May 11, 2019
Do you want the swiftness of John Snow? The unilateral strength of Jamie Lannister? The power of Brienne of Tarth (Knight of House Tarth)?
Well, we have the perfect warrior workout to achieve Game of Thrones strength, and all you need is your body and a steel mace.
Are you ready for battle?
The mace, which is a bludgeon, is an ancient weapon that was used in numerous civilizations, dating back as far as eight millennia. The mace is a blunt weapon and it was used to deliver powerful blows. It came in a variety of designs and sizes. It was also a great training tool for warriors, to develop rotational strength and shoulder power for battle.
The modern day steel mace
The steel mace is an unconventional fitness tool which is based off of this ancient weapon. It’s essentially the same thing, minus any sharp spikes, and depending on what size you use, heavier than a mace that was used in battle.
Is there any other fitness tool that has more warrior status? Kettlebells, battleropes, and sandbags are cool - military style - but they were never weapons. So, if you want to train like a warrior, and get real fitness results, there’s no better equipment than steel maces.
Thus, we believe steel maces are perfect for a Game of Thrones Workout
Steel maces will give you The Mountain grip strength, Arya balance and coordination, Tormund Giantsbane rotational power, Hound shoulder strength, Khal Drogo core stability, and you will look The Night King badass when doing it.
The steel mace is the ultimate unconventional upper body training tool.
We’ve put together a GOT Workouts for all our Game of Thrones fans out there. The movements are not extremely advanced but the workout is brutal. So this workout can be done by anyone who has a good grip of the steel mace basics and has good conditioning.
Workout Type: AMRAP (As Many Round As Possible)
The great thing about an AMRAP workout is that no matter what level of fitness you are, you can do this. This is because you control how many rounds you will complete. Therefore, you can make it as intense as you want.
For beginners, you may only complete three round. If you are in great shape, you may complete more than 6. If you can do either workout for a total of 45 mins, you are a ferocious beast worthy of the throne.
Remember, push yourself if you want to be GAME OF THRONES War Ready.
Equipment: Steel Mace (men: 15-20LB mace recommended ; women: 10-15LB mace).
Time: Until the battle is won (as many rounds as you can).
Target Muscles: Full Body (with emphasis on upper body strength and endurance)
Structure: Complete each exercise for 45 seconds. Rest 10-15 seconds in-between exercises and 30 seconds in-between rounds. Make sure to target both sides equally for exercises that target one side.
We do a dynamic warm up which involves some bodyweight stretches and exercises. Make sure you do this before starting the workout as to prevent any injuries. What they don't show or talk about in regards to battles and war is, warriors always warm up.
Exercise 1: Stab and Move (Moving Jousts)
Exercise 2: Moving Through Battle (Uppercut Lunges))
Exercise 3: Handle Your Sword (10-to-2)
Exercise 4: Bury 'em (Walking Grave Diggers)
Exercise 5: Bend the Knee (Half-Kneeling Uppercut)
Take a 2-5 min rest before starting the burnout workout
Choose 3-4 exercises from the advanced mace burpees video. Do AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) for both exercises. Do them one after the other. When you finished all the exercises you’ve chosen, then you are finished!
Other Steel Mace Workouts:
Steel Mace Training e-Guide: Go from beginner to advanced mace swinger using our 84-page steel mace training guide - It has everything you need to know and tons of tutorials.
May 08, 2019
Steel maces are incredible unconventional workout equipment for full body conditioning. There are tons of benefits to gain from steel mace training.
Steel mace training is not only about HIIT...or shoulders and core.
With steel maces, you can target each individual muscle group, along with smaller muscle areas that are often neglected, extremely effectively.
Steel Maces - or Macebell, Maceball, Exercise Mace, and even Mace Stick, as they are also referred to - are great for targeted exercises, and we are here to show you how.
At SET FOR SET, we break steel mace training down into 6 Pillars, as taught in our Steel Mace Training e-Guide, because the steel mace tends to be most effective when performing compound movements. Moreover, most mace exercises are compound movements that involve multiple muscle groups.
SET FOR SET’s 6 Pillars of Steel Mace Training:
Even though this is our method for steel mace training, for the purpose of this article, we will be demonstrating how to use the steel mace to target muscles in a more traditional manner, of which the conventional fitness world is used to.
We are going to show you how to hit each of these muscle groups using a steel mace.
We often like to mix in unconventional training/tools during conventional workouts (i.e. strength training days). The mace is a great training tool to use for supersets during traditional workouts like chest and back day, leg day, or any other split - i.e. upper/lower.
You can superset them or add them into the routine as you see fit.
For example, steel mace targeted exercises for burnouts are great. You could do a steel mace leg targeted exercise after a set of squats to further fire up those quads and glutes.
Not only is using a mace a fun way to mix things up when it comes to working out in a conventional way, a steel mace is super effective and will work those same muscle in a different way, with a different dynamic. It also keeps your heart rate up during your workout so you can burn more fat.
Plus, you will be adding a much needed athletic, functional dimension to your typical conventional workouts this way, as the steel mace requires stability, similar to unilateral training.
So, when using the mace as a supplemental tool during a traditional workout, it makes sense to perform targeted exercises.
At SET FOR SET, we use the mace on it’s own for full-body metabolic conditioning, along side other unconventional tools for HIIT training, during warms ups before strength training, AND we love to use maces during traditional strength training days to break things up and add that extra dynamic.
Mix with Strength Training Days:
Mix targeted mace exercises into your strength training day splits - i.e. on Leg day, perform a few of the steel mace leg exercises in between sets, as supersets, or as sets of exercises on their own.
Mace ONLY - using a traditional method:
You can use only maces and your bodyweight to make an entire workout in a traditional manner. i.e. Chest/Back Day - Just as you would with dumbbells and barbells.
