Broom Handle Exercises for Strength and Fitness
Broom handle exercises is a simple exercise routine that originated in a booklet entitled: Overweight and Underweight: How to Treat Them, printed in the 1920s. Additional images come from Know the Game: Keeping Fit for all ages, a small booklet published in collaboration with the Fitness Advisory Bureau in the early 1960s.
It’s all too easy to dismiss such routines as ‘vintage’ or ‘out of date’, but with a little re-imagining, as I have done with this text, you can have an up-to-date FULL workout that will only take 5 minutes or so and only cost you the price of a broom handle! Oh, and sorry, there’s nothing I can do to make you fly – but you can cackle when you’re doing the exercises if you like…
When I decided to have a go at this workout, I went to a discount store and got a plastic mop that had a screw-in head. Sometimes I screw the head-on and use it as a mop – other times I unscrew the head and use it for a workout!
Here is a little bit on why broom handle exercises (or mop handle exercises!) might be a good idea:
Most exercises are what are called ‘isolation’ exercises – that is they are designed to work one part of the body only. A bicep curl, for example, is designed to work the bicep on the arm, and nothing more.
Machines in the gym are very good at this type of exercise, because they almost ‘lock’ the rest of the body in place while you either push or pull the handles for the required number of repetitions. While a beginner may think this is a good thing, a lot of exercise professionals disagree with such machines because they can hamper the development of supporting muscles – it is essentially a ‘cheat’.
On the other side of the coin are ‘free’ weights – dumb-bells and barbells. Using weights such as these means balance and coordination is required, and therefore the muscles required for balance and coordination will be developed. Many beginners find they can not lift (or press) nearly as much weight using free weights as on a machine – at least to start with. In certain cases, however, there are times when it is useful to cheat a little and this is where broom handle exercises can come in.
Broom Handle Exercises to Stop Your Cheating Body!
Given the choice, your body will cheat. Take for example the upper body rotation exercise (twisting to look behind you!). If I was to ask you to put your hands on your hips then twist your upper body to look behind you, then you would probably do this using a combination of waist, shoulder and neck rotation (and possibly even twisting your knees – a definite no-no!). There is nothing wrong with this I should add – but it does little to help waist mobility which is the point of the exercise. This is basically your body saying:
“I can’t rotate the waist enough, so I will use the shoulders to help…then get reinforcements from the neck!”
Over time, and with the correct use of focus (including realising which muscles you are trying to develop), you WILL improve, but there is a way to get into the correct habit quickly – using a broom handle.
The broom handle exercises in this book help keep things even and straight (like a machine), but also require balance and coordination (like free-weights).
I picked the following routine for its simplicity – seven exercises (plus some variations), that is all. So why not give it a go, just make sure you remember to take the mop/brush off the end of the broom first!
Staves, Staffs, and Sticks: Exercising with Bars
Broom Handle Exercises for Strength and Fitness is part of the Internal Force Fitness “Staves, Staffs, and Sticks” trilogy, comprising of this title and also:
Richie Neville | Director
Internal Force Fitness