The Indian mudgar or club has been having its moment in the sun for the past couple of years. A traditional equipment used by pehelwans (Indian wrestlers) to weight train in akharas (wrestling arenas), the mudgar in recent times has been wielded by cricketers, actors and fitness enthusiasts, all of whom have shared the beneficial impact it has had on their bodies. Bengaluru-based Rishabh Malhotra, in fact, went ahead and created Tagda Raho, an entire training program with movements designed around this Indian equipment. That is because after being diagnosed with a rare condition known as Brachial Neuritis that led to a 70% paralysis in his left arm, what helped him recoup and build back all his strength and range of motion was working with a wooden mudgar.
The mudgar’s Indian connection goes all the way back to ancient sculptures of Mudgar Yakshas that shows them holding these clubs. Tracing its Indian martial history, an early article in Lounge, mentions that soldiers practiced strength training with the mudgar as it kept their muscles under tension for longer periods of time. You can read more about the history and its current resurgence in the country in this story here: The ‘mudgar’ and traditional Indian fitness training.
A weight-training equipment that is regaining popularity among both men and women today, Malhotra lists out the key benefits of working out with the wooden mudgar.
Unique weight distribution enhances balance and strength:
The mudgar stands out due to its unique weight distribution. Unlike barbells or dumbbells, which have equal weight distributed on both sides, the mudgar's entire weight is stacked on one side. This design creates a lever-like action that transforms the lifting and swinging dynamics – demanding more single-leg and arm movements and enhancing balance and strength. This ensures there is little room for the body to cheat during exercises.
Swinging motion increases resilience to injuries:
Swinging the mudgar is considered one of the best functional movements for athletes, fitness enthusiasts and individuals aiming to improve their overall fitness and strength. The swinging element in these workouts helps increase resilience to injuries by training the body to move in all the three planes of motion it is naturally designed for. As a result, the body becomes better adapted to handle high-impact movements without compromising balance.
Overhead movements increase shoulder strength and mobility:
Another benefit of the mudgar is its ability to develop shoulder strength and mobility. The gradual loss of overhead movements has led many people today to struggle with shoulder issues, including limited mobility, susceptibility to injuries, and lack of strength. Training with the wooden club involves the use of overhead movements, leading to stronger, more flexible, and injury-resilient shoulders that are free from pain.
Multiplanar exercises enhance overall stability:
Stabiliser muscles play a crucial role in distributing the load and impact of various movements throughout the body. Weak stabiliser muscles can lead to reduced strength, compromised balance, and an increased risk of injury. Training with the mudgar involves multiplanar movements, engaging stabiliser muscles in a way that no other equipment can replicate. This unique training approach enhances stabiliser muscle strength, improving overall stability and reducing the likelihood of injuries.
Consistent training leads to strong, stable core:
The swinging action, paired with the uneven weight distribution of the mudgar, forces the body to engage the core muscles for balance and facilitate movement in three dimensions. These exercises cannot be performed effectively without activating the core. Consistent training with this equipment leads to a strong and stable core, as most movements involve cross-body actions that require the core muscles and obliques to fire and stabilise the body.
Dynamic movements strengthen lower body muscles:
The benefits of the mudgar extend beyond the upper body, enabling individuals to train their entire body as a unified unit. The offset weight, lever-like actions and dynamic movements in all three planes of motion cannot be executed by relying solely on strong arms. The lower body becomes the anchor, and the core muscles transfer the power, load and stress generated by these multiplanar movements. The constant movement of a centre of mass in all directions challenges the body, requiring individuals to constantly shift weight, move from one leg to another, and swiftly returns the weight to the centre to prevent falls.
On the whole, training with a mudgar has proven beneficial for a wide range of injuries and sports training. It is recommended for use by professional athletes, women and men who have never trained in a gym, those seeking an alternative to traditional gym workouts and those recovering from chronic pain. Its versatility and ability to cater to various fitness levels and goals makes it a special and highly effective training method. As all workout recommendations go, do consult with your doctor before beginning a workout programme with the mudgar.