Burn-out (after workout):
After a traditional, conventional style strength training work, use a series of targeted exercises (the same muscle group you worked that day) to do an HIIT-style burn-out. Kill the end of your workout, and that muscle group, with High Intensity Targeted Mace Exercises
Use a mace to warm up the specific muscle group you intended to workout on any particular day. A light mace, like a 7LB, 10LB or even 15LB mace is great for this.
It’s up to you!
Use your creativity. The mace is portable and has many uses and implementations. So, use the targeted exercises below in any way you see fit. Have fun with it! Get warrior-minded with it! Viking status. Kill it!
Having only one steel mace to workout with is perfectly doable, but it’s best if you have a range of mace weight sizes so you can maximize strength, endurance, and hypertrophy for each targeted mace exercises.
i.e. Mace Bicep Exercises will require a lighter weight than Mace Leg Exercises.
So, for each exercises, use your own discretion on the weight you choose. Challenge yourself.
The great thing about the mace is, due to the nature of its design, you don’t necessarily need a heavier or lighter mace. Depending on how you grip the mace, you can increase or decrease difficulty for most exercises. This is because you can make the mace’s weight more or less offset. By doing this, you place more weight on the side you are working, and you will also need more stability, which challenges your muscles in a unique way.
So, if an exercise is too easy or difficult with the mace weight, try gripping it differently...OR go up or down in steel mace size.
We sell 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30-pound steel maces, so there is a wide range of mace weights to choose from.
Now, let’s get started. Be sure to read the tips at the end of this article.
Note: We chose mace exercises that primarily target one muscle group. There are tons of other mace exercises in our database which target multiple muscle groups. We tried to get specific with the ones we chose for this post.
Remember, if some of these exercises are too difficult, hold the mace with your hand closer to the ball of the mace. This will make the movement less offset, which is easier.
LAST NOTE: Traditional bodybuilding routines often lack exercises in the transverse plane of motion. Training in the transverse plane is essential to being truly fit. All three planes of motion must be worked to achieve all-around better performance and a solid body. Thus, some of the exercises below are going to work targeted muscles through the transverse plane.
FURTHERMORE, essentially every exercise below will target your core as you need to maintain stability and keep upright. The mace is a fantastic tool for core strength and core stability.
Push up on the ball
Offset Presses (variation 1)
Offset Presses (variation 2)
Chest Pull Overs
Split Stance Side Row
Offset Overhead Press
Single Arm 360
More Steel Mace Exercises:
Side Load Reverse Lunge
More Steel Mace Workout Resources:
Overhead Tricep Extensions
Overhead Tricep Extensions (One Arm)
All the exercises in this Killer Core Workout are listed in the Youtube video's description.
Tips for when the mace is held in a horizontal position:
Related: More Tips on Steel Mace Training
We will be updating this article periodically to add more exercises to each muscle group. Stay tuned. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Steel Mace Resources:
Want in-depth training and an exclusive guide to training others with a steel mace? Check out our 84 page steel mace training e-guide. It has everything you need to go from beginner to mace master.
May 05, 2019
The steel mace is one of the most versatile unconventional training tools in the game. There are literally hundreds of exercises (with plenty of variations) that you can do with a steel mace. There are also many ways you can incorporate the steel mace into your training.
But you are probably wondering where to start. You are probably thinking "How do I use a steel mace? It's a lot harder than it looks!" Don't worry, young grasshopper, we got you.
This article has you covered with the basics. Learn everything below and you will be on your way to mace mastery.
When you first start mace training, it’s essential that you learn the basics so you can build a solid foundation, reduce the risk of injury, and maximize the results. Once you learn the basics, you will be able to rapidly progress to more advanced movements, and you can experience all the benefits the mace has to offer.
There are countless regression and progression exercises to transport you from a beginner to advanced mace user.
The great news for beginners is that even at the most basic level of mace training, you will see some fantastic results - such as improved muscle endurance, muscle strength, metabolic conditioning, core stability, balance, coordination and more…
This post was created to serve as your all-encompassing guide and resource to the Steel Mace Basics.
We know know a lot of people new to mace training who end up getting discouraged when they realize it’s a lot more difficult to use a mace than they thought.
The fact of the matter is, there is a pretty steep learning curve with mace training. That being said, there is a learning curve for all of fitness. The great thing is, once you get the basics down, you will rapidly develop your mace skills.
We are here to help.
We will go through and provide examples via links to other in-depth resources that we've made on the following:
If you are just beginning your steel mace training journey, this article has everything you need to get started and keep busy for at least a couple of months. When you master everything in this article, you can move on to more advanced mace exercises and begin experimenting with the mace in creative ways, like performing difficult mace swing variations and building 4+ movement flows/complexes.
Note: It's important that you know basic fitness movement patterns before adding any load to your movements. This article assumes that you are experienced with bodyweight movements at a minimal.
Let’s get started…
Before you start performing steel mace exercises, it’s important that you understand how to hold the mace and which positions to start from. When watching exercises online, always pay attention to hand placement and starting position. How you grip the mace (i.e. palm up, palm down) and the position of the mace (i.e. mace ball forward or back) can make a big difference to the effectiveness of the movement.
Here are some of the most common hand placement and starting positions (aka Ready Positions) that you should learn.
Hand Switches are the next step after Ready Positions. Many mace exercises are dynamic, and will require you to switch how you are holding the mace to get into a new position or to change the mace head to the other side (i.e. left to right) so you can work both sides of your body.
Learning Mace Hand Switches is essential to mace training. Here are the most common hand switches that you will need to master from the very beginning.
Note: there are also advanced hand switches that you can learn later on after you master the mace basics.
