Are you considering training with a steel mace so you can take your MMA sports performance to the next level?
Well, we think you have the right idea.
Steel mace training is for the toughest of the tough. It builds impressive strength, bone-crushing face-smashing rotational power, never-ending endurance, rock-solid muscles, concrete-like core strength, and vice-lock grip strength.
The steel mace is one of the most fitting training tools for MMA athletes, and in this article, we are going to explain exactly why.
Maces have been around for a long, long time. We are talking thousands of years. It is an ancient weapon that was used by many ancient civilizations during war. The Romans, Vikings, and Persians are most notable for having used maces of different styles during battle. Some maces were long, some were short, some had spikes, and some were made of stones, others made of metal, and some were even made of gold and silver.
In India, wrestling has been a popular sport for centuries, dating back as far as 5th century BC. The most popular wrestling in India right now is Pehlwani wresting, and it has been around since the 1500s. It is a grappling focused form of wrestling.
Pehlwani wrestlers use a variety of training tools, one of which is the Gada (redesigned in the West fitness world and known as the Steel Mace or Macebell).
The Gada (mace) is a club that is associated with the Hindu God of Strength, Hanuman.
They give trophies in India in the form of Gadas made from silver and gold.
One of the most famous wrestlers to ever live, The Great Gama, was known for using a Gada in his training. There are pictures of him holding the Gada, and it is said that it was one of his favorite training tools. He used it because it gave him incredible grappling strength, grip strength, and rotational power. He could easily throw people over his shoulders. The Great Gama never lost a fight.
To this day, Gada swings are used in Pehlwani wrestling practice on a daily basis, with Gadas as heavy as 50kg even.
Over the past two decades (or so) the Gada has been revamped into the increasingly popular Steel Mace. It is essentially the same tool in terms of functional integrity, yet it is easily mass-produced and more durable as it is made of steel.
Steel maces and Gadas are odd-looking tools that grab attention. The steel mace is very weapon-like in both looks and the ways it is used. This training tool offers many benefits. MMA athletes and trainers have been incorporating steel mace exercises into their training for years now.
UFC fighters such as Cowboy Cerrone can be seen using the steel mace in training.
Now, more and more MMA athletes are using steel maces to enhance their fighting ability, and there are plenty of great reasons why...
The steel mace is a super-effective strength, conditioning, rehab, prehab and all-around functional fitness tool.
Below we are going to give you 10 undeniable reasons why you should incorporate steel mace training into your MMA workout regimen.
This is something that is extremely underrated in many sports, even combat sports, which is a surprise. Working on rotational strength and efficiency can make a huge difference to your fight game…
During a wrestling or MMA match, you need powerful rotational force to be able to throw an opponent who, of course, is resisting being thrown. There are many steel mace exercises that train you through the transverse plane of motion, which is key to developing incredible total upper body rotational power. We are talking about hips-to-core-to-shoulders complete rotational strength and efficiency.
Note: The ability to create rotational force is equally as important as the ability to resist it, and steel mace exercises are essential for both.
The steel mace is an excellent implement for increasing strength and mobility in the upper body, especially the core and shoulders.
Movements like the 360 and 10-to-2 will allow MMA athletes to develop strength through a wide range of motion. This trains the athlete to control heavy loads in awkward positions.
MMA athletes, wrestlers, and grapplers are often in uncomfortable positions, and they need to remain strong in those positions.
Steel mace exercises access multiple ranges of motion in the shoulder girdles and rib cage, which not only builds strength in these positions but also helps reduce the chance of injury.
One of the major benefits of steel mace training is that it develops incredible strength in the fingers, hands, wrist and forearms. All the areas needed for bone-crushing grip strength.
The steel mace is tough on the grip because it has a long lever and an offset weight that displaces the weight from the palm of your hand, requiring you to stabilize the mace, which in turn works your grip strength like no other. Most other training equipment places the weight evenly in the palm of your hands, so your grip strength won’t be challenged as much as it is when the weight is disproportional like the mace (and also steel clubs).
Moreover, steel mace exercises can greatly develop wrist mobility and strength through pronation, supination, flexion and extension movements.
Grip strength and wrist mobility are crucial for MMA athletes. It can mean the difference between having control or being on your back, smashing someone's face or breaking your hand/wrist, or tapping an opponent out or them getting free.
