Clubbells or Indian Clubs: A Tool for your Workouts!

Clubbells or Indian Clubs: A Tool for your Workouts!

Have you ever heard about Clubbells or Indian Clubs?

Does the word sound familiar? Probably not, since they are not that popular.

Pay attention, because we are going to tell you all you need to know about this ancient workout system that we have retrieved from the past.

What are clubbells or Indian clubs?

Clubbells or Indian clubs are terms that refer to an accessory used during the Persian Epoch to exercise the body.

Later on, it has been used in the circus, as an accessory for marginal exercise and as a tradition in some countries (such as India).

When the Kettlebells started to become popular, more or less at the same time as military training, functional training and cross training started to get closer to each other. All of them became one and gave birth to what we know as CrossFit®.

Clubbell Squats

At that moment, Scott Sonnon saw a unique commercial opportunity and he registered the brand Clubbells® and CST (Circular Strength Training®) without hesitation.

If you want to find out more about Kettlebell Training, click here.

The origin of clubbells

It is not clear since they we could say that they have always been there. They are nothing else than a straight stick with a heterogeneous distribution of the weight.

Does anyone know what is the difference between a Clubbell and a mace?

Clubbell and Mace

Actually, they have the same design with the weight located in one point in order to improve the ballistic movement.

Its origin is so old as the first hominids who took a heavy object (like a rock) and put it on a stick to defend themselves against a threat.

Ancestral workout

Its “methodical” origin goes back to the varzesh-e pahlavāni rituals from ancient Persia.

There, men gathered themselves in a ceremony that combined movements from martial arts, callisthenics, strength exercises and music.

As a workout and physical conditioning system, it belonged to a grappling style fight system known as koshti pahlavāni.

Indian Club Swinging

Currently, we know it as Indian club swinging, which involved a type of physical exercise that became extremely popular after the Civil War.

This workout system used clubbells, taking advantage of their mechanical features in order to perform dynamic and ballistic movements as well as throwing.

All of this under the slogan of being a workout designed to “develop the body and mind and obtain a lean physique”.

Clubbell movements

The Central School of Physical Education was created with the same purpose, balancing the physical and mental energy of men.

It was a place where physical exercise prevented the corruption of the humanism of men, in order to avoid falling into vices and misfortune throughout their adult life.

Women were not able to participate in these activities until later on. Above all, the argument was that “it was not adequate for their development as women, since they would become brute and lose their femininity”.

Fortunately, this does not happen anymore: Myths about Exercise and Women.

What are Clubbells used for?

Their “creator”, Scott Sonnon, uses the same slogan that people used before but he has slightly adapted it. In fact, he states that “it can benefit everyone”.

Despite the fact that it sells as a unique workout system, the reality is quite different. It is still like a long kettlebell, a dumbbell with a badly distributed weight…

The truth is what Scott says when he refers to the use of Clubbells implies the connection of the production of strength from the upper body to the core, when he says that they are just an extension of the body.

Indian Clubs

Clubbells or Indian Clubs

The movements we can do with the clubbells are ballistic movements, which activate all the muscles from the body.

What are clubbells used for? To do functional training, do you know what this means? Then, keep reading...

Benefits of Clubbells

The benefits of clubbells are not due to an error in the matrix or due to the fact that they are superior to traditional dumbbells. Let me explain.

Clubbells are a useful tool, why? Because they use the same principle as a kettlebell: their weight distribution is heterogeneous, which means that their mass center is displaced.

Weight distribution kettlebell vs clubbell

This image clearly shows the weight distribution, the blue area is where most of the weight is.

On the contrary, the red area holds less weight and it is the place where we grip both elements. The green arrow shows the displacement tendency of the mass.

Then, are a clubbell and a kettlebell the same thing?

No, even though they use the same mechanical principle, the fact that they have such a different design results in a completely different tool with unique features.

Advantages of clubbells

  • The fact that it is a cylinder and lineal means that the weight is condensed in a line. Unlike the kettlebell, which distributes the weight throughout its width, which is harder to handle in certain exercises.
  • In addition, it allows a more comfortable neutral grip than the kettlebell, although we cannot do a prone grip.
  • The fact that it is so long separates the weight from the grip, making it more difficult to control it.
To illustrate this point, you can try taking a kettlebell and a clubbell and do a “bottom up”.