The 360 and 10-to-2 are the two main movements for steel mace training. They are the exercises the mace was designed for. They are what bring most people to steel mace training. 360s and 10 to 2s offer incredible benefits to all-around performance in fitness and well-being.
They are also one of the most difficult moves to learn. These are the exercises people have most trouble with. That being said, they are basic mace movements, as you can perform more advanced swings like single arm 360 and 10 to 2s.
The good news is, there are a few practice moves that will help you master the 360 in no time - What muscles are worked during steel mace 360s?
There are 4 exercises that we use to teach people how to swing the 360 and 10 to 2 movement to perfection. Once you learn each of the 4 movements, you will learn how to piece them together. Then, you can finally start swinging the 360 and 10 to 2 properly.
All of this education is found in our 4 mace 360 practice moves post. Here is a quick video of all 4 mace 360 practice moves.
Now it’s time to start performing all types of mace beginner exercises. Here we will provide you a wide range of exercises that follow our 6 Pillars of Steel Mace Training - Swing, Push, Pull, Squats, Lunges, Core - so you can target your full body using the steel mace.
Related: Mace Beginner Workout
At SET FOR SET, we recommend 5 Steel Mace Training Methods. Each of the 5 methods provides a unique way to build a ferocious steel mace workout.
The 5 methods are:
Each day you can choose a different method or you can focus on one method each week. It's up to you. All the methods are effective and efficient. Moreover, each offers a different end goal, like building muscle, endurance, burning fat, etc.
Use these 5 mace training methods on your way to mace expertise (this link explains each method in more detail).
The mace is a great tool for HIIT training. If you just finished a workout from your typical training regimen, it would be extremely advantageous to do a burn-out session with a steel mace. The best way to do this is with mace complexes. What's more, mace complexes can make up an entire workout, and you can do this literally anywhere your mace is allowed - home, outside at park, gym, etc.
We often do two-a-days or we need to get a quick workout in before getting back to our busy schedules, and a mace complex HIIT workout is a favorite to accomplish this.
What is a mace complex?
A mace complex is a sequence of movements using the mace. So for beginners, it will combine a few individual mace movements into one big movement. It’s important to understand hand switches and the pattern of the exercises if you want to make a smooth complex that flows well. You want to piece together movements that make sense. It’s not difficult to do this, but it does require some thought beforehand.
How to create a mace complex?
Move through a few beginner exercises slowly, piecing them together, and see if it flows nicely. When you create a complex, master it, and then start using it for an HIIT workout.
Mace Complex Workout Example - Using 2 Complexes:
Complex 1 - 5 minutes, non-stop.
Rest 1 minute
Complex 2 - 5 minutes, non-stop.
Rest 1 minute
Complex 1 again - 5 minutes, non-stop.
Rest 1 minute
Complex 2 again - 5 minutes, non-stop.
That’s a brutal workout, all done in 23 minutes (not including warm up and cool down).
Remember, always move through the complexes with proper form. Slow is steady. Keep the tension. Move with intention.
This is how it’s done…
3 Movement Mace Complex
If you want to learn everything in greater detail PLUS learn intermediate exercises, advanced exercises, complex steel mace flows, and various mace workouts, all of which will take you from a beginner to expert mace trainer in no time, get our 84 page steel mace training e-guide. Not only will this e-guide teach you how to use the mace at an expert level, it will teach you how to teach others as well.
After you learn everything in this guide, you can do so much with the mace. Check out our 66 mace swing variations to give you an idea of just how much.
If you have any questions regarding mace training, please feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to help you along your mace training journey.
Battle on, and remember, you don’t have to get ready when you are #AlwaysReady
May 02, 2019
The answer gets deep, though.
It really depends on what you are looking to achieve. What are your goals?
Steel mace training has tons of benefits, which you can read all about in that link. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to assume you are intending to find out if it works to get Shredded and Build Muscle - Hypertrophy. Mass. Beastly.
The short answer is an unequivocal YES.
That being said, it all depends on how you use the mace. Just like conventional bodybuilding, if you aren’t doing the exercises properly, not eating or sleeping well, and you aren’t training consistently, you will lack results.
If you train hard and smart, the steel mace can get you in incredible shape.
In fact, you can get all the fitness benefits you dream of with steel mace alone ( bodyweight exercises included).
Note: For best physique results, it would be advantageous to use other unconventional tools as well. You could get yourself a mace or two (or three) and a couple kettlebells, battle ropes, and a sandbag, and you’d have everything you need for amazing physique results...if you can, some conventional strength training (squats, deadlifts, and bench) would be great to add to the mix on a regular basis too…Not only would you be able to build muscle and get shredded, your all-around performance in both sports and daily life would boot tenfold.
Now, we are going to discuss everything below as if you plan to only train with steel maces (however, the same applies when you have other unconventional training equipment in your arsenal too, of course).
We are going to answer only two questions (and put aside all the other great benefits of training with a mace):
Can a steel mace help me build muscle?
Can a steel mace get me shredded?
Not only are we going to answer these questions succinctly, we are going to show you real-life examples of people on Instagram who use steel maces to get ripped and build muscle.
When it comes to conventional bodybuilding, doing 60-70% of your 1RM for 6-10 reps is proven to be the most beneficial for building muscle mass. That being said, this doesn’t apply to steel mace exercises as you have nothing to gauge what your 1RM would be and it doesn't even make sense in terms of mace training. Steel mace training, and unconventional training in general, is a totally different beast of fitness.
Building muscle requires time under tension.
So, can you build muscle using a steel mace. Yes, you can. With a heavy steel mace and an understanding of muscle tension, you absolutely can. You won’t become super huge like you can if bodybuilding properly, but you surely can put on some mass.
Related: Should I buy a heavy macebell?
