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This century-old exercise machine is making a comeback




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Between barbells, cables, dumbbells and machines that simulate everything, from rowing to skiing, there is no shortage of opportunities to complete a great workout. But there's an old-fashioned device that is gaining momentum these days, appearing in gyms and probably in your Instagram feed: The Steel Club. It may be a newer modality for most of us, but the Steel Club's inspiration goes back centuries.

These wooden bowling pins, colloquially referred to as "Indian clubs," date back to India. According to the American Journal of Public Health after the Civil War they became a widespread form of movement in Europe and America after British soldiers brought the practice to the West.

Indian clubs still exist ̵

1; you can even buy them online. But nowadays you can find steel lobes, an updated version of the classic whose weight can vary between 5 and 50 pounds.

"The clubs are just a unique stimulus to the human body," says Cristian Plascencia, an experienced longevity trainer at the Onnit Academy who uses clubs in his training. "In a Western culture where dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells are king, the Steel Club offers a unique experience that challenges the entire system to stabilize the weight vector."

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Steel Clubs are versatile, but Plascencia particularly likes to use them for shoulder work, as anyone who regularly performs overhead activities such as throwing, shooting and pressing would benefit greatly from taking on some clubs. "Because of their unique design, they can go through a variety of movement areas," he says. "It's this full range of motion that allows the joints to become more robust."

Beyond shoulder work, you can use steel billets for all your conventional moves, such as squatting, stretching, hinging, pushing, and pulling. Basically, everything you do with dumbbells right now can be done with rackets. However, Plascencia points out that bats are more about finesse than raw starch. Grabbing the heaviest racket in the gym and clinging to your loved one will quickly exhaust your grip muscles.

As with any other strength training, you should always start slowly with lighter weights before switching to heavier ones. "The 2.5 and 5 pound clubs are absolutely crucial to the health and longevity of the shoulders, and I currently program them at least twice a week for my NBA guys," says Plascencia.

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To get started with steel clubs, he recommends trying a front sweater, a basic movement that recruits multiple muscle groups and gets you used to holding the strained clubs in your hands.

How to Make a Front Pullover

Hold a club In each hand, arms bent 90 degrees and the weighted end of the clubs pointed toward the sky. Start by pulling back your hands and clubs behind your shoulders so that your elbows bend to the ceiling and the clubs point to the floor behind you. Hold your ribs and pelvis firmly. Slowly pull your arms back to the starting position.

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