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Shovelglove 203 - Dual Wield Techniques

Urban Primalist

Dual Wield!

How awesome would it be to swing two hammers at once?


The question was obvious, but the answer elusive.  For the longest time I couldn’t figure out an approach to dual wield.  The stems, so awkward.  The weights, too ballistic.


Rubbish.  Today I bring you eight new techniques, eight!  Are you not entertained?!

Get in my body!

But First, Today’s Navel Gaze: Testosterone 

Ever since I started lifting, this particular anabolic hormone has been a preoccupation of mine.  We all know that both genders need it, particularly for strength.  Women need testosterone for proper hormonal health and to become – what do you call it? – “toned”.  


But it’s men whom I mainly address here.  Guys, we need testosterone.  We need all we can get so that our muscles inflate like balloons, our jaws harden into granite, and the oceans of society part before us like the Red Sea.  Well, okay, maybe we don’t “need” all that.  We could always slip under the radar as gamma males trading on our tedious reliability.  Doing the crossword, watching the PBS pledge drive, and falling asleep in front of the golf game as our man-boobs marinate in a soothing sea of estrogen.  Balderdash!  Who doesn’t want to be a silverback?  We need testosterone.


We can’t just inject it.  Many of us have endocrine systems that are genetically stingy to begin with, and exogenous sources just depress our natural production and shrink our testicles.  Shrunken testicles are a deal breaker for me.  I hope they are for you, too.


Then there are the testosterone boosters, which operate by a variety of mechanisms.  Tribulus Terrestris.  Eurycoma Longifolia.  Fenugreek.  But at best you're just fiddling around the edges.  At worst you're putting your endocrine system on crutches.  What your body really needs is to man up and produce testosterone by itself.


Look, I had a very low testosterone reading once and I was tempted by exogenous solutions.  Surely there must be some miraculous supplement?  Zinc can help, but only if you're deficient.  Dietary cholesterol also helps, but if you're already eating like a hunter, you get plenty.  So what exactly are you supposed to do?


Now that I have been weightlifting for a year, I'll tell you what.  You MAKE your own testosterone.  You synthesize it on demand by getting under some damn heavy weights.  You earn more by having a thrilling adventure, wielding power, and swinging hammers like your life depends on it.


In other words, if you want the hormones of a man, you need to eat like a man and act like a man!  Is that really so hard to understand?  Apparently it was for me.  Man, I’m thick sometimes.  Not like you.

It's on now.

Okay, You Can Start Reading Here:  Dual Wield Principles 

First of all, dual wield is not for beginners.  You have to be decently far along the sledgehammer talent tree to attempt these.  That’s why we had six classes before we got to this material.


We’re used to asymmetric motions, but most of these are symmetric.  That means you can’t use half your body as a counterweight.  You will be relying on sheer momentum and muscle, lots of it in the shoulders, most of it in the core.  Reinhard Engels gave us reason to despise the push-up as an exercise.  After today’s lesson, I hope you will understand that the same applies to sit-ups, crunches, or any of that pelvis-to-ribcage nonsense.  Writhing like a pathetic slug on the filthy ground!  Is that any way to honor your ancestors, human?


We mitigate the difficulty by using lighter hammers.  Most of my videos feature the 21.6-pound Barbarossa.  For these moves, I dropped to Castor and Pollux, eight pounds each.


I warn you, it is a challenge to keep the hammers from hitting each other, or even you.  Don’t try to stop the hammers with your body.  Swing only hard enough that you can brake them using the eccentric contraction and gentle traction that we mastered in the first quarter.

Dual Wield Techniques 

Psycho, wind it up!  Say, do you all really want pictures for these?  Because video is easier and these are hard to explain in words.  Let me know by emailing this domain if you want illustrations.

#1: Cross Country

Grab your skis, we’re trading the Zambezi for Finlandia.  Slowly build up a pendulum motion swinging by the extreme end of the handles.  Then really start reaching out in front of you.  You know how I said not to hit yourself with the hammers?  Yep!

#2:  Double Bullroarer


This one is hard.  If you’re familiar with the regular Bullroarer you know where we’re going with these.  I guarantee a coordination challenge and rapid fatigue.

#3: Bird of Prey


Aha!  Now we’re ready to smash something!  Chamber the hammers in a backscratcher motion, then explode forward as if to strike an anvil in front of you.  Use your abs as a slingshot, hammers passing outside of your legs.  Then let your posterior chain wind the hammers back to starting position.

#4: Dual Hail


This motion is very similar to Bird of Prey, but now the explosive burst is on an upward thrust rather than the downward swing.

#5: Taiko Twist


This used to be a bodyweight stretch.  To the devil with bodyweight stretches!  We’ve got hammers!  Remember, no hitting your body.  Muscle these.

#6: Clumsy Shrug


Grip both hammers in a single hand: one between thumb and forefinger, and one between forefinger and the other fingers.  Never worked your grip quite this way before, have you?  Yank those suckers up, but don’t let the heads swing apart, or they will swing back together and crush your finger.  It's a proprioceptive cornucopia!

#7: Hammer Catches

Here’s another grip exercise for you.  Hold both hammers at middle grip.  Let them drop down to the heads, then fire them back up and grab the stems again.  How far down can you grab and still keep the hammers from keeling over?  A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.

#8: The Hydra


Everything we do relies on the upper body, but this really nails it.  Chamber the hammers in a backscratcher motion, then swing them together in front of you, alternating which hammer passes over the other.  Really stretches out everything from the traps to the pecs for a nice cooldown.

There you go, eight introductory dual wield techniques.  Now you’re swinging just like your exceptionally talented ancestors must have done.  Repeat after me:  I will never do targeted ab work again.  Now go make testosterone.


Next week: Switch Grip Techniques

All text copyright © 2010-2013 Timothy Williams