Think about bodyweight training and calisthenics, do those guys have muscles? YES they do. They have those tight dense type muscles. If bodyweight exercises can build muscle, then surely a weighted tool (i.e. a steel mace) can too.
Related: Skinny fat
If you are skinny or skinny fat, you will see some serious results with steel mace training.
If you are already quite muscular from years of conventional training, you will be able to maintain that mass, and your muscles will become more solid. The type of training that takes place when using a steel mace differs from conventional bodybuilding. It makes you more solid and dense rather than blowing you up.
What's more, due to the nature of mace exercises, and how they differ so much from what you've likely been doing, you will build muscles. When you change up your routines, methods, exercises, etc. you shock your body, which triggers muscle growth. We all know this, and the mace does this particularly well.
Muscles you don't often think about...
It will also help build muscles that are typically not targeted adequately with conventional training, like obliques and forearms. Your forearms and obliques will be worked like it's nobody's business when training with a steel mace.
Your shoulders are going to pop like crazy if you train with the mace week in and week out.
You’ll want to use a heavier mace (20-30LB mace) and instead of counting reps, count time. Perform exercises at a moderate intensity, meaning you should rest in between movements/exercises/sets - 1 minute rest is ideal.
Hold the mace firm, engage all your muscles, keep that mind to muscle active. Move slowly through the exercises with maximum tension.
Best Upper Body Fitness Equipment
Steel mace are fantastic tools to build upper body strength and muscle, but what about legs? Yes, legs will be a bit more difficult, but they can be built with a steel mace (Effective Steel Mace Lower Body Workout). You just need to put in that time under tension and use a heavier mace. Do explosive exercises too, mace plyometrics are great for building leg muscles if you only have a light weight mace.
There is no doubt that you can get shredded with a mace. The mace is designed as a full body conditioning tool. Essentially it was made for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which burns fat like crazy and is much more efficient way of working out.
If you have any question about this, get your hands on a 10LB mace, pick it up, and don’t stop moving and don’t put it down for 20 minutes, you’ll understand quickly why this is the ultimate metabolic conditioning tool.
Mace Complexes for HIIT
Perform sequences of mace exercises, also known as complexes - So this will be around 3-5 movements combined into one large movement. Perform 1 complex for 20 minutes, with minimal rest, or you can do 4 different complexes, broken up into 5 minute segments (or 2 complexes, each for 10 minutes...you get the point). Each complex should be a combination of upper and lower body compound movements so that you are getting a full body workout in.
Related: 6 Steel Mace Complex Workouts
Steel Mace vs Jump Rope for burning fat
Some people ask, what’s better a Steel Mace or a Speed Rope for burning fat….
A steel mace is the better choice in our opinion. Swinging around and moving with a mace for 20 minutes non-stop will get your heart rate up high and the movements are so varied that it never gets boring. Moreover, you can burn more calories with a steady increased heart rate when using a steel mace.
That being said, if you are looking for footwork, the speed rope is a better option.
Steel Mace FTW
If you want to burn fat, the steel mace is fantastic and we'd chose it over a speed rope any day of the week. For us, it's really not even a comparison, but since people ask quite often, we thought we'd address it. Now we have...moving on.
In our honest, unbiased opinion, if you are looking to build muscle, it would be best to do a combination of mace and kettlebell training. Furthermore, some traditional lifting, like the big 3 if you have access to it too. Mace and kettlebell training is enough, though. That being said, if you don’t have a lot of muscle mass, the mace alone will do the job perfectly well.
In terms of burning fat and metabolic conditioning, we truly believe there is no better tool. The mace is fun and there are so many movements to learn. One single steel mace can keep you busy year in and year out.
When training becomes fun, that’s when the results come, because you want to do it all the time. With the mace, you’ll be tempted to pick it up and swing it every time you see it. Your fat will hate you, but the rest of your body will love you for it.
Let's start with the CEO of SET FOR SET - Sam Coleman
The man LEO SAVAGE.
"Muscles either shrink or grow. Steel Mace training will not only help build lean muscle but it offers many additional benefits that "traditional" exercise may not offer. Grip strength, full shoulder range of motion, and plasticity to name a few.
Physics shows us that swinging a top loaded object makes it way heavier than it actually is. When you create force you then have to deal with that force eccentrically. So when you see people flowing and switching between exercises especially with speed, they are training all phases of motion in seconds when many forms of traditional exercise will focus on one phase at a time."
- Dylan L. Edwards CFSC (@the_hybrid_movement_guy)
Related: 20+ Steel Mace Instagrams To Follow
The beauty of steel mace training, and unconventional training in general, is that the workouts are much more efficient. You don't need to spend so much time in the gym if you train smart and train hard.
Of course, staying fit requires more than just steel mace training, like the people featured in this article, you need a well-rounded program, a healthy diet, and good sleep. The steel mace is just one tool to achieve this. It's a piece of the puzzle. That said, it can be a big piece. If you know how to incorporate it into your training and use it right, you can reap incredible benefits from steel mace training.
All in all, the steel mace is an incredible tool that offers so many benefits. Don’t limit your thinking to only getting shredded and/or building muscle. Steel mace training can do that and so much more. You can also improve your balance, coordination, core stability, mobility, grip strength, rotational power, and the list goes on. This is all functional, real world stuff. Steel mace training will improve your all around performance. The result - making you a better human.
More Steel Mace Resources:
Where to Buy a Steel Mace?
Related: What size mace should I buy?
If you are looking for more unconventional training equipment to supplement your mace training, check out our Top 7 unconventional training tools.
April 28, 2019
If you’ve got yourself a 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. In fact, there are over 100!
The mace 360 and 10-to-2, a.k.a. gada swings, 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 of Ancient Persians and Hindus mace training. It's particularly useful for building grip strength, core stability, shoulder and back strength/endurance/range of motion.
