October 04, 2021 5 Comments
If you are reading this, you likely saw someone using a steel mace and you thought “what exactly are the benefits of steel mace training”?
"It looks fun, but is it effective?" The simple answer is YES...but we want to tell you all about why it's effective and why it's become our favorite unconventional training tool.
So, in this article, we will go over what makes steel mace training so special, and then we list, in detail, the top 9 steel mace training benefits.
Steel Mace aka GADA
The mace has been around for a long time. It has been used by wrestlers for centuries, most notably in India. It goes even farther back as it was used in war, in various forms, for over 2,000 years.
Now, thanks to pioneers in the fitness industry, steel maces have made their way to the West, becoming one of the most notable modern fitness training tools for athletes.
Steel mace workouts are the epitome of functional training. Steel Mace Training improves sports performance like no other fitness tool.
Functional (aka Athletic) training purposely demands balance and body awareness during training through the use of unilateral exercises. Functional training requires controlled amounts of instability so that the athlete must react in order to regain their own stability.
By design, functional training makes use of single leg and arm movements that demand balance to properly develop muscles.
It’s the same concept and effect when training with the steel mace due to its uneven weight distribution.
The steel mace won’t allow you to cheat like many other tools. It won’t give you the option to move your upper body in a rigid fashion. Instead, you'll move in a fluid motion with your upper body as you begin to do things like trunk rotation or foot pivots. Steel mace training is great for developing good rhythmic movement, needed for actions like throwing a ball or sprinting. Steel mace training is also great for stability and coordination, so you can handle high impact without losing balance and momentum.
Beyond the numerous Steel Mace Training benefits, which we will get into shortly, the steel mace tool itself is also quite unique and extremely versatile.
The ability to alter the difficulty:
The beauty of the steel mace is that you can increase the difficulty by moving your hands closer together towards the end of the handle or make it easier by using a spread-out grip with one hand closer to the head while the other remains towards the bottom of the handle.
The ability to change the difficulty of a movement by simply altering your hand placement makes the Steel Mace an extremely dynamic and versatile training tool.
Note: If you are looking for the most versatile size go with a 10LB or 15LB mace. Another size may be better for you, take your current conditioning and strength into consideration when choosing your mace.
Creativity in Steel Mace Exercises:
The design of the mace allows for the possibility to create hundreds of different movements. Here are 66 steel mace swing variations, and believe us, we could have made up hundreds if time permitted.
Athletes and anyone looking to improve their sports performance would do very well using the mace.
Also, people looking to supplement their normal workout routines to improve their overall performance and physical capabilities.
Put simply, the steel mace is great for anyone who wants a full-body conditioning tool that is cost-effective, physically effective, and a lot of fun (albeit, a lot of the workouts are so brutal you might not call it fun until you are done, and you realized what you just accomplished).
The steel mace can be used in warm-up, workout, and recovery. So it's a super versatile piece of fitness equipment that anyone who works out could benefit from.
One of the most frequently injured areas of the body is the shoulder area. The reason being is that the shoulder girdle is the weakest joint in the entire human body. Many of us have suffered through shoulder injuries that make it difficult to perform daily tasks let alone get a good workout at the gym.
The 360 is an exercise that requires you to swing the Mace through a full range of motion. These types of exercises will increase flexibility and mobility while simultaneously improving the strength of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint.
360s and 10-to-2s will allow you to maintain good shoulder mobility. After months/years of practice, you will have the mobility in your shoulders that most overhead sports or MMA professionals strive for day in and day out. Injury prevention is key, and this is one of the most effective tools to prevent shoulder injury.
Stabilizer muscles distribute the work of training and movement throughout our bodies instead of placing all the stress on one or two primary movers/joints.
If stabilizers are weak, you risk creating muscle imbalances and increase the chance of injury.
Also, stabilizing muscles provide a solid foundation that your body needs for postural support. This is crucial for sports performance and ability to take pressure on joints (think pretty much every full-contact sport).
When was the last time you focused on building your grip strength? Do you dedicate enough time to working on your forearms and grip?
Perhaps one of the most useful things you can do that will impact your entire life is to improve your grip strength. Grip strength is a combination of finger, hand and forearm strength. You use your grip every single day from picking anything up, to opening that jar of pickles to carrying your groceries inside.
The non-proportional weight distribution of the Mace combined with swinging motions requires an extra strong grip. Since Mace training often is comprised of repetitive movements your grip strength will continue to improve as the weeks and months pass.
The steel mace engages forces and activates new ones through purposeful multi-planar movement. This is one of few tools that can work you through all 3 planes of motion in one exercise or complete movement.
