This Core and Upper-Body Workout Has a Surprising Piece of Equipment You’re Probably Not Using

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Steel clubs are an underrated piece of workout equipment that can help you build core, forearm and upper-body strength.
Image Credit: Peter Marino/LIVESTRONG.com

If you're looking for a unique and fun way to work your core, forearms and upper body, steel clubs — also called workout clubs — are a great piece of equipment to add to your home gym.

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Looking similar to bowling pins and available in weights from 5 to 45 pounds, steel clubs are are powerful pieces of fitness equipment for building core, shoulder and grip strength. Training with workout clubs offers a range of benefits to your workout, including:

  • Developing your grip with greater strength, mobility and endurance
  • Building shoulder mobility, through greater range of motion, and help develop shoulder endurance and strength
  • Allowing for multi-planar movement, which builds all three planes of movement (frontal, transverse and sagittal) in single motions
  • Allowing for anti-rotational training that helps build core stability
  • Building torque and tractional force through twisting and turning movements

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Neither kettlebells, dumbbells nor barbells can offer all of these benefits.

So, if you're ready to start using steel clubs in your exercise routine, we've got you covered. Check out the following six-move steel club workout to strengthen your core and upper body in a new and exciting way.

How to do it:‌ This workout is made up of two sets of exercises. Perform the first set, in sequence, three times. Rest 60 seconds after each time through. Perform the second set, in sequence, three times. Rest 60 seconds after each time through. The amount of reps per exercise are listed below.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 steel clubs

  • Exercise mat

Shop Our Favorite Steel Club Picks

Perform 3 Rounds of the Following Sequence

1. Single-Arm Swipe

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Sets 3
Reps 12
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. With the steel club facing up, grip the bottom of it with your right hand, right arm bent to 90 degrees so the club is directly in line with your upper arm. Keep your wrist neutral. Activate your shoulders, core and glutes.
  3. Inhale as you swing the club down at your side, then behind you, straightening your arm and slightly bending your knees as you do so.
  4. At the point of full arm extension, without stopping between motions, exhale as you use the momentum of the swing to reverse the motion and come back to starting position.
  5. Perform 6 reps on each side for a total of 12 reps.

Tip

You can do this exercise in staccato motions, pausing for a second each time you return to the starting position, or you can do all the steps in one smooth, fluid motion. Avoid arching your back one way or the other when making these motions, keeping it straight and your core engaged at all times.

2. Double-Arm Side Swing

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Sets 3
Reps 20
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. With the steel club facing down, grip the bottom of it with both fists pointing down.
  3. Bend your knees, inhale and twist your body to one side, holding the club out to the same side at a slight angle so it’s aligned with your quads.
  4. As you exhale, in a single motion, straighten your legs and twist back in the other direction. As you do so, swing the club in the same direction you're twisting in, keeping your arms straight until reaching full extension.
  5. Perform 10 reps on each side for a total of 20 reps.

3. Double-Arm Reverse Circle

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Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Start standing with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. With the steel club facing up, hold it in front of you with both fists facing up.
  3. Turn your body slightly to the left and pivot your toe and hip in the direction of the club’s momentum. Bring the steel club around with you and hoist it over your left shoulder and drop it back behind your head.
  4. Continuing in a smooth motion, rotate back to center and all the way to the right side. As you’re doing this, raise the club back up and around, over your shoulder and toward your front. When you complete the circle and return to facing forward, the club should now be facing down toward the ground.
  5. Perform 5 reps in each direction for a total of 10 reps.

Tip

Inhale on the first part of the swing, as you raise the club up, from forward to back; then, exhale on the second part of the swing, as you lower the club back down, from back to front. The entire rep should feel like you’re swinging the club around your head and shoulders in a smooth, circular motion.

Rest

Rest for 60 seconds. Sip some water and catch your breath. Then, perform the second and third round of the above sequence before moving on to the second portion of this workout, below.

Perform 3 Rounds of the Following Sequence

1. Double-Arm Press Out

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Sets 3
Reps 16
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Starting standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. With the steel club facing up, grip it with both hands (left hand on top) and hold it in front of the left side of your rib cage so that it’s in line with your left shoulder. Your left arm should be bent about 90 degrees and your right arm should be crossed over your abs.
  3. Exhale as you extend both arms out straight, so the club is directly in front of you, the base of the club approximately in line with your chest.
  4. Inhale as you return to starting position.
  5. Perform 8 reps with your right hand on top, then 8 reps with your left hand on top for a total of 16 reps.

2. Double-Arm Pull-Over

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Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. With the steel clubs facing up, grip one in each hand from the bottom with the club facing up. Hold your arms about 45 degrees out to your sides with your elbow bent 90 degrees.
  3. As you inhale, bring both arms up and in, your fists coming together behind your head so that both clubs are side by side facing down your back, elbows up and facing out.
  4. As you exhale, bring your arms and the clubs back over your head and down to starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10 reps.

3. Iron Cross to Flag Position

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Sets 3
Reps 8
Region Core and Upper Body
  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. With the steel clubs facing down, grip one in each hand behind your head with your arms bent and your elbows out.
  3. Slowly raise the clubs out to your sides by straightening your arms to your sides. At the end of the movement, your arms should be straight out to the sides at about shoulder height with your elbows locked.
  4. Maintaining full extension, pull your arms forward and upward until they meet in a 45-degree angle from your midline. While your fists are at a 45-degree angle upward (approximately in line with your eyes), the clubs are still held in a straight vertical position, not at an angle.
  5. Pull your arms up and back, behind your head, winding up in the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 8 reps.

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