Before we show you the practice moves. Here are how the mace 360 and 10 to 2 should look when performed.
Mace 360s and 10-to-2s are difficult to learn at first, even with what you'd think is a light weight (i.e. 15lbs), but mastering the movements comes quickly, and it’s well worth it. Who doesn’t like to get a good workout in while feeling like a warrior? Who doesn't like improved range of motion, stronger joints, stronger core, and impressive grip strength?
We recommend starting out with a smaller mace weight. People are usually surprised how heavy even a 15LB mace can feel, 20LBS sometimes can render the mace useless for people who are not use to mace training. A 15LB steel mace is a good place to start if you already have a solid foundation and/or are experienced with unconventional equipment such as kettlebells. If not, go for a 10LB mace.
One point to note, however, it's not just about being the strongest, as some skinny guys in India can swing 50LB maces with one hand (which is incredible), it's about technique. Albeit, they are powerful, clearly, as that is not an easy feat. It definitely requires (and builds) strength, but again, most importantly, it requires good technique.
This article focuses on practice movements that will help you achieve mastery in swinging the mace and performing the 360 and 10-to-2.
The following movements will help you learn the steel mace 360 and 10 to 2 quickly. If your 360 sucks, you need this practice.
UPDATE: We've added a couple important 360 and 10 to 2 movements to this post (so there are more than 2 practice moves now).
The first practice move is the Pendulum.
The pendulum will help your movement system get used to the motion, pattern and the weight of the mace on the back side of the swing.
1. Keep grip loose on mace
2. Bring hands lower down the mace if needed.
3. Let the momentum of the mace do the work.
4. Bring your hands down close to your neck, get them low.
5. Don't flare your ribs, keep them tucked.
6. Swing for 10-15 reps (put your reps in until it's mastered)
The second movement is the Metronome.
The Metronome will help your movement system get used to the motion, pattern and the weight of the mace on the front side of the swing. This will help you understand which point the mace should be swung over your shoulder. You want to move the mace from the 10 o'clock point to the two o'clock point. Not only will this prime you for the first part of a 360 swing, it will help you build grip and forearm strength. This practice movement is especially effective for practicing the 10-to-2 swing, as you will need control and pause with the mace in both the 10 and 2 position during the 10-to-2 swing.
1. Keep your eye on the head of the mace.
2. Keep your core tight.
3. Pause with the mace at the 10 then move to the 2, pause, and repeat to the 10.
4. Move slowly and with full control (this portion of the swing requires strength, not momentum like the Pendulum does).
5. Swing for 10-15 reps (put your reps in until it's mastered)
The third movement is the Mace Pull Over.
This movement is very important. It will help you understand the mechanics of pull the mace from the Pendulum to the front portion of the swing. It's crucial for practicing the 360, as when you bring the Pendulum (back side of the 360 swing) to the front, you need to pull and be powerful and in control of the mace.
1. Practice first with your hands spaced apart, then as you get used to the movement, stack your hands in a typical 360 swing position (bottom of the handle).
2. Keep your core tight.
3. Bring the mace from the back to the front with full control.
4. Do not flare your ribs.
5. Swing for 10-15 reps (put your reps in until it's mastered)
You can start piecing these 3 practice moves together now. For example, Do the pendulum swing and practice pulling it over to the front - so pendulum to pull over, then repeat. Then do the metronome to pendulum but continue with the pendulum instead of trying to pull it over. Keep practicing this, put your reps in.
The fourth practice move is a Choked Up 360.
After you practice the 3 moves above, and you are use to the movements and motion, start to practice the 360 with your hands choked up on the handle. Choking up on the handle makes the mace 360 exercise easier.
Try it with you hands at the middle knurling. It won't feel as smooth since there will be less momentum as you are making it a shorter lever essentially, however, as you get use to the weight of the mace and the movement pattern of the 360 and 10 to 2, you can slowly work your hands down the handle of the mace until you are able to stack them at the end of the handle.
You will notice it’s easier/smoother when your hands are lower down the handle - if you know how to perform the movement properly that is. It will feel fantastic.
When there is more distance from your hands to the head of the mace (which carries most of the weight), more momentum is produced during the swing portion of the movement, which allows for a much more fluid feeling when performing the 360.
It definitely feels much cooler swinging the mace 360, in an almost meditative way, when holding the handle towards the bottom. The motion has fluidity which in turns causes your shoulders to have fluidity (mobility people!). But...take your time to get to this point, there's no rush and you certainly don't want to hurt yourself.
Other mace tutorials:
We suggest mastering the 360 first. One you master the 360 THEN we suggest you move on to the 10-to-2. We believe the 10-to-2 is more difficult than the 360, so once you are doing high reps of the 360, you should be able to perform the 10-to-2 with ease, and with proper form more importantly!
Remember, if you start to perform 10-to-2s and it's difficult, choke up on the handle until you get used to the motion and build the strength.
Learn more Steel Mace Basics.
Keep your eye on the head of the mace as much as possible! It helps coordination and balance.
Remember, you can always make a movement (progressive ones too) easier by choking up on the handle.
Hands closer to the head of the mace = EASY.
Hands farther from the head of the mace = HARD.
Remember it's also about momentum. Let the mace do the work on the back side of the swing, and don't give the mace the death grip. Let your shoulders be relaxed on the back portion of the swing, but always keep your core tight.
Always bring your hands down to your navel on the front side of the swing. When your stacked hands meet your belly button, pause, then continue your swing. Your hands should not be swinging from your chest height.
Related: How to upgrade your mace swing.
Once you’ve mastered all the above, then you can move on to more difficult moves (Mace 360 and 10-to-2 progressions) and mace "flows".
