November 08, 2021 1 Comment
As you may or may not know, we’ve created a plethora of content for different steel mace workouts and specific muscle group exercises, yet we’ve never done an article specifically on the BEST steel mace exercises (in our book).
This article will focus on 16 of the most effective steel mace exercises. These are steel macebell exercises that we implement on a consistent basis, and many are great to use when performing steel mace flows.
**Update**: We've added even more exercises to this list. After we run you through the 16 essential steel mace exercises, we have a compilation video with 50 more steel mace exercises!
The exercises below all have a serious purpose to what the mace was actually designed for: offset, mobility, stability and muscle endurance training. Many of the exercises below utilize the mace from an offset position, whether that be your stance or how you hold the mace, as that is how the steel mace is truly the most effective.
These exercises will challenge core stability, improve metabolic conditioning, and enhance shoulder mobility.
The steel mace (aka macebell) is such a versatile tool that it can potentially be used in hundreds of ways. We see people creating new exercises using the mace on Instagram daily and it’s remarkable.
The mace is a great fitness tool that will allow you to switch up and expand your training. It will give you skills that most traditional weight training is lacking - stability, coordination, balance, mobility. It will train you in a unilateral manner, which is perfect for improving overall fitness and sports performance. If you’ve ever been an athlete, you know that there is a lot of unilateral training involved during practice. This is because it has a direct effect on your game-time performance, as most sports require balance while jumping or running from one foot to the next (usually in a nonlinear path).
A steel mace is a fantastic tool for athletes and it is soaring in popularity because of this. Gyms, training facilities, and Crossfit boxes across the nation are starting to implement mace training into their programs. It’s a no-brainer that if top athletes are using the mace, it would no doubt do you good too. With that being said, you must use the mace wisely, safely, and effectively. It has the potential to be your new favorite fitness favorite tool. It has the potential to improve you in ways that most are lacking. However, it also has the potential to injure you if you aren’t performing exercises correctly.
To make sure you don’t injure yourself or compensate by using the wrong muscles for an exercise, you need to understand the movement in its entirety. You need to know the movement pattern, the mobility it requires, and which muscles it is supposed to be working. For all of the exercises below, we will provide you with clear instruction on the form, along with a video to help you see how it’s done.
Looking at an exercise and trying to mimic it correctly is easier said than done. Most mace exercises require prerequisite practice moves and hand switches, along with copious amounts of repetitions to be comfortable performing that movement, especially before using it in a flow.
Train smart, not hard…
Actually, F that. Train smart AND train hard. There is no reason you can’t do both.
Hand switches are important to start with as it will give you a feel for the mace and the understanding of how you should be switching the mace from one side to the other, which you will be doing for many exercises using the steel mace. This is a big part of why the mace is such a dynamic tool.
The mace 360 is a foundational exercise, so it's going to be one of the first moves you'll want to learn. The following exercises are good practice moves to learn the 360. Once you master each of these movements, you can combine them to make a full steel mace 360.
The Pendulum is essential for improving the mobility in your shoulders which is necessary for swinging the famous mace 360. Not only is it essential for the 360, but it is going to help your shoulder mobility for many other exercises. The Pendulum is the basically the posterior portion of the 360 and 10-to-2 movement.
How to: Feet shoulder width apart; neutral spine. Carefully bring the mace behind your back so that the steel mace is centered along your spine. Your hands should be stacked and aligned with the bottom of your neck - the lower the better as more stretch equals more mobility. Swing the mace side-to-side. Use momentum to keep the flow of the movement. Your wrists can move with the motion. Keep your shoulders down and back, and your rib cage tucked. Try not to let your elbows flare. The mace should be swinging as close to your back as possible without hitting your butt.
The Metronome will give you the forearm strength and understanding of the movement pattern for the anterior portion of the 360 and 10-to-2.
How to: Feet hip-to-shoulder width apart; neutral spine. Keep your hands stacked and at your navel. Try to keep your hands as far down the mace handle as possible - the higher you place your hand up the handle the easier it will be. Move the mace from the 10 to 2 o’clock position. Keep your eye on the ball and the mace vertical and close to your body (without touching your body).
Practice each of these movements above for at least 100 reps before you get started.
Let’s get into the best steel mace exercises now…
Of course, the 360 is the best of the best mace exercises. It is a movement that has been used for over a century.
How to: Stack your hands near your navel and start with the mace at vertical front. Feet hip-to-shoulder width apart; neutral spine. Swing the mace over your shoulder at the 10 or the 2 (depending on how your hands are stacked - with hands right over left you should swing to your left; left over right means you swing to your right). Keep your ribs tucked, don’t flare your elbows and your hands as low as possible behind your head on the back part of the swing. When the mace reaches the opposite side pull it over your shoulder using the momentum (yet keep control), bring it back to the starting position. 1-second pause, keep tight, then repeat.
