Our quick post today comes from this amazingly done article by The HEMAists, source linked at the end.
In summary of this article, training with a heavier item can have the opposite effect intended. Studies are showing that placebo effect is to blame more than actual skill and strength attained. In exchange for a higher risk of repetitive injuries, athletes show less accuracy for the strength they obtained since adjusting to the minute details of the weight distribution are necessary.
Our standard longswords are a little less than 3 lbs. Trust us, this is plenty of weight after 2 hours of training and fighting. To gain strength, put the sword down and do exercises that use weight in a way that your fine motor skills do not have to re-adjust for like push ups and traditional weight lifting. To gain more accuracy, it is recommended to use a lighter weapon so one can practice longer and focus with less fatigue. This has historical context as well.
When it comes to the shield, the same can be said. Traditionally speaking shields were much lighter than our training shields we use (which we make heavier and solid out of practicality and cost rather than historical accuracy) and adapted to one's body. Holding a shield appropriate to your body's size and even training with a lighter shield for technique learning can cement the concept in your muscle memory without worry that you'll "lose" the technique when you pick up something more protective in the ring. Certainly for traditional weightlifting, a dumbbell can easily replace the shield and provide many of the same exercises in a weight distribution that benefits the arms better.
So, if you're someone training with a stick or broom handle in your spare time, worry not! You are getting great benefit from your sessions.
Thanks to the HEMAists for creating this fantastically written article, and we hope you all click and check it out as there is some incredible information on the subject.