Grip strength is important for stand up game and on the ground game.
One hundred percent of grappling matches are won by the person who is in better control. Control comes from proper body positioning, good anticipation of the opponent's next move, and grip strength. Whether you are fighting Gi (allows you to grip clothing, in jiu-jitsu) or no-Gi (MMA bouts are no-Gi of course, and it mainly requires control of the wrists), the success of the match mainly comes down to who wins the battle of the grip. If you are on the ground and you aren’t gripping your opponent, that means you have likely given up your back…or worse, you’ve been choked unconscious.
Put simply, If you have a weak grip, you grappling game will be trash...and so will your stand up game.
If your hands or wrist can’t withstand the punishment of punching your opponent, you have a good chance of breaking your hand. It’s also said that a weak grip makes for a weak punch. If you want knockout power, grip strength is going to be vital.
Moreover, there are other stand-up skills that require grip strength, such as Thai clinches, overhooks, and many more. You are going to need strong hands to execute these techniques effectively.
Grip strength is one of the most important attributes in an MMA athlete. The competitor with the stronger grip always has the advantage.
A steel mace is one of the best tools for developing grip strength. What’s more, it will give your grip strength the endurance it needs to go on. So you can keep that vice-grip locked for a much longer time.
Do 5 minutes of 360s and see how your hands feel. You’ll immediately understand why it’s an incredible tool for grip strength.
More Steel Mace Grip Strength Resources:
When it comes to conditioning tools, the steel mace is one of the best. Steel mace circuits and complexes will get you into incredible shape.
It’s a great tool for improving cardiovascular endurance…
If you pick the mace up and do complex training rounds of 5 minutes on a regular basis, you will definitely have more stamina in the ring. It sh*ts on treadmill cardio... but that's not to say you shouldn’t do road work.
We love doing steel mace complexes/HIIT workouts for cardio-type training. It's great because it combines cardio with muscle endurance and strength, especially for the upper body, which is essential when it comes fight time.
One of our favorite steel mace conditioning exercises is steel mace tire slams.
Over the past decade, sledgehammers have been very popular in MMA training for building strength and conditioning. Now, with the steel mace gaining traction in the West, people are replacing sledgehammers with steel maces. Many fighters do tire slams as it is incredible for full-body conditioning.
Take your tire workouts to the next level with the steel mace.
Steel maces are better than sledgehammers for slamming tires for many reasons.
Two quickly name two reasons why…
One, you can slam your heart away without having to worry about hitting the implement on a certain angle. The mace has a spherical head so you can hit it anywhere. With sledgehammers, you need to hit it in the right spot or things can get wonky, which can lead to injury in your wrists, elbows or shoulders.
Two, the handle is longer and thicker, which allows you to produce more force and it trains your grip better. Moreover, the handle has knurling on it, so it won’t get as slippery as you work up a superb sweat.
Read more about why a steel mace is the best tool for tire slams. We also show a few ways you can do mace tire slams.
The steel mace will train your muscle endurance like it’s nobody’s business.
Create a complex and run through it for a good 5 minutes or simply do 360 swings for 5 minutes straight without putting the mace down. You will be developing muscle endurance that athletes dream of.
The longer your muscles can work at max efficiency the better. This one is pretty straight forward.
Kinesthetic awareness and proprioception can be as basic as having a sense for movements such as walking, brushing your teeth, using a fork...all things normal people have no issue with...
But, this same sense for movement and awareness of our body can become much more advanced. Professional athletes have a higher level of kinesthetic awareness. This means they have better balance, coordination, agility and overall mind to muscle connection.
Now, here’s where the steel mace comes into play. The steel mace is a remarkable tool for developing balance, coordination and agility.
The offset weight of the mace will challenge your stability, which in turn will give you supreme core stability and strength, which is an essential aspect of having balance and coordination.
What’s more, when you are swinging around an awkward tool like this, in multiple positions and joint angles, you will be improving your proprioception, which is also essential for overall body awareness.
Steel mace exercises connect your stance to your midline. It drills this into your mind and movements by nature of design and functionality.
Steel maces (as are steel clubs) is considered a proprioception tool, so this is without a doubt one of the best training implements to develop these essential skills that you will need during an MMA bout.
Your core connects your upper body to your lower body. It works as one unit, tightening up to protect your body, and it transfers force from your lower body to your upper body during movements like striking. A strong core is one of the most important factors for transferring explosive power. And explosive power is essential if you want to win fights.
