steel mace complex

6 Steel Mace Complex Workouts for Next Level Conditioning & Fat Loss

July 01, 2019

If you want to become a lean, mean, aesthetic machine, we highly recommend adding steel mace complex workouts to your training regimen.

Steel mace complexes are very challenging. They are great for burning fat, increasing muscle endurance, and building lean muscle mass.

All in all, a steel mace complex is the ultimate full-body conditioning workout. 

**Update**: In addition to the 6 steel mace complex workouts, we added a new full-length mace complex workout that you can follow along to on your phone, computer or TV at the end of this article. So, technically this article is 6 Mace Complex Workouts (not full length) + 1 Full Length, Follow Along Mace Complex Workout! 

complex training

In this article, we will be covering the following:

  • What is a complex workout?
  • Benefits of complexes
  • When and how often should you do complex workouts?
  • Why the steel mace is a great fitness tool for complexes?
  • Full body, lower body, upper body, and swing complex workouts.
  • Different complex techniques
  • Ways to target muscle endurance, explosion, strength and muscle mass with steel mace complex workouts
  • Important tips for steel mace complexes.

So, without further ado. Let’s begin…


A complex is a series of movements performed one after the other without stopping.

In general, a complex will have 4-8 exercises of 8-20 reps, and each exercise will be strung together so there is no rest between transitions. This means you won’t put the weight down and you won’t stop until you’ve completed all the exercises and repetitions. On average, a complex set will take around two exhausting minutes.

Once you complete the series of exercises, you will take a rest (typically 1-2 minutes) then you will repeat the complex routine another 2-4 times.

There are different ways that you can format a complex, along with how much weight you should use, and this all depends on what your goal is.

Complex workouts are great for increasing muscle endurance, training strength-based cardio, burning fat, and building muscle.


  • Improves muscle and strength endurance
  • Burns fat
  • Elevates metabolism
  • Builds lean muscle
  • Boosts EPOC effect (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption)

Moreover, it is a great substitute for boring treadmill cardio workouts as it improves your cardiovascular health as well. Plus, you won’t risk losing muscle mass, like you do with cardio.

Complexes are one of the best kinds of training you can do for overall conditioning and athleticism.

When should you do complex workouts?

You have a few options for when you can incorporate steel mace complexes into your training program.

  • Replacement for the hamster wheel (aka cardio on a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or stairmaster)
  • Finisher at the end of a workout (ideal for the more advanced gym goers and athletes)
  • Stand-alone workout 2-3 times a week
  • Create an entire program around complexes (great for cutting season as you can lose the fat without losing the gains)
  • During a deloading week
  • When conditioning for sports

For the average person, the best option is to do complex workouts as a stand-alone workout or as a finisher a couple of times a week.

Doing complex workouts every day will be extremely taxing on your nervous system as the complexes are very high-intensity.

steel mace guide

Here are a few examples for how you can work complexes into your training plan…

Stand-alone options:

Split 1:

Day 1: Legs/Abs
Day 2: Chest/Triceps
Day 3: Back/Biceps
Day 4: Shoulders/Abs
Day 5: REST
Day 6: Lower Body-focused Complex
Day 7: Upper Body-focused Complex

Split 2:

Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: REST
Day 4: Full Body Complex
Day 5: REST
Day 6: Upper Body
Day 7: Lower Body

Finisher options:

Split 1:

Day 1: Upper Body/Complex Finisher
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: OFF
Day 4: Upper Body/Complex Finisher
Day 5: Lower Body
Day 6: REST
Day 7: Upper Body//Complex Finisher

Split 2:

Day 1: Legs/Abs
Day 2: Chest/Triceps/Complex Finisher
Day 3: REST
Day 4: Back/Biceps
Day 5: Shoulders/Abs/Complex Finisher
Day 6: REST
Day 7: Legs/Abs

As you can see, it doesn’t have to take away from your regular training plan. Complex workouts are efficient and effective.

Now, let’s say you only hit the gym 3 days a week. A good option could be to create your program around complexes.

For example:

Day 1: Full Body Complex
Day 2: REST
Day 3: Lower Body Complex
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Upper Body Complex
Day 6-7: REST

Do this for 4-6 weeks, and monitor improvements both aesthetically and functionally.


Our favorite complex tool isn’t a barbell (although barbell complexes are brutally great), they aren’t kettlebells (although that is top of the complex list for us), and they aren’t dumbbells…it is STEEL MACES.

complex workout

Why are steel maces great for complexes?

