By Sona Mason
Move front hand to the head. Lift. Slide hand back to the other hand. Smash.
As a life-long gym-hater, I don’t find many opportunities for an upper body workout. Hiking exercises only the largest muscles, situated on the body’s lower half, unless one is carrying a heavy tool like a rock bar or pick of course.
Wielding a tool in the glorious “outdoor gym” offers unparalleled opportunities to get more toned while getting some summer outside time.
Swinging a pick-mattock in our rocky soils requires some precision, but smashing down on some crush with a sledge-hammer, or “double-jack,” is pure pleasure. All it requires is lifting the sledge in an ergonomic manner and letting it fall, then witnessing instant gratification for your effort: crushed rock with which to fill holes in the ground, or set large rock on as stairs or step stones across a path.
Hefting the hammer’s heavy head engages the biceps; swinging it up awakens the triceps, which keep it from going overhead; the shoulders and abs help pull the sledge head forward, to smash down satisfactorily on the rock.
Not to be forgotten is the core workout: the abdominal wall automatically engaged to keep the body steady and the back straight. Deep knee bends, or “squats” as the gym rats like to call them, are excellent large muscle tune-ups, and very necessary to avoid bending and straining the back.
While women might imagine this is too hard for them, it’s actually a very doable movement, not requiring a lot of heavy muscle exertion, but more of a shoulder-joint loosening rhythm.
The mind benefits too: keeping the focus on one action at a time and entering a kind of zone free of inner distractions.
Not to mention the antidote it can be to a frustrating week behind a desk. Sledging lunch-breaks. What a thought.
So move over yoga, sledging is the new Zen.
And don’t forget to breathe.