Kettlebell vs Clubbell

Guess which one is going to require more strength… Exactly! The clubbell.

Why use clubbells?

Because they are just another accessory.

Strengthening the Core

Due to the dynamic nature and the constant need of stabilizing the clubbell, we need to engage the core. Therefore, we will not lose the tension of our balance and we will not fall in every single movement.

Controlling our breathing

We will be able to control the movement of the clubbell in both phases of the movement with the Valsalva and/or brace maneuvers.

Thanks to its design, we can perform specific exercises, specially those that involve the rotation of the shoulder joint

Clubbell movements

Once again, like many other accessories, if you have it and you think it will help you reach your objectives, start using it!

Exercises with clubbells

The exercises that you can do with clubbells are the same as any other accessory. In fact, they are specific movements similar to the ones you can do with a  kettlebell.

Swings

Pendulum movements that take advantage of the weight displacement in order to produce inertia, without stopping.

Pendulum

They are swings but we stop the inertia of the movement at some point. For example, we do a lateral swing but stop the clubbells when they reach the height of our eyes.

Clubbell movement pattern

Circles

The shoulder joint makes circles, taking advantage of the inertia.

Cleans/Jerks/Snatches

These three movements are used in weightlifting competitions, but instead of doing them with a barbell, we can use clubbells.

Presses

Presses, a jerk is a press.

Casts

Transverse plane circumductions and shoulder joint rotations that help us work the eccentric control of the clubbell.

Ballistic exercises

The main advantage of clubbells over other accessories is our ability to work on the eccentric control of the movement during ballistic exercises. Moreover, it also helps to control the accessory in static positions that require stabilization.

If it is difficult for you to control the clubbells, you can grip it closer to the weight in order to have more control.

Workout Routine with Clubbells

Clubbells competition

The truth is that we have been looking thoroughly and there is no clubbell federation or anything similar.

However, there is a “world ranking”, but there is no championship where athletes gather compete against each other. In fact, they record themselves performing movements while following these premises:

First trial – Double Swipe (2 clubbells)

Do as many repetitions in 10 minutes without the clubbells touching the ground.

A repetition counts when both clubbells go completely behind the head and completely behind the knees. You can hold the clubbels or rest but not under the knees and with the feet on the ground.

Second trial – One arm alternating mil (1 clubbell)

Do as many repetitions in 10 minutes without the clubbells touching the ground.

A half repetition involves passing the central line (which refers to the body sagittal plane) on the front with the elbow blocked until it passes the central line to the other side. Finally, the clubbell should (at least partially) pass the central line behind the back.

  • You can freely alternate your hands at any time.
  • However, the total repetitions equal the common number of repetitions with both hands (I guess this means that you have the lowest number).
  • Not more than 30 minutes of rest between the two trials.

Due to the consistency of the weight distribution, you can only compete authentic clubbells, although you can participate with any club.

The winner of each category wins a t-shirt 😉

Categories: 10lbs (4.5kg), 15lbs (6.8kg), 20lbs (9kg), 25lbs (11.3kg), 35lbs (15.8kg)

Conclusions

Well, let’s be critical.

The circuit system training® is nothing more than a commercial strategy to sell products and formation related to a specific type of training. In addition, said formation is probably taught by some who probably does not have a previous formation in order to teach this type of training.

Clubbells are just long kettlebells and you do not need the official ones, which cost a lot of money.

Any maze works, you can find some at ¼ of the price from the original brand. But if you want some quality you can purchase the original ones and request a custom clubbells.

The pendulum and cast movements are interesting, the rest you can do with kettlebells or other accessories.

You can use first movements to strengthen and re-adapt the muscles that surround the waist as well as the eccentric control of the movement.

If we put aside the irregularities of the competition, it looks quite interesting, hard and challenging. We would like to try it!

What about you? Do you think you could do more than 160 double swipes in the first trial? 😉

Related Entries

  • The Clubbells can be a perfect accessory for Krav Maga Training.
  • What is Weightlifting?.
Clubbells Review

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About Alfredo Valdés
Alfredo Valdés
A specialist in Pathophysiology and biomolecular effects on nutrition and sportive activity who will show you the elaborate world of sports nutrition in his articles, employing a simple and critical writing.
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