Indian Clubs (named so by colonial settlers to India) or Gada clubs are skittle shaped, similar to juggling clubs, with varying weights and sizes. They originated as a training implement for Indian soldiers. Club swinging has been a part of the Indian culture over the centuries and they have been used to improve hand eye coordination, strength, balance and agility.
A smaller and lighter version of a mace bell, Gada clubs can be used in two hands simultaneously, creating not only some great training routines but also gymnastic choreography, allowing the wielder to perform tricks and skills, as well as building strength. This makes them a great and underused calisthenics training tool.
The main training focus of the Gada club is shoulder mobility, but they also benefit grip strength, wrist mobility, as well as core and upper body strength. They can also be used as a kettlebell can be, making them incredibly versatile.
To make the most of the Gada club you need to master the two main grips; Hammer and Sabre. The hammer grip is the same as a hammer grip for a bicep curl. Hold the skinny end of the club with a straight wrist so that the weighted end of the club points upwards. The sabre grip is similar but you angle your wrist so that the weighted end of the club is pointing straight forward, similar to the En Garde position in fencing. Don’t grip the club too tightly, just grip firmly enough to allow a slight movement in your hand.
After you have secured these two grips with steady precision you can start to swing them around a bit. Be careful not to do this in a small room containing valuable items! Similar to the Macebell, but with one small mace in each hand. Here’s a link to Ricky Warren’s Macebell tutorial, to give you an idea of where to get started.
With Gada clubs shoulder and wrist mobility can be worked whilst building strength. You can also work through different planes of motion whilst using rotation. This allows the core to be brought in to play as well.
I recently had an issue with my right rotator cuff, and was recommended practicing gentle swings as a way of building strength with full ROM (range of motion), whilst being able to gently build strength and rehabilitate the joint capsule. I would highly recommend a light Gada club workout to add to any mobility or rehab programme for your shoulders, having experienced their effects first hand.
This video from Critical Bench has some really nice techniques to get you started with Gada clubs. Because the weight is always at the end of the club, the momentum of the moving club carries you through any rotation and movement smoothly and safely. The list of techniques covered in the video are below:
Traditional Swing - Single
Traditional Swing - Double
High Swing w/ Hip Hinge
Once you have mastered these techniques individually, you can start to combine them together to create routines that will work for you. With their size and shape, the Gada club is easily portable and easier to move around multiple plains of motion than a kettlebell. You can also vary club weights to build up functionally strong shoulders and wrists, whilst practising your hand eye coordination.
So what are you waiting for? Go and get started with Gada clubs and tag us @gravityfitness on social media so we can see your progress.