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January 11, 2022
Do you have a steel mace - or have you been seeing people using a steel mace - and you are wondering...what muscles does the steel mace work, and more specifically, what muscles are worked by the swing movement (360s & 10-to-2s)?
It’s a great question, and being that the steel mace 360 and 10-to-2 are complex movements, we've dedicated this entire article to answering it.
The drawing below depicts the muscles worked, but if you want to read more about how these muscles are worked during steel mace 360s and 10-to-2s, keep reading on...
A steel mace 360 and 10-to-2 swing are definitely not something most people are used to seeing, let alone doing. A steel mace swing is an odd exercise for people, especially those with a long history of conventional - squat, deadlift, bench press - type training.
Of course, those same people who are doing 360s and 10 to 2s properly know it feels good, but truly understanding the mechanics can be confusing…
The first time I saw someone swinging a steel mace years and years ago, I thought to myself:
“First of all, what is that exercise?”
“Oh, it’s a steel mace 360, ok…???”
“Well, what are the benefits of this so-called steel mace 360 and what muscles are worked?”
Yes, I talk to myself…
So, after my initial ponderous fascination, I dug in. I got a mace and I learned as much as I could about steel mace training and my soon-to-be-new-favorite-exercises, steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s.
The more I swung, the more the mechanics made sense. The more I talked with others in the macebell field, the more I mastered the understanding and movement of this wonderfully beneficial exercise.
So, I'm here to share all of what I learned, which includes:
But first, let me give you a brief history of these two wonderful, fun, effective steel mace exercises.
By the way, I'm Sam Coleman, founder of SET FOR SET.
If you have a steel mace, you probably already know this. But for those who are new to the steel mace world, you might be surprised to know that the steel mace 360 and 10-to-2 exercise has been around for a long time. Albeit the steel mace is somewhat new; the original training tool is known as a Gada, which hails from the Indian subcontinent.
The mace as a weapon to the mace as a piece of fitness equipment:
Even before the Gada, maces have been around for basically forever. After all, a mace is a weapon, and one of very basic form. So you can imagine it has been around for thousands of years. People would swing a heavy mace club to bash people’s heads in as far as eight millennia ago. And in more recent history, it was an effective tool when up against heavy armor, where swords would fail to penetrate.
Although many ancient cultures used maces in war, the Hindu warriors are most notable for their use of maces. So much so that the mace is a weapon connected with one of their Gods, Lord Hanuman. It’s also used in ceremony, to this day.
During war, these warriors would swing maces around with incredible rotational strength. They were not likely doing 360s or 10 to 2s with it, but they were surely swinging it. They’d use heavier maces during battle training, as to build more strength so that a battle mace felt light when swinging it during war.
Throughout time, in the subcontinent of India, the mace as a weapon took an official new role. It became a medium used for fitness and sport-specific exercises…Clearly, people realized swinging around a long-handled, heavy-ended object was beneficial for functional strength, beyond just swinging the same object of a different weight to kill or bludgeon and demobilize…
So, from well over a hundred years ago, and to this day, it has been, and still is, the go-to training tool for Pelhwani wrestlers (north India). Most famously, the late, great “The Great Gama”, a Pakistani early-1900s Pelwhani wrestler, was known for his excessive use of the mace. He was said to be undefeated for his entire, lengthy, 52-year career. And he attributed a lot of his success to his utilization of the mace and mace 360s and 10-to-2s.
Note: The maces of India are called “Gadas” and are not made from steel. They are typically made using a long thin bamboo stick and concrete (or stone). The steel mace is a modern rendition, but the functionality is the same.
Now, we aren’t sure who invented the Mace 360 and 10 to 2 back over 100 years ago, but whoever did, they created an exceptionally effective exercise. The use of mace 360s and 10 to 2s for wrestlers is ingenious, and as we explain the benefits in a moment, you will discern why…And take note, it’s not just wrestlers who will benefit. Mace 360s and 10 to 2s are useful for anyone who wants to improve their fitness performance.
Although there are many exercises you can do with the mace (thanks to western fitness specialist understanding the versatility of this incredible training tool), the Pelwhani wrestlers use the “Gada” solely for 360s and 10 to 2s. Even many trainers in the west only use the mace for 360s and 10 to 2s. As this is the traditional exercise for this tool, and definitely the most effective use of the mace, bar none.
So, we are now going to explain the benefits and then we will finish by discussing the specific muscles worked and some tips for performing the 360 and 10 to 2 to maximum effect…
1. Builds Incredible Grip Strength
Think about it, you are swinging around a heavy object that is at the end of a long handle. Your grip is going to work like crazy trying to hold on and control it. Just try doing with a broom and you will see, then think about an added 10+ pounds (mostly at the end of it).
