The Persian sang is a large rectangular exercise board used for weight training Iranian style. They are used in pairs for strength and agility exercises, mainly while lying on the floor. It could be said they are the precurser of the bench press, and still practised widely today in Iran. They relate back to ancient warrior training for skilful use of shields used to ward off blows during fighting.
The Persian sang is one of the seven disciplines of the zurkhaneh (house of strength), the perfect accompanyment to the Persian meel clubs. The Sang, or wooden shield orginates from a large slab of stone used by the ancient Persian warriors to develop incredible strength as well as agility for the battlefield. Sang comes from the word sang-e zur (power stone) and represents the separ (shield). It is the first of the varzeš-e pahlavāni (heroic sport) exercises. One side of the shield is moved near the floor throughout the exercise is curved. There is a hole at the central part of each Sang with a bar across it that is used as a hand grip around this opening is covered by a soft material to protect the hand. The grip is focussed on the centre of the weight where the slightest movement applies a large amount of torque to the grip of the user. Once the sang have left the ground, the rules are that they must not touch each other, nor the floor, nor the body of the person weilding them. Attention is also given to keeping a flat shield totally parallel with the ground. Not as easy as it may sound.
Today, they are made of wooden planks, equipped with handles. The central wooden handles are often covered with felt to protect the hands while training. Each sang can measure up to 110 cm long and 80 cm wide. The wooden planks may vary in thickness between 3 and 6 cm with the density of wood further influencing the finished weight. Each sang can weigh anything from starter 5kg to 40kg mutant, together making 10 to 80kg sets. Traditionaly, the athlete will lie on his back on a blanket or carpet on the ground. Then, he takes the handles so that each hand is holding one sang before starting on a series of exercises.