Tip for beginners: Choke up on the mace if it’s too heavy or if you want to practice the movement before lowering your hands to the bottom of the mace handle.
The 10-to-2 is another classic movement used by Gada swingers since the creation of this tool.
How to: Stack your hands near your navel and start with the mace at vertical front. Feet hip-to-shoulder width apart; neutral spine. Swing the mace over your shoulder at your 10 o’clock (hands right over left). Keep your ribs tucked, don’t flare your elbows; your hands should be low behind your head on the back part of the swing. When the mace reaches the opposite side pull it over your shoulder using the momentum (like a mace pullover from the prerequisite section) and pause once the mace reaches the 2 o’clock position. From here swing it back over that same shoulder, pretty much immediately, to the other side (the 10 o’clock) then again swing it back over your 10 continuing with this movement pattern.
How to: Starting with the mace in a side load position to your right side; your hand closest to the head of the mace should be facing up and your other hand further down the handle should be facing down. Lunge forward with your left foot; keep your back straight and upright as you would with any lunge. Joust the mace forward, return to the starting position.
You have two options for this exercises: you can perform this movement on one side for 10-20 reps, then do the same on the other side OR you can alternate sides with each rep using a joust switch.
Increase difficulty: Slide your top hand down during the joust portion of the movement and/or hold the mace offset (with your forward hand further down the mace handle); pause when you finish extending during the joust.
How to: Starting with your feet hip-width apart; neutral spine; hands facing up/up. Step forward into a lunge with the foot that is on the mace head side. Return to the starting position while simultaneously performing a front hand switch. Then lunge forward to the other side. Continue this alternation. The mace head should always be on the forward leg side.
Increase difficulty: Hold the mace offset for the entirety of the movement.
How to: Stack your hands at your navel as you would with a 360 (same starting position as a 360). Start by removing your top hand from the mace. Keep the mace centered, vertical, and at your navel. Perform a 360 with the same cues you would with two hands. Once your reach the starting position, pause and repeat.
How to: Start in a half-kneeling position. Keep your back straight and upright for the entirety of the movement. The mace should be in a side load position with the mace head facing backward. Both of your hands should be facing in. Press the mace up; keep the hand that is near the mace head in a linear path; this will cause your other hand to be on the opposite side in alignment with your ear. The hand near the mace head will be pressed towards the sky and your bicep will be in line with your ear on the working side. Return slowly to the starting position; repeat on the same side.
Note: Accelerate during the pressing portion of the movement and decelerate on the way down to allow yourself to keep tension for the entirety of the movement. Also, don’t lean to the working side; keep yourself upright and straight to work your core stability.
How to: Feet hip width apart. The mace should be in a side load position with the head facing backward. Both of your hands should be facing in. Step forward into a lunge with the foot that is on the opposite side of the mace load. Then step forward into a lunge with the alternating leg while simultaneously pressing the mace up, same as the previous uppercut movement. The hand near the mace head will be pressed towards the sky and bicep near your ear on the working side. From here step forward (or jump into position if you don't have space) so that you alternate your forward leg while simultaneously returning the mace into a side load bottom position. Repeat for as many reps as you’d like. This is a high-intensity exercise and it will really kick your ass.
How to: Same starting position as a Single Arm 360. Start by removing your top hand from the mace. In this case, if you are holding the mace with your right hand, you will swing the mace over your left shoulder at your 10 o’clock. Use the momentum of the mace when it swings behind your back (try to get your hand low towards your back for more stretch/mobility) pull the mace over at your 2 o'clock, hold it at that angle and position (your right hand should be close to your navel and the mace leaning towards your 2 o’clock; grab the mace with your left hand and repeat the opposite way.
How to: Stand with feet around 1 foot wider on both sides than shoulder width. Lateral lunge to the opposite side of the mace head. As you perform the lateral lunge, extend your arm straight towards the ground. When you return to the starting position, curl the mace in a straight motion back to Horizontal Bottom then perform a front switch and repeat the movement on the alternating side.
Decrease difficulty: Perform the movement on one side only for a set number of reps; instead of alternating with each repetition.
How to: Place the mace on the ground. Get into a plank so that your right hand is even with and above the end of the mace handle. Keeping your hips squared to the ground, use your right hand to pull the mace through and switch it so the mace head is on the opposite side and the end of the mace handle is even with and below your left hand.
How to: Feet hip width apart; hands facing up/up and mace horizontal at your navel. Get into a high hinge bent over position (don’t roll your back). Row the mace by pushing down and pull back to your navel in a linear path. The mace should stay parallel throughout the movement.
Decrease difficulty: Don’t hold the mace offset. Hold your hands closer to the head of the mace to make the movement easier.
