manuever the limb around the pivot point in a way that won't compromise joint integrity (face it, it doesn't matter if you can contort your arm into crazy shapes if your muscles can't handle it under pressure). Clubbells weren't designed to give you 600lb tricep extension strength so that you could simply push yourself out of armbar attempts and I've rolled with enough bodybuilders and powerlifters to know that that stuff has little effect against someone that knows how to manipulate a joint's weakness. Utlized correctly, Clubbells can help you find the gaps in your joint integrity and help you close them. Keep training hard, SCRAP
Thanks for the reply. I did browse the clubbell forum quite regularly for a while, but didn't make any posts with questions because I thought Sonnon's material was fairly straightforward and I didn't feel I was having any problems at the time.
After getting some negative feedback from training parteners, I reviewed tapes of a few grappling sessions--both before and after I had begun clubbell training. It was fairly clear to me and those with whom I was training that I just wasn't getting in on the shots as quickly. However, I know that a dozen different factors could be involved. It just so happens that one of the main ingredients in the mix was my new training with clubbells.
I wasn't hoping clubbells would give me a 600-lb. tricep extension. I believe I have reasonable expectations with regard to my training. In fact, I have used your BW conditioning tapes as a core element of my training, along with crossfit, for over two years now. I may have been a musclehead once, but that was long, long ago.
I do think what you say makes sense with regard to training your muscles to maneuver without compromising joint integrity. However, how exactly do you personally gauge your increased strength/joint integrity?
The first thing I'd suggest is to take a closer look at EVERYTHING you were doing at that time with regards to training. If you've read Scott's articles, you know that he advocates STIMULATING the muscles involved in a specific activity but not SIMULATING that activity with weights or added resistance. This is so that the nervous system isn't competing against two neurological patterns for the same movement (which will more than likely result in a loss of "performance").
What I did when I was working with Egan was to have him perform variations of the Rocket Drill and other rapid "Level Change" exercises and go immediately into shoots with a partner (and this was simply shoots and nothing else...as he got better I started adding things in with the shooting). I combined these two "movements" and after a few weeks he told me that he was hitting harder and the snap in his hips was definitely sharper.
Check out my articles: All or Nothing and Bring it On for some more ideas on what I had him doing (they're on the CST magazine but if you can't find them I'll post the links when I get home from work tonite).
As far as a personal gauge for joint-strength/integrity...I think it's kind of a tough call. Is the reason a person gets armbarred a lack of strength, inflexibility, lack of skill, etc? In this month's issue of CST, Scott has an article dealing with armbars and utlizing specific Clubbell exercises in a precise manner to help seal any gaps you might have.
Glad to hear you've gone from Musclehead to Knuckledragger! Keep training hard and keep me posted on any fights you have coming up. Taku and I are going to be shooting our Intervals video at the end of May and we're talking about sponsoring fighters/schools with training vids. ;)
Hope that helps!
"Seriously, I think clubbells would be a useful accessory to traditional weight training, but to me they are just like kettlebells-- only less versatile."
The versatility of the Clubbell has yet to be determined since new ways of using the Clubbell are being created EVERYDAY!
"Really, what can you do with these things that you cannot with a BB or DBs? You can do cleans, clean+jerks, turkish getups, side presses, etc. with a dumbell. Front squats, cleans, snatches, clean+jerks, etc. can be done with a BB."
Although the names are familiar the technique is vastly different.
A Clean with a Clubbell is not the same as a clean with a dumbell, kettelbell,or even the kitchen table.
Those exercises that you described are exercises that are well known that you could in theory, do with alot of other weights as well.
Then there are exercises in Circular Strength Training that you will get no where else such as Pendulms, Leverage holds, Casts, and Swings. Exercises that are uniquely suited for the Clubbell. Try to get those same benefits with the BB, DB, and KB. Just make sure you have made out a will and have a good health insurance plan.
"And the weights you can use are extremely limited"
There are no limitations with any weights, only the limitations percieved by those who lift them.
CST Head Coach
This has turned into a great thread thanks to the informative
posts and good discussion.
What nowaydo said about the "aliveness" of Clubbells is
really what I have experienced as one of the biggest benefits
from Clubbell training. In fact, several of my grappling
partners have commented that I lately I feel stronger (I
haven't told them that I had changed my training to include
CST). Of course, this isn't an objective measurement of any
kind, but combined with the fact that I feel stronger myself, it
"Too often, we learn a new exercise and as we get in better shape we simply add more reps, more volume, more intensity, more duration, etc. By linking several exercises together into one chain, learning more explosive movements, learning the new CATCH system Scott's coaches are coming up with, or implementing my High Intensity Interval Training ideas combining bodyweight drills and Clubbells, you can use the same Clubbell and continue to improve your strength, endurance, and coordination.
The limit here is your imagination."
Agreed Scrapper. Obviously adding calisthenics or other drills & activities into your Clubbell workout will increase the challenge. The same can be said for using that strategy with a multitude of other activities using a fixed weight.
What isn't an option with Clubbells however is the convenience of increasing the challenge of leverage lifting through adding additional weight. Unlike dumbbells, barbells, weight machines & even bodyweight exercises (using a chest vest, weighted belts, etc.) the fixed weight by necessity places limitations on the options of use.
I just want people interested in leverage lifting to know that they have other options, which won't require additional costs to train progressively with heavier lifts.
BTW, out of curiosity how many who have posted on this thread have an affiliation/certification of some sort with Scott Sonnon? Not that there's anything wrong with that....I'm just curious.