The ability to effectively channel and absorb force is what healthy, performance-based movement is all about. Without a focus on all three dimensions of the body, this skill is incomplete.
One of the exceptional benefits of tire slams is the ability to train explosively through multiple planes of motion. The shock effect of slamming a training tool into a tire also aids in strengthening of tendons and joints. Training explosiveness and power in multi-planes like this will directly correlate to an improved performance in a variety of athletic activities.
The uneven weight distribution of the Steel Macebell activates your core in order to keep the Mace under control while performing swinging motions. Many Steel Mace movements entail cross-body swinging movements that activate and engage the core, especially the obliques.
One of the key factors in transverse training is that you will be more resilient to injury. Your core is your foundation and is the most crucial component of sports performance at it’s highest level.
A strong core = longevity.
Most injuries happen when accelerating or decelerating too quickly. Training in the transverse plane will help you to build a strong core and the ability to accelerate and decelerate at the drop of a dime - super important for athletes.
The Warrior's Way!
Warriors were essentially the athletes of their time, except small injuries were not an excuse for absence. An injury would mean weakness, not rest. A rotator cuff injury didn't mean retreat. It meant a disadvantage. So, they had to be extremely powerful and resilient through every muscle, joint and fiber of their body.
Warriors would be twisting and turning while holding a heavy load (a weapon) throughout the battle.
Their training would have to prepare them for this. They used heavy tools in practice.
These heavy tools prepared them in many ways. They needed incredible stability, rotational strength, and muscle endurance. They needed to be able to accelerate and decelerate with loaded weight. They needed balance, coordination and kinesthetic awareness. They needed to have strong, mobile joints.
Guess what? Modern day athletes and weightlifters need the same thing. Injury resilience is one of the most important aspects of fitness. To do this, we can look back to how these warriors trained, and we can look to modern day fighters like UFC athletes. What tools do they use? What training methods do they implement?
Our favorite tool to accomplish remarkable injury resilience is the steel mace.
Just as it’s good for rotational work. it’s an amazing tool for anti-rotational work. Which can directly apply to sports in terms of stability and the ability to be hit or take force from one side while maintaining balance.
The offset weight, again similar to unilateral training, will drastically improve your balance and coordination, something many conventional weightlifting athletes are missing as they mostly train in the sagittal and frontal plane with an even weight distribution (squats, deadlifts and bench). However, that’s not to say most conventional athletes don’t do moves like split squats or lunges, however, using an unconventional tool like the steel mace will really challenge and take your balance and coordination to the next level.
By swinging the Mace or performing other movements during a set period of time will boost your heart rate dramatically resulting in improved cardiovascular output. Just like the kettlebell, you can incorporate the Mace into HIIT training.
Exercises and movements using the Mace are almost entirely compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups within the same movement.
Here is the perfect example and it’s not a movement that most would consider “full-body” but it is when you are using a weight like and form like that.
The video below is of a GADA which is what the Steel Mace was designed after.
“I was so confused by his technique. Once I started looking at the small details I started realizing all of the "crazy" looking things were super purposeful and all adding to his swing. I have never seen anyone get that kind of quad engagement in a mace swing before! This cat is definitely at on a whole different level than anyone I've seen”
- Franken Legs (Instagram)
In reply to that comment Coach Rich Thurman said…
“There’s no other way than to engage the entire body. The notion that motion stops at the hips is only for specific objectives with specific loads. We harness power from the ground...Earth supplies us with power. We just need to learn how to harness it safely and effectively through our kinetic chain.”
In regards to muscle endurance, pick up a light mace, even a 7LB mace, and perform exercises for 10 minutes straight and tell us how you feel. We guarantee you will be testing your muscle endurance tremendously.
The steel mace can help fix any imbalances you might have.
Training with a unilateral weight like the macebell will keep your dominant side from assisting your weaker side. That is the purpose of functional training and what athletes focus on day in and day out.
Workouts and Exercises:
Once you get yourself steel mace, first things first, you need to learn the essentials. The two main movements for the steel mace, arguably the most fun and effective as well, are the 10-to-2 and 360. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many more steel mace exercises. As we said, there are endless possibilities for exercises.
The mace 360 and 10-to-2, a.k.a. Gada Swings, and are what the mace is really known for. These two movements (with variations of the two, such as one-handed, or switch-hand) are the main focus for how Pelwani wrestlers used the mace in their training.
More Steel Mace Resources:
Warning: When using the Mace to exercise make sure that you’re using proper form and a weight that you can completely control. Swinging a steel bar with a heavy steel ball at the end can be dangerous if not done correctly or if performed in an area that contains innocent bystanders.
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