You can get really creative with the mace, and these moves will bring out the warrior in you. Viking warrior - that means women are included!
Related: 66 Steel Mace Swing Variations
Swinging around a steel mace is pretty empowering. It feels beastly. When you can see those obliques and shoulders flexin' you have that gladiatorial look and feel.
I thought I’d leave you with some links below to help you learn more movements, how you can piece them into exercises, workouts, and the best place to get your indestructible steel mace – SET FOR SET!
More Steel Mace Resources:
April 26, 2019 2 Comments
You’ve probably heard and/or seen this phrase being thrown around the fitness world quite a bit lately.
So what the hell is unconventional training?
Unconventional Training, defined as "untraditional fitness methods involving kettlebells, steel maces, Indian clubs, sledgehammers, sandbags, battle rope and other “old school” equipment" is a big "movement" from the common bodybuilding equipment and techniques (conventional training) that have been popular for the last four decades or so. Unconventional training methods are quickly being implemented into the fitness routines of people across the globe. There are a number of reasons for this development in the fitness world - unconventional training methods emphasize functional fitness and strength, they are more efficient than endless hours of cardio and Low Intensity weightlifting, and they are more cost-effective than machines and big gym equipment.
Unconventional training isn’t necessarily the opposite of conventional training. In fact, unconventional training induces the main conventional benefits, like muscle growth, strength and endurance.
The only thing is, it does it in a different manner, plus it offers a lot more benefits that you wouldn’t get from most conventional training regimens.
Conventional methods still have a place in the unconventional training world.
That being said, unconventional training is about real world strength (we explain exactly what this means via the top 9 benefits further below). It’s about training to improve performance, health and well-being. The byproduct is looking good.
Unconventional training is about becoming a natural athlete, which is a primal trait in all of us. Unconventional fitness training doesn’t follow a repetitive plan day after day. It’s every day challenging yourself in a new way. Switching it up between time-tested routines and methods, and even testing new ones.
Conventional training uses barbells, dumbbells, and machines.
Note: when discussing conventional training, we are referring to traditional bodybuilding routines seen in commercial gyms.
Unconventional training uses kettlebells, steel maces, battle ropes, sand bags, tires, etc…and barbells and dumbbells aren’t excluded.
Pretty much - Functional sh*t.
As for machines though, you can throw those out of the equation entirely when it comes to unconventional training. Unless it’s a rowing machine or something of that nature. Any machine made for isolation exercises goes against the mindset of unconventional training.
Unconventional training is about compound movements, offset and unilateral training, and high intensity. Conventional training is about compound and isolated exercises, made to beautify.
One of the biggest aspects of unconventional training is HIIT (High Intensity Interval training), and conventional training is LIIT (Low-Intensity Interval Training). It’s has been proven that HIIT offers benefits that LIIT simply can’t compete with. Not only that, but it’s much more efficient.
Related: Unconventional Full Body Workout
Traditional bodybuilding routines build muscle, but they also often demobilize people too. They don’t address moving through various planes of motion with a full range of motion properly.
Conventional training involves the same types of exercises week in and week out. Tension, tension, tension. Isolation, Isolation, Isolation (add in a few compound movements). There's not much variety.
That being said…
We can’t deny that conventional training methods can be effective and beneficial to overall fitness and performance. Furthermore, they can surely turn bodies into a work of art if done properly. However, it’s not the only way to train and achieve that goal, and again, more often than not, conventional training lacks a lot of other aspects that are important for us as humans.
Conventional - Strength training vs bodybuilding?
There’s a big difference. Strength training, like powerlifting, forgoes a lot of the isolation nonsense we’ve mentioned. Strength training is great for power, explosion and building mass, but if you are looking for all-around performance, it’s still lacking some essentials.
Now, we by no means hate conventional training. Far from it. We appreciate the greats like Arnold as much as everyone. He is one of the biggest reasons fitness is so popular. But as with everything, fitness is evolving...for the better.
We believe a good mix of conventional and unconventional is a great way to go about fitness. Squats, deadlifts and bench press are traditional, conventional exercises, and we’d never say to give those up.
Don’t want to completely give up conventional training? Good, you shouldn’t. Just eliminate the BS and add in some good old unconventional training. We say old, because a lot of unconventional methods date back to ancient times, warrior stuff - training with awkward heavy shit.
Keep the compound movements, get rid of anything "isolation". Start training unconventionally a few times a week at different times or mix it into your current workout session. Instead of an isolation exercises, do some kettlebell swings. Instead of 20 minutes walking uphill on the treadmill, do a 10 minute HIIT workout at the end of your workout with a mace and battle ropes.
Or, maybe you can do 3 conventional days a week and two unconventional...or vice versa.
In any case, theres room for both.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, just remove the BS and add the unconventional mindset.
Unconventional, of course, every time.
The greatest benefits of conventional training are muscle growth and strength. Guess what? You can get the same thing from unconventional training, plus more. So, the answer is easy.
By now the unconventional mindset should be clear.
Unconventional training goals
Unconventional training is done to make you lean, strong, and explosive, with a whole lot of stamina. Put simply, athletic.
Looking good vs feeling good.
There’s no reason you can’t have both. Aim for feeling good and moving good, the result is looking better. If looking better and bigger comes with moving worse and feeling pain (sorry Ronnie), it’s not the way in our books. To each his own, though.
Unconventional training is about working out in a way that will benefit your performance as a human. It's about efficiency. It's not about making yourself a beautiful model - However, looking good happens naturally if a proper diet is in place. Just have a look at any serious unconventional fitness enthusiast for confirmation. Or...just look at pro athletes, they are the product of functional fitness, which is essentially unconventional training, and they look fantastic more often than not. Of course, genetics plays a role in body shape too.