Grip strength is important for everyone. It will help you in all your upper body exercises in the gym, it will help you in sports like baseball, basketball, golf, etc., it will help you prevent injury, AND if you are a grappling fighter, rock climber, or pole dancer, it’s more than essential.
2. Core Strength & Stability
Just as swinging around a heavy object with a long lever builds grip strength, it also builds core strength too. As you are swinging it around your body, your core will be working to keep you stable, upright, not leaning, and squared forward. And although hanging leg raises are great for core, it won’t work the same areas of your core like the steel mace will (we will get into the anatomy and muscles worked further below, as mentioned).
Again, everyone needs good core strength and stability. Your core is the center of your universe. It will make you more powerful, explosive, stronger. It will help you prevent injury, especially as you get older, and especially for those who do any high impact sport. Your core is used for everything, so it should be one of your main focuses in fitness…yes, even over biceps ;)
3. Rotational Strength & Powerful Shoulders
A lot of rotational strength comes from a powerful core, so the above benefit plays into this one immensely. But there’s more to it. As you swing a heavy mace around during a 360 and 10 to 2, you will need to use explosive force to pull it back to your front, then stop it at the drop of a dime as it reaches parallel with your body in front of you. This creates immense torque, which is the force of rotation. Accelerating and decelerating this force is paramount to true rotational strength. This means rotation and anti-rotation my friends. A wham-bam combination…thanks mace 360s and 10 to 2s.
The Great Gama was known for throwing people around like rag dolls. Could he have done this without formidable rotational strength? Nope. But rotational strength isn’t just good for fighters (and clearly baseball, golf, tennis, and other rotational sports), rotational strength is important for…you guessed it, everyone! Rotational strength improves core stability, which again, can make you explosive in your movements. Furthermore, so many injuries both in and out of the gym are caused by a lack of rotational strength, most often a lack of anti-rotational strength. We all twist and turn daily, so why not do it with the utmost power and security.
4. Mobility & Posture
What’s more, if you are doing steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s properly, you will be building an ideal range of motion for sports and exercising. Your shoulders, lats, wrist, thoracic spine, will all open up. This is why it’s great for posture as well. When people learn how to do a 360 and 10 to 2, their backs, shoulders, and everything, just feels so much better. It loosens you up, in a fluid way, yet makes you tight, in the most powerful way - Best of both worlds. This is also vital for rotational strength, as you can imagine.
Note: 360s and 10 to 2s aren’t exactly the exercises for mobilization, but it will help you maintain mobility. It will keep your joints gliding smoothly...That said, if your mobility is lacking, you’ll need to work on that first.
Needless to say, mobility and good posture are crucial in sports and daily life.
These are the main benefits of 360s and 10 to 2s and not one of them is to be overlooked. We can talk about other benefits that steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s provide, but let’s just leave it at the main ones.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of steel mace training as a whole, definitely read our Top 9 Benefits of Steel Mace Training article as we go in-depth there.
If you want to share your thoughts on the benefits of mace 360s and 10 to 2s, feel free to leave a comment as I’m sure readers will be interested and it’ll be great to keep this discussion going.
Now, let’s get into steel mace 10 to 2 and 360 muscles worked…
A common question we get asked is what muscles are worked with the steel mace 360 and 10 to 2. So, let’s finally dig in.
First, steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s are total upper body exercises, so there’s going to be a lot of muscles worked. We will try not to overcomplicate this, and we are going to show you a picture of the muscular system for reference.
Below are the primary and secondary muscles worked during steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s.
We will list off all the muscles worked while providing a little information for a better understanding of when/how you should feel a specific muscle being activated.
Primary Muscles Worked:
The following stabilizer muscles will be fully engaged during 360s and 10 to 2s as well:
**Extra Benefit of Mace 360s and 10 to 2s: They build strong stabilizer muscles, which is why people often say heavy 360s and 10 to 2s greatly improve their lifts in the gym (deadlifts, bench, squat).
Secondary Muscles Worked:
Then, of course, you need to consider your lower body, which is going to be stabilizing you as well, as you are swinging around a heavy object. Without your lower body being engaged too, you wouldn't be able to manage a heavy 360 or 10 to 2.
Moreover, what’s nice about 360s and 10 to 2s is you’ll be getting a nice anterior stretch on the backside of the swing, but with that in mind, here are some important tips for 360 and 10 to 2s.
Mace 360 and 10 to 2 tips and best practices:
Decreasing the Difficulty: Remember, you can always make a movement easier by choking up on the handle. Keep your hands stacked, though.
Check out our extensive Steel Mace Training e-Guide. It will take you from steel mace beginner to pro in no time, and of course, it's going to teach you how to master steel mace swings in all forms.
We also have a Steel Mace Workout Package that makes for the perfectly weekly training routine.
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