First, steel maces are a lot of fun and the movements are very dynamic. Moreover, they have an added component of core strength/stability and balance/coordination thanks to the unilateral, offset movements, which is essential for athleticism. 

Another thing we like is that you have a lot of versatility with steel mace complexes, in both technique and movements. 

Here’s Sam Coleman’s (CEO of SET FOR SET) typical split with steel mace complexes:

  • Monday: Lower body weight training and abs
  • Tuesday: Upper body weight training
  • Wednesday: Steel Mace Complex day (high intensity) and flexibility training
  • Thursday: Upper body weight training
  • Friday: Lower body weight training and abs
  • Saturday: Steel Mace Complex day (high intensity) and flexibility training
  • Sunday: REST

This is quite an intense schedule, but he has seen some incredible improvements in all aspects of his fitness with this training plan.

Try this for a couple of months and watch your endurance, strength and muscle mass skyrocket while your fat plummets to oblivion.

steel mace complex workout

Steel Mace Complexes

When it comes to steel mace complexes, make sure you are creating maximum tension. You can do this by pulling your hands away from each other on the lever ‘trying to rip the mace head off’.

Also, because most of the weight is in the head of the mace, whatever side the mace head is on is the working side. This means you need to train both sides evenly by switching the mace head to the other side. You can do this by working one side in a series then switching to the next side and doing the series again, or by doing both sides then moving to the next exercise in the series. You will see this in the workouts below - keep note of hand placement and hand switches, and which side the mace head is on. The main thing is that you are training both sides evenly, so keep this in mind.

There are two types of complexes that we focus on…

Steel Mace Complex Technique 1 (Series):

This first complex technique involves a series of exercises, which is essentially your typical complex. It will look like this...

Exercise A: 8 Reps (right side)
Exercise B: 8 Reps (right side)
Exercise C: 8 Reps (right side)
Exercise D: 8 Reps (right side)
Exercise E: 8 Reps (right side)
Exercise A: 8 Reps (left side)
Exercise B: 8 Reps (left side)
Exercise C: 8 Reps (left side)
Exercise D: 8 Reps (left side)
Exercise E: 8 Reps (left side)


Exercise A: 8 Reps (8 reps each side)
Exercise B: 8 Reps (8 reps each side)
Exercise C: 8 Reps (8 reps each side)
Exercise D: 8 Reps (8 reps each side)
Exercise E: 8 Reps (8 reps each side)

You do each exercise for the recommended reps then you rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat for another 3-4 sets.

A complex like this with 5 exercises will take around 2-4 minutes, depending on how you perform the exercises.

There are two ways to go about completing an exercise:

1. Dynamically/Speed - try to move through the exercise, with proper form, at maximum speed. This will train your muscles for quickness and explosion, and it is good for overall conditioning.

2. Maximum Tension/Slow - This one you move slowly through each exercise, focusing on creating maximum tension. This will train your muscles for endurance and will build lean muscle mass, and it’s going to be very brutal. This is the harder of the two in our opinion.

Steel Mace Complex Technique 2 (Sequence):

The second complex technique we do consists of a sequence of movements, similar to a yoga flow. So it will look like this...

Option 1: 

Exercise A: 1 Rep (each side)
Exercise B: 1 Rep (each side)
Exercise C: 1 Rep (each side)
Exercise D: 1 Rep (each side)
Exercise E: 1 Rep (each side)

Repeat the sequence for a total of 10 reps.

Option 2:

Exercise A: 1 Rep (right side)
Exercise B: 1 Rep (right side)
Exercise C: 1 Rep (right side)
Exercise D: 1 Rep (right side)
Exercise E: 1 Rep (right side)
Exercise A: 1 Rep (left side)
Exercise B: 1 Rep (left side)
Exercise C: 1 Rep (left side)
Exercise D: 1 Rep (left side)
Exercise E: 1 Rep (left side)

Option 3:

Exercise A: 1 Rep (left)
Exercise B: 1 Rep (right)
Exercise A: 1 Rep (right)
Exercise B: 1 Rep (left)
Exercise C: 1 Rep (left)
Exercise D: 1 Rep (right)
Exercise C: 1 Rep (right)
Exercise D: 1 Rep (left)

Really, the sequence can be designed however you like, so long as you work both sides evenly.

Aim for 10 total reps (for each exercise in the sequence), so essentially 10 rounds of moving through the entire sequence. This will take anywhere from 2-5+ minutes. Then, rest and repeat for another 3-4 times. 

    6 Steel Mace Complex Workouts

    The following steel mace complexes contain both complex techniques mentioned above - series and sequence.