Many people use the steel mace as their go-to core tool, and it makes perfect sense, as the design of the mace makes it so you have to engage your core no matter what exercise you are doing. For example, when holding the mace horizontally, the offset weight will challenge your core stability, forcing you to engage your core to remain upright.
Moreover, the steel mace is great as it offers multiplanar training. This means you can target your core through all planes of motion. One of the most important planes of motion when fighting, and in the real world in general, is the transverse plane - rotation and anti-rotation movements. The steel mace is extremely effective at working you through the transverse plane. This is one of the main reasons people use maces as a must-have core tool.
Check out our 17 killer core exercises using the steel mace. These exercises are going to be great for MMA athletes looking to give their core strength a boost.
The steel mace won’t get you massive like barbell training will, but it will lean you out, and it develops strength while doing so.
For MMA athletes, it’s said that it's important to not get too bulky as that can affect stamina. The bigger guys typically gas out quicker.
What's more, some MMA fighters have that fatty look. Almost like they don’t train. These same guys can still kick ass, of course. However, not being lean doesn’t help their intimidation factor. With lean, mean muscles and vascularity, you can scare an opponent before the fight. Intimidation can be effective, and it is an attribute that we don’t underestimate when it comes to being fight-ready.
So, with steel mace training, you will be able to develop strength without getting too bulky and compromising your stamina during matches. It will impact your muscles by making them compact, dense, and lean. This is the goal and the ideal fighter physique.
Although we believe the steel mace is the best for enhancing performance, it plays an important role in protecting against or healing shoulder injuries too. When you think about it, this is just as much about sports performance as working on specific skills is.
The mace will help you strengthen your wrists, elbows, and shoulders, which are three very important joints that have a high risk of injury during MMA bouts.
360s are one of the best ways to develop strong stabilizer muscles and joints.
The steel mace builds incredible resiliency in your joints and strengthens your stabilizer muscles. Strong stabilizer muscles are essential for reducing the risk of injury to your joints.
Here is an example of how the steel mace can strengthen rotator cuff stabilizer muscles:
All in all, if done right, steel mace training will improve your mobility and flexibility while also strengthening your stabilizer muscles (which people often overlook), your core, and your grip. These are all crucial components of developing a body that is resilient to injury. MMA is a dangerous sport, so reducing the risk of injury is always key.
The steel mace will bring a new style of training to your life that is fun and exciting. The best kind of training is the one you want to do.
Also, steel mace training will bring out your “inner warrior”, as they say. It has a primal nature to it that works so well for the psyche of MMA athletes. You will feel like a warrior when training with this tool, unlike, say, dumbbells, and as an MMA fighter, you truly are a "warrior", so it’s perfectly fitting.
The steel mace is a tool that combat athletes all over the world are starting to use.
Each component that the steel mace provides to your training and physical fitness is necessary to ensure victory in a fight.
So, if you are looking to take your fighting performance to the next level, the steel mace is an implement that doesn’t waste any time. We highly recommend learning how to incorporate it into your MMA training.
Note: As many benefits as the steel mace can provide, if you do not perform the exercises correctly, you can potentially do more harm than good. So make sure you get your trainer onboard and you learn the movements correctly. Start with hand placements, grip orientation, starting positions, hand switches, then move into learning the exercises. Work from the ground up. Build a solid foundation for steel mace training, as this is a tool that has a learning curve.
Here is a link to our steel mace training guide. This will teach you everything you need to know about mace training. It goes through all the foundational work and then takes you from beginner to advance mace athlete. It has all types of exercises, videos, and methods for building workouts with specific purposes.
If you want a simple but effective run-through of the steel mace basics, this free resource is a great place to start your mace training as well.
Related: Steel Mace Basics
What size should you get?
Start with a lightweight mace. The 10LB mace is the best size to start with. If you are really well-conditioned, then you can go for the 15LB mace. The mace feels a lot heavier than it is due to it being such an awkward tool, especially for mace beginners.
You can always alter the difficulty of the mace by changing your hand position. The closer your hands are to the end of the handle, the weight will become more offset, which makes the movement harder. To make it easier, move your hands closer to the head of the mace. Being able to alter the difficulty with the same mace is great as you can challenge certain areas of your body differently all with one mace.
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