Alternating Sledgehammer Slams To Tire (How To & Tips)

The sledgehammer is an awesome and unique tool for athletes to use in the gym to improve upper body strength, power, and even conditioning!

This exercise is a great full-body, rotational power-based movement with the added benefit of shoulder stability and mobility. This is a great option to use as a finisher at the end of a session as well.

In this article, I will be going over how to do the sledgehammer slam, coaching points, and some ideas for you to use in training.

How To Do The Sledgehammer Slam

Equipment Needed

  • Sledgehammer (10-20 pounds)
  • Tractor tire

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Hold the sledgehammer with one hand on the end of the handle and the other hand about 3/4 of the way toward the head of the hammer.
  • Take a strong athletic stance. Slight bend in the knee and hips back.
  • Always remember to engage the core.
  • Pull the hammer up and rotate the hammer until it is slightly overhead.
  • Your arms should still be slightly bent.
  • Forcefully bring the hammer down to slam
  • As the hammer approaches the tire, you should feel your top hand slide and they will be together at impact.
  • Alternate sides until you finish your set.

Coaching Points

  • Be sure to select a hammer that is not too heavy. If the hammer is too heavy, you will not have proper form and you will not benefit from the exercise
  • Focus on force production. Slam the tire as hard as you can.
  • Remember to engage the core. As you bring the hammer down, really pull down with those lats and abs to get the best strike possible.


Some potential benefits of sledgehammer slams include:

  1. Improved strength: Sledgehammer slams require a lot of force to lift and swing the hammer, which can help to build strength in the arms, shoulders, and upper back.
  2. Improved power: Sledgehammer slams involve explosive movements that can help to improve power and speed.
  3. Improved endurance: Sledgehammer slams can be performed as a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise, which can help to improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
  4. Improved coordination: Sledgehammer slams require coordination and control to swing the hammer accurately and safely, which can help to improve overall body control and coordination.
  5. Improved functional fitness: Sledgehammer slams mimic movements that are often used in everyday life and sports, such as swinging a golf club or baseball bat. This can help to improve functional fitness and athletic performance.

It’s important to note that sledgehammer slams can be challenging and potentially risky if not performed correctly.

It’s always a good idea to start with a lighter hammer and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise. It’s also important to use proper form and technique to reduce the risk of injury.

Muscles Worked

Whole body movement with a focus on:

  1. Shoulders and upper back
  2. Abdominal core muscles (Rectus abdominis, Serratus anteior, Obliques)
  3. Forearms

Sledgehammer Ideas

For Strength and Power:

On an upper body day, program your sledgehammer work into one of your first movements of the day. After warming up, this would be a great “primer” movement to prepare your body for an upper body-focused session. Use a slightly heavier sledgehammer here.


A1) Sledge Hammer Slam 3 x 3 each side

A2) Band Pull Apart 3 x 10

B1) Bench Press 3 x 5

B2) Rear Delt Raise 3 x 10

C1) Barbell Push-Up 2 x 8, 1 AMRAP

C2) 1-Arm DB Row 3 x 8 each Side

C3) Banded Horizontal Row 3 x 10-20

For Conditioning:

The sledgehammer can also be a great tool for conditioning. After your main work is done for the day, you can challenge yourself with some sledgehammer work to increase work capacity. Use a lighter sledgehammer for conditioning purposes.

I recommend Tabata-style training here. This means work time is 20 seconds, rest time is 10 seconds, and you repeat for 8 rounds. Alternate the sides as you slam. Use a stopwatch or a partner to help you track your time.

Sledgehammer Alternatives

Have Sledgehammer Swings in your training program, but you don’t have a sledgehammer (or a tire to bang it into)? Here are a few alternatives that you might be able to use as a replacement. Want even more options? Here are my 10 favorite Sledgehammer Slam alternatives.

Med Ball Slams

Med Ball Slams

Med Ball Slams work as a great substitution for Sledgehammer Swings. You can get a lot of your body involved – shoulders, back, arms, core – especially if you’re using a relatively heavy med ball (a heavy slam ball is even better).

Plus, you still get the added benefit of being able to let out a bit of potential pent up aggression.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swings also closely mimic the movement of Sledgehammer Swings. Yes, the force is going in the opposite direction, but a lot of the same movers are at play.

The shoulders, low back, hips and core all get a great workout from Kettlebell Swings and they are a total body movement that goes in great with Tabata-style finisher combos.

More Links and Info

Looking for some more great exercises to take your exercise regimen to the next level? Check out the Upper Body Lifts Section of our Exercise Library and crush your goals!

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