Related: Top 7 Unconventional training tools
Unconventional training tools are AWKWARD. They mimic real world stuff. With unconventional fitness tools you are using equipment that doesn't place the center of gravity in the palm of your hand like a dumbbell, barbell or pressing machine. This awkwardness, or different weight distribution, feel and shape, makes it optimal for building functional, real world strength. It targets your larger muscle groups while also hitting your stabilizer muscles, which means power, strength AND more coordination and stability. Proprioception training is so often lacking in traditional training. Not with unconventional training, though.
There are benefits that directly affect our performance and our physique, and there are benefits that affect our mind. Let’s start with the former.
Unconventional training methods and exercises will move you through all three planes of motion - Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse. Each are equally important, and for real world strength, many times it’s the transverse plane that is the most important. The interesting thing about conventional training is that it’s almost completely lacking the transverse plane. You may see someone doing Russian Twists here and there, but if that’s the full extent of your transverse movements, it’s simply not nearly enough.
Balance & Coordination - Body Awareness
As mentioned above, unconventional training often uses tools that are awkward in shape and weight, which challenges our stabilizer muscles as we do lifts and swings. So, as we work on our strength and endurance, we are also training stability, which leads to improved balance, coordination, and body awareness.
Again, this goes back to real world strength. If you are in the real world picking up a heavy object, and, say, walking with it, it won’t have an even weight distribution, it will be awkward, and awkward feels heavier. It will trip you up. It will require a strong core to stabilize, power and strength to pick it up and keep it up, all while trying to remain balanced.
All in all, this leads to big time sports performance enhancement. Good balance and coordination isn’t just about being able to bounces around with agility, that’s only part of it. Many times sports involve impact from one side or another, which throws off our momentum. With that, you need to be able to remain upright. All of this gets worked and improved with unconventional training. Many athletes train anti-lateral movements, like split squats, to achieve this, but if you really want to take it up a notch, do it with unconventional training tools and do more transverse plane movements, like rotational and anti-rotational movements in a hinge position. Not just anti-lateral movements. Most sports require twisting and turning, and to do this, you need balance and coordination.
Moreover, you also need…
With training the transverse plane, your core gets stronger, and your rotational force and torque does too. This is extremely important if you want to be able to kick ass in life. Think about how often you twist, turn, and rotate. These types of movements become enhanced by using unconventional fitness tools. They require you to move in these patterns with weights, strengthening your rotational power and force tenfold. Allowing you to move better, and accelerate and decelerate at the drop of dime.
This is why so many athletes are using unconventional training methods. It incorporates essential methods for enhancing sports performance.
Related: Training in the transverse plane
Many exercises and unconventional tools force you to be explosive. Training explosive power is crucial for improving performance, in all aspects of life.
It’s hard to be explosive when you are using machines, but with kettlebells, battle ropes and banded plyo jumps, you can really take explosiveness to the next level.
Unconventional training is full-body, high intensity, so your metabolic conditioning will skyrocket. The movements are compound, the work time goes far beyond a simple 10 rep set, and you are moving through various planes of motion, this is the ultimate metabolic conditioning.
Related: Tire Slam Benefits
Unconventional training will work parts of your body that many conventional fitness plans don’t even consider. For example, grip strength. If you are using awkward tools to train, it puts more work on your grip, which increases its strength, which then improves your performance in all areas of your upper body, as everything involves grip. It's so often that grip fails before the muscles being worked do, thus you can see the importance.
Related: Benefits of Grip Strength
Another crucial aspect of training that most bodybuilders don’t consider are stabilizer muscles. This is super important for all around performance. Stability is key.
All of this is REAL WORLD STRENGTH. If you thought that phrase was BS or gimmicky before, we hope you see how real it is and what it entails more specifically now.
Every day is something different in the unconventional world, things don’t get boring. The tools are fun, the methods are challenging, and so, things never get stale.
Unconventional training is about NOT becoming accustomed to a routine, it’s about switching things up and challenging yourself in different ways, which allows you to build muscle and strength at a higher rate.
Most unconventional training tools are portable. Ya, some might be a bit heavy, but they can easily go in the car or truck for a park workout.
Moreover, it’s much more affordable and space-effective to fill your garage with an unconventional gym than a conventional one. People who like to workout at home will no doubt gravitate towards unconventional training. It just makes sense.
The movements implemented into unconventional training offers trainees the most bang for their time. Effective and efficient.
Related: Steel Mace and Kettlebell Workout
Unconventional training is so much more than it sounds, it’s a mix of so many training aspects all geared towards improving performance. It challenges you in ways that most conventional training programs simply do not.
Thanks to advances in technology, it's easy to gain access to quality information. This awareness and greater understanding of fitness has had a profound impact on people.
Unconventional training, which is essentially functional training, is the training method for athletes from all types of sports - We are talking martial arts, baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and so on.
Athletes and trainers utilize unconventional training tools and techniques as they offer numerous benefits for sports performance. It's also easier on the joints, causing less wear and tear and decreasing the chance of injury.
You know if pro athletes are doing it, it’s for good reason, and thanks to the internet and social media, people can see these methods and results first hand. So, naturally it’s catching on. Quickly.
Having access to the methods of professionals and informed people from all walks of life allows ideas to spread like wildfire.
As long as you can sift through the nonsense, you will find gold. If it sounds clickbaity, it probably is.
Finding gold in the fitness industry is easy. When there’s a community so passionate and so adamant on something, it shows merit. You can easily see this with unconventional fitness. Then you have professionals at the highest levels also proving its worth. Boom, it becomes super popular.
What's more, when ACE and NASM are pushing the unconventional movement, you already know the change is set. This isn't a trend. It's the now and the future of fitness.