How to: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the mace offset and horizontally at your chest (sternum level). Push your hips into the air using your glute muscles and keep your back straight and in alignment with your hips. Avoid arching your back. Squeeze glutes and lift hips towards the ceiling. Hold this position. As you hold this position, press the mace up as you would a decline chest press then back down. Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout its entirety.
How to: Hold the mace offset with your hand facing out towards the front while keeping the mace horizontal at sternum level. Your feet should be hip-to-shoulder width apart; with a neutral spine. Squat down while keeping the mace in that same position. As you come up from the squat, start to press the mace to the sky. When you reach the top of your squat your hands and mace should be extended above your head. Pause. Return the mace to the starting position and as your reach sternum level, repeat the movement. Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout.
How to: Get into a boxing stance; with an anterior pelvic tilt. For this explanation, let’s start with the mace to our right in a side load position. In a digging motion, bring the mace down then swoop it up and above your shoulders. As you are doing this step forward with your left foot, then your right. With each movement you should be stepping forward left foot then right foot (front foot then back foot), as you would if you were moving forward in a fight. Your back foot should never be parallel or past your front foot. Perform this movement on one side at a time.
Don’t have room to walk?
We recommend having a distance of 25 meters to walk down and then back on the opposite side. If you don’t have space, you can walk in a large circle or perform a regular Gravedigger (keep your feet planted).
How to: Start in a staggered stance; knees should be pretty much parallel with each other; feet hip-width apart; your back foot’s toes should be in alignment with your front foot's heel. Come down in your staggered stance, then as you press up with your body, uppercut the mace (as you would with all uppercut exercises in this article). In that same path of motion return back to the starting position and repeat.
Here's our SFS FIVE Steel Mace Workout Package (it's the perfect weekly routine):
If you are new to steel mace training, our Steel Mace Training e-Guide is a must-have (it'll take you from beginner to pro in no time):
**UPDATE - WE HAVE EVEN MORE STEEL MACE EXERCISES!**
Steel mace coach Scott Viala put together this video with 50 of his favorite steel mace exercises. Some of the exercises are the same but there are tons of new mace movements - advanced ones too! Bookmark this page so you can come back to pull from all this for your workouts later.
1. 360 (0:06)
2. One Hand 360 (0:26)
3. One Hand Reverse 360 (0:43)
4. 10 to 2 (0:56)
5. One Hand 10 to 2 (1:11)
6. 360 Squat (1:24)
7. 360 Reverse Lunge (1:48)
8. 360 Lateral Lunge (2:15)
9. 360 Press (2:32)
10. Ballistic Curl (3:00)
11. Alternating Back Row (3:11)
12. Alternating Back Row & Twist (3:28)
13. Offset Shoulder Press (3:52)
14. Offset Floor Press (4:05)
15. Skull Crushers (4:22)
16. Tricep Extensions (4:43)
17. Offset Bicep Curl (5:02)
18. Staggered Offset Row (5:24)
19. Advanced Push Up (5:38)
20. Mace Push Up (5:50)
21. Double Lunge (6:02)
22. Ballistic Curl Squat (6:18)
23. Ballistic Curl Reverse Lunge (6:34)
24. Uppercut Lunge (6:52)
25. Lateral Lunge (7:08)
26. Alternating Lateral Lunge (7:19)
27. Offset Deadlift (7:32)
28. Staggered Stance Offset Deadlift (7:57)
29. Overhead Reverse Lunge (8:17)
30. Barbarian Squat (8:34)
31. Thruster (8:49)
32. Deadlift & Reverse Curl (9:06)
33. Squat & Floor Press (9:30)
34. High Plank Row (9:40)
35. High Plank Lever Row (9:52)
36. Row Rotate & Press (10:04)
37. High Plank Drags (10:29)
38. Press Swing Curl (10:41)
39. Press Rotate Curl (11:01)
40. Row Clean Press (11:28)
41. Kneeling Row Clean Press (11:48)
42. Lateral Press (12:12)
43. Alternating Lateral Press (12:29)
44. Mace Strike (12:45)
45. Grave Digger (12:57)
46. Overhead Sit Up (13:10)
47. Figure 8 (13:22)
48. One Hand Figure 8 (13:50)
49. Reverse One Hand Figure 8 (14:09)
50. Overhead Toss (14:27)
If you have questions about steel mace training, please feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you!
Our goal is to continue helping the world (literally, we serve people from all over the globe) with mace training and we hope this article is of help to you in your mace training. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. If you have exercises you’d like to share, tag us on Instagram (we repost!) AND leave a comment with a link to your Instagram post in the comment section below. If we have people leaving comments linking to mace exercises they’ve created in the comment section, this post will be on a whole other level! That would be truly amazing. It’s all about the mace community for us. We love the mace community and we want to hear from you!
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