    1. Steel Mace Upper Body Complex 

    2. Steel Mace Lower Body Complex

    3. Steel Mace Full Body Complex

    4. Steel Mace Swing Complex

    There are three ways to go about performing an exercise:

    • Slow and controlled. This will work your muscle endurance and coordination (kinesthetic awareness), and it is a great way to burn fat.
    • Explosive movements. Bruce Lee was a big proponent of doing exercises with weights at maximum speed. Try to move through the exercises explosively without sacrificing form. This will work your quickness and, of course, explosive power. It will also get your heart rate up big time so you can burn more fat.
    • Isometrics holds. Hold certain positions for 10 seconds then continue with the sequence/series. This is good for increasing strength. It is also good for muscle endurance, core stability and creating a solid foundation.

    5. Steel Mace Complex with Isometric Holds

    Can you build muscle with steel mace complexes?

    If you are looking to build muscle with steel mace complexes then you need to use a heavier mace.

    What size mace you should use to build muscle will depend on your conditioning level and what kind of exercises you are doing (i.e. upper or lower body focused).

    On average, for those who are well conditioned, if you want to build muscle doing mace complexes, you need to use a heavier mace (15-20LBS for upper body, and 25-30 for lower), and you need to increase the repetitions in the sequence. More time under tension with a heavier weight should allow you to increase muscle mass.

    6. Here is a video of a steel mace complex designed for building muscle.

    This is a 25LB mace and he is wearing a 20LB weighted vest

    Barbell Complex Workouts For Building Muscle:

    If you want to build some serious muscle with complexes, add some barbell complexes into the mix. They are good for building muscle if you use the right amount of weight. Again, it’s all about time under tension with the right amount of weight. Even 50% of your 1 rep max will allow you to build muscle. And when it comes to how much weight for barbell complexes, they say to look at your weakest exercise in the complex and base the weight off of that. So if you are doing front squats, stiff legged deadlifts, overhead press and bent over rows, your overhead press will likely be the weakest lift, so use a weight that is challenging for that lift, because if you use a challenging weight for say your stiff-legged deadlift, you obviously won’t be able to press it for the right amount of repetitions or even at all.


    The above workout by Paulina consists of 3 complexes, each done for 5 minutes, followed by a 3 minute finisher. The video is 45-minutes because not only does she take you through a 10 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down, but she also does movement prep before each complex so you know exactly how to perform the exercises before the complex begins. This is why we call it a class and what separates our full length workouts from others. 

    Here's a quick breakdown of the main part of the workout:

    Complex #1:

    45 Degree Lunge
    Overload Squat
    Ballistic Curl

    Complex #2:

    Uppercut Lunge
    Single Leg Deadlift

    Complex #3:

    Reverse Lunge
    Spiral Press


    The workout ends with a 3 minute finisher. The finisher is a 360 to Squat challenge. The challenge is simple, just do as many reps as possible in the allotted 3 minute time.

    Best Mace Size for Steel Mace Complexes

    On average, the best mace for steel mace complexes for an average male with good conditioning is a 15lb mace. Four of the workout videos in this article are utilizing a 15lb mace. When working through the long series of movements, it is definitely very challenging with a 15LB mace, especially if you are focusing on creating maximum tension.

    For women, a 10lb mace would be best.

    Use your judgment based on your own conditioning and what body area you are working.

    The most important thing is that you are able to do the exercises with good form, you don’t put the mace down during your complex, and it is challenging. So, test out the size. If it’s too light, move up in mace weight on the next series. You will figure out what size you should be using quickly.

    Important tips for Steel Mace Complexes

    • Maintain form and technique.
    • Use full range of motion.
    • Make sure you are training both sides evenly.
    • Build a rhythm. It will be challenging at first to remember the sequence complexes, so this will require some mental work while you are doing the complex. You can move slowly through the sequence until it becomes natural. Furthermore, practice the sequence then work this same sequence for a few weeks in a row. This will allow you to save time, rather than trying to create a new sequence every time. For the “series” complexes, it is much easier to keep the rhythm and not miss any specific movements.
    • Stay disciplined and finish what you started.
    • Push yourself to the limit. This type of training is high intensity.
    • Don’t do this kind of training every day. Just like HIIT, you should do this around 3 times a week.

    Give these steel mace complex workouts a try and let us know what you think in the comments below. if you have any questions, please feel free to email us.

    Where to buy a steel mace

    If you don’t have a steel mace, you can buy one from us online.

    7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30-pound maces for sale at SET FOR SET

    Learn More:

    84-page Steel Mace Training e-Guide - Must have for mace beginners.

    How to Flow with a Steel Mace

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