You are just $30 away from stronger, more flexible and healthier shoulders…

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Posts

Indian Clubs.

No I’m not talking about Native American fraternities. Nor motorcycle gangs devoted to defunct American brands. I’m talking about a lost art of the Old Time Strongman. Something  on the cutting edge of the everything old is new again fitness movement.

Not my grandpa.

Shoulder health is an important consideration for me. I’m over thirty, I work at a job that makes extensive use of my arms and shoulders and I like to do exercises that abuse the hell out of them. So when people like Louie Simmons start saying that these are what allowed him to keep lifting more than I’ll ever dream about lifting after a complete shoulder socket replacement. I start listening. Here’s Louie giving us the low down:

However, when someone starts talking about needing a pair of fifty to eighty dollar Indian Clubs for the sake of safety. I stop listening. First off, this reeks of advertising disguised as an article. Secondly his statement about only recommending one specific brand of clubbell sounds a lot like something he’s paid to say. I’m not trying to impinge Mr. Myers’ credibility. I’m just simply suggesting his knowledge of the structural qualities of schedule forty PVC pipe may be a little under developed.

I made a pair for under $30 today. Once the glue dries fully I’m going to go out and give these things my best swing-for-the-fences effort. If they fail, I’ll delete everything that comes after this and leave the above as a reminder.

You’ll need the following:

Two feet of 2″ diameter PVC pipe – $3.36

Five Feet of 3/4″ diameter PVC pipe – ~$2 (I had some on hand and forgot to check the price, sue me)

Four 2″ PVC couplers – $0.64 each

Two 2″ Cleanouts with caps – $1.34 each

Four 3/4 caps – $0.39 each

Two 2″ to 3/4 bushings – $1.16 each

One small can of glue – $3.39

One small can of primer – $2.99

One 50 pound sack of sand – $3.66

Added to this are four ziploc freezer baggies and some 3/4 inch pipe insulation. I had both on hand, if you don’t it might run you another five bucks. You know what. It’s probably more like $25 for me but you could include the price of gas if you have to drive somewhere to borrow the tools. I’ll call it $30 when averaged for cost of living.

Tools needed are a hacksaw, dremel tool (or round file and sand paper), pliers to open the glue and a rubber mallet or board (I like the board better).

The booty.

DISCLAIMER: Do this in a well ventilated place. Primer and glue fumes are poisonous and flammable. Don’t do stupid shit people.

Here’s the deal. You’re going to cut the 2″ pipe into two one foot sections. You’re going to cut two, one foot sections and two six inch sections of 3/4′ pipe. Set the six inch sections aside for later.

Next grab your bushings. They probably have a ridge around the inside to keep the 3/4″ pipe from sliding all the way through. You’ll need to get rid of that. For the sake of strength we’re going to use one of those caps and a lot of glue to hold the 3/4″ pipe in the bushing. A properly glued 3/4″ cap does most of the heavy lifting in holding 25 pounds of weight on the end of my Scottish hammer. I trust it more than I trust the bushing alone. I used a dremel tool both to remove the ridge and sand out the inside of the bushing to let the pipe slide through easier. If you don’t have a dremel you could use a round file and sand paper.

The ridge is at the bottom of the inner hole.

This makes the first of the god-awful smells you'll encounter.

After you’ve removed this ridge it’s time to start priming and assembling. You can do this in any order, but I recommend fitting the the 3/4″ pipe into the bushing and the gluing a cap on the appropriate side. You’re going to have a cap on the inside and outside of the bushing. Putting the cap on the inside only makes it easier to remember that the round side is the side that plugs into the 2″ coupler when it comes time to glue the bushing. Whack pieces into place with the board once you’ve applied the glue to ensure they are seated all the way in. I like a board better than a mallet because it spreads the impact evenly over the end of the pipe.

3/4 inch handle in the bushing. put the first cap on the short end sticking out of the round side.

Primed: Pipes, bushings, caps and couplers. These can all be glued at once.

Glue the cap. Then glue the pipe below the cap and slide the bushing into place.


From there the rest is pretty self explanatory. You’re going to glue the couplers onto the 2″ pipe and then glue the handle and the clean out cap to the 2″ pipe. I’d recommend gluing the clean out first so you can set that on the ground and whack the handle in.

Whacking day.

Once you get that finished it’s time to add some weight. I wanted the weight out towards the end and not to move, so I used the 6″ pipe sections and some pipe insulation for spacers.

This is my spacer. Fancy.

From there you’ll add some sand, encased in ziplock baggies for weight.

This amount of sand looked good. About 1 and 1/4 pounds.

The more sand you put in, the more baggies you'll have to use.

You’ll need to divide the sand into more than one baggie, or it’ll never fit into the pipe. However, with the baggies and the spacers, you’ve got something you have at least a chance of getting back out of the screw cap so you can add weight if you want to.

All that's missing is duct tape.

After the glue dries, a few strips of duct tape around the bushing joint would help strengthen it to the same level as the handle. Add some athletic tape on the ends for grip and get swinging. Total weight of each club here is around four pounds. a little heavier than recommended for a complete novice. I may remove or add weight in the future.

The only thing left to figure out is what to do with the other 47 pounds of sand.

The next question is how to use them. We’ve seen Louie do his thing, but there’s a gentleman named Julio Anta who’s uploaded a fairly complete set of basic moves to youtube. Just by clicking on his various videos you can get a fairly complete education on the various basic moves. As Julio mentions on his website he’s trained with Dr. Ed Thomas, who’s largely responsible for bringing Indian Clubs back to light and has put out a DVD on the subject. As I’ve said before, pay for knowledge. That DVD is on my wish list.

However, I’ll start by using the moves demonstrated by Mr. Anta on youtube. If I’m ever in Miami. I’ll take him out to lunch to return the favor.

Here’s another link on Indian Clubs and shoulder health. It contains an awesome video of a pair of 17 kilogram (38 pound) clubs being swung by a guy much stronger than me.

I’ll keep everyone posted on how these work for me. In the mean time, if you’ve got shoulder pain, or need stronger and more flexible shoulders why not make a pair and start swinging?


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