Steel Mace History

Steel Mace History: Ancient Weapon Turned Powerful Fitness Tool

August 24, 2019

What is a Mace?

The mace (or battle mace, bludgeon, club) is an ancient weapon. It has a long handle with a heavy head at the end, which made it great for swinging and smashing. Thus, inflicting serious damage on opponents during battle...

Nowadays, the mace is known for more than its bloody past. It is known as an incredibly awesome unconventional fitness tool...still made to swing around and smash things...but instead of heads, we smash tires now.

Before we talk about the modern, workout mace in detail, let's discuss the history of the mace. From its humble beginnings on the battlefield, to its connection with the Gods, to its first use as a fitness training tool.  

Steel Mace History

A weapon used by warriors, wrestlers and gods; the Gada A.K.A the Mace has been used in various forms for over 2,000 years. Most notably, The Gada was the go-to weapon of choice for Hindu well as Hindu deities.

It was the main weapon of Hanuman, the monkey-like deity who was so strong he could lift a mountain with one hand.

In fact, Five Hindu deities have been directly tied to the use of the Gada. That's how special the mace is in Hindu culture.

steel mace history

The Gada was used by Hindu warriors for centuries because of the damage it could inflict on opponents. It’s no wonder that the most feared Indian empires existed when the Gada was in its heyday.

To increase a warrior’s battle skills, the Gada was also employed as a training tool off the battlefield. The swinging motion when using it transferred directly to their battlefield prowess.

Now that’s what we call functional training!

history of steel mace

Mace - A Weapon Turned Fitness Training Tool

Maces were one of the first weight training tools ever used. EVER.

They are still used as an essential piece of equipment by Pelhwani wrestlers on the subcontinent of India.

Important Note:

We will call them Gadas in this respect as that is what Indians call them and they were the first to use them solely for fitness purposes.

Moreover, Gadas and steel maces (or macebells) are not exactly the same. A Gada is made with a long bamboo stick attached to a block of concrete. A modern mace, aka steel mace, is made of cast-iron and the head is welded onto the end of the hollow steel handle. The function is essentially the same, although steel maces are used in a more versatile way, but a gada typically has a longer handle and a bigger "head".

Gadas history

The above picture is a "Gada". And below is a steel mace (aka macebell).

steel mace

Moving on...

The most famous Pelhwani wrestler, The Great Gama who went undefeated in his 50 year wrestling career used the mace religiously during his workouts. Even Bruce Lee idolized the training methods and physical abilities of The Great Gama.

Today, if you travel to an akhara (gym) in northern India; expect to see a bunch of Gadas being put to use. After all, it is and always has been one of the most popular training tools for Pelwhani wrestlers.

the great gama

The Dawn of the Steel Mace

Although some people in western countries (and across the world) have been using a form of the mace for decades, it wasn't until about a decade ago that fitness enthusiasts from the West took inspiration from the Gada to create the modern steel mace, eventually popularizing it across the globe in a very short span of time. 

The steel mace is a more versatile, easier to mass-produce version of the Gada. And actually, it resembles the historical "weapon mace" more than a Gada does.

After many years of penetrating the fitness culture in the West, it is clear that the Steel Mace is here to stay thanks to popular trainers, fitness professional and athletes advocating its benefits. The steel mace community is very strong and tight-knit, welcoming all newcomers to the world of the mace with open arms (that includes maces of any shape, size and style)...

Why should I use the Steel Mace?

Steel Maces are the perfect tool for functional training and natural movement proponents because it provides one of the best full body workouts around.

Here are some of the main benefits...

Strong Shoulders

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 in at the gym.

When exercising with the Mace PROPER FORM is KING. In order to avoid any potential injuries make sure you start with a light weight first to master the movement before going up in weights.

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 while simultaneously improving the strength of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint.

Grip Strength Enhanced

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.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

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.

Total Body Strengthening

Exercises and movements using the Mace are almost entirely compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups within the same movement. While swinging the Mace you will be working out your whole upper body including your grip strength.

Increased Core Rotational Strength

The uneven weight distribution of the Mace activates your core in order to keep the Mace under control while performing swinging motions. Many Mace movements entail cross-body swinging movements that activate and engage the core especially the obliques.

Related: Top 9 Benefits of Steel Mace Training

macebell history

Who should use the Mace?

People looking to supplement their normal workout routines with an ancient time-tested method of full body training. Also, the Mace is great for people who love functional training as well as athletes that can transfer their training into their sport. 


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.

More Steel Mace Resources:

What size Mace should I start with?

Start small and continue progressing towards heavier weights as your form is perfected with strong joints and muscles. We recommend a 7, 10 or 15-pound mace.

Even the 20lb Mace can challenge some of the manliest of men. So, if you’re not the aforementioned strongman then you should start with a lower weight until you feel comfortable to jump to the next size.

Related: What size mace should I buy?


Yes, we know there are tons of DIY Mace videos and blogs out there. We STRONGLY recommend buying a solid, welded Steel Mace that was manufactured for the purpose of rugged exercise programs.

Related: Adjustable vs Fixed Weight Steel Maces - Comparison

How often should I use the Mace?

Mace training is an amazing addition to your normal workouts or you could run through a circuit workout using only the Mace while performing over a dozen different movements. The Mace is a specialty tool but we believe it can be used for so much more. Be sure to follow us to see what’s possible to do using the Mace.

Get your Steel Mace now to be #WarReady.

steel maces


Now you have a little history of the Mace and why we believe it’s one of the best training tools available. This time-tested piece of equipment will give you a workout like you’ve never felt before. After your first few movements using the Mace you will see why this tool is perfect for functional training; it will make you feel Human again. Get ready to be the envy of your workout buddies, Maces are on the way. Make sure to check your inbox and follow us on social media to reserve your Mace, limited stock available.

Steel Mace Training e-Guide Available Now. 84-pages of exclusive steel mace training material - videos, fundamental movement tutorials, cues, flows, workouts, training system, and more. 

mace warrior

Want more fitness history? Check out the history of old-school fitness equipment by Jan Libourel.

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