Conventional methods will remain relevant. However, more and more people are combining unconventional training with conventional. The understanding of a well-rounded fitness regimen is undeniable. You don’t want just strength and big muscles, you want balance, core strength, stability, coordination, mobility, endurance, and strong healthy joints.
People who train conventionally, and move to unconventional training, will remember what it was like when they first started fitness. It’s different, and again, it challenges you in so many new ways. Compare 20 heavy kettlebell swings with a set of DB shoulder presses, you'll see what we mean. The best part is, the innovative methods and exercises of unconventional training become addicting.
Some will go completely unconventional, others will keep the mix. Some may never change. No matter what, knowledge continues to grow and we are all going to become better humans because of it. When you think back to the past, the vast majority of people didn't even exercise - Just look at the cast of Spartacus from the 1960s. The point is, we are continually improving as a species. Don't be resistant to a change that is so obviously needed. And don't be left behind.
Remember: Unconventional training methods are intense, difficult, and they will test you both mentally and physically, furthermore, there's a learning curve. So stick it out and reap the benefits.
April 19, 2019
We all know about steel mace 360s and 10 to 2s. They are the traditional movements of the Mace (aka Gada), and they are our personal favorite mace movements. We can find a way to fit some 360s and 10-to-2s into every workout.
When it comes to Steel Mace Swings, you can go far beyond feet hip-width apart, traditional 360s and 10 to 2s. The macebell is a tool that breeds creativity. There are literally countless ways that you can swing a steel mace through all 3 planes of motion.
That being said, we wanted to get creative, so we put together a compilation of steel mace swing variations. We filmed this all in one go, and we managed to perform 66 different steel mace swing variations. If we had more time, we could have done over 100. As we are re-watching this, so many more ideas are coming to mind. That’s the beauty of the mace.
In this video, we demonstrate beginner, intermediate and advanced steel mace swing movements. They aren’t in perfect order as some progression movements made sense to bunch together. That being said, you will find a good mix of steel mace swings for all levels in this video. Use your own discretion when performing these steel mace exercises.
WARNING: THE INFORMATION/MOVEMENTS OFFERED IN THIS VIDEO ARE FOR DEMONSTRATION ONLY. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW DIET OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THIS WORKOUT ROUTINE MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOU.
As you can see, the majority of the exercises consisted of variations, or complexes, of 360s and 10-to-2s, with a mix of both two handed and single arm. However, some of the movements were swinging the mace in a different motion than a 360 or 10 to 2 swing, such as the Rotational Side Swing, Golfer Swing and Back Switch, Front Pendulum, Downward Flower, etc. When it comes to swings, you can take it vertical, horizontal, rotational, anti-rotational, and whatever else you can dream up that doesn’t defy the law of physics.
Let us know what you favorite steel mace swing variation/movement is in the comments below. Tag us on Instagram or Facebook if you use one of these exercises or if you create your own variation! We’d love to see it and share it, Click the share button to share this blog post or video with a friend!
More Steel Mace Resources:
April 04, 2019
You swing Steel Maces and do other overhead training, but have you ever asked yourself “how capable are my shoulders and spine?” Let’s be honest, most of us just throw around weight without ever asking this question.
The Shoulder joint is a complex piece of work that we take for granted. There’s a lot going on up in there. Is it Internal Rotation, External Rotation, Extension, Flexion, Abduction, Adduction or some combination of all that? And what happens when we load the joint in different directions?
The Spine is complex and the relationship to the shoulder’s mobility or lack thereof is critical to safe long term performance.
We won't go so deep into the science of the shoulder and spine here, but let’s talk about one of the components of shoulder function that is necessary for successful swinging.
The strength of the muscles around the scapula and the stability demands during shoulder movement is essential to safe swinging. With a movement like Steel Mace 360’s or 10 to 2’s the repetitive nature requires the musculature supporting the Scapula to be strong, but it also requires endurance. Building a solid well of capacity is key to your overall health and longevity during these activities.
There are a variety of different ways we can strengthen and stabilize the Scapula, but in this article we’re going to attack it with resistance bands.
Utilizing bands can help cue you or your clients, providing the feedback you need for desired outcomes.
In the first video we are moving into a position specific to Steel Mace Swinging. The backswing is where there are large demands placed on the shoulder joint. Using the bands to provide oppositional upward force can help cue someone so that they may learn to engage and connect with the tissues around the scapula.
Understanding the spine and the demands placed on the spine during movement is key to understanding how to protect it. Most people only focus on the muscles surrounding the spine itself and neglect the fact that the frontal line of the body plays a major role in spinal support. That’s right. Your ability to control your front, impacts your back.
You’ll often hear people say “don’t let your ribs flare,” but is that what they really mean? Yes and no… Of course they mean that, but if we dig deeper, there is a “why” buried in there. What they really mean is when your ribs flare, you’ve lost control of your frontal “stuff”… your core… your abs… all that stuff that is supposed to be working.
So we use the band in video 2 to safely provide downward feedback in the specific position of the backswing. Specificity is important.
Interested in learning more about safely and effectively using bands, maces and other stuff to Upgrade your training. Follow @TheUpgradeGuys
Coach Rich Thurman ( @Coach_RT3) is a Strength & Conditioning Coach based in San Francisco, CA. He’s the founder of Steel Mace Workshops and creator of Steel Mace Education platform. He combines both Modern and Traditional use of the Steel Mace in order to safely maximize the overall strength. As co-creator of @TheUpgradeGuys he is committed to helping you upgrade the things you do starting with the body you were given.
March 28, 2019 2 Comments
The Steel Mace is one of the best pieces of equipment for building core strength and stability…and as a byproduct, rock solid 6 pack abs.
Steel Mace training works core strength and stability incredibly well because of the way the mace is designed. The weight is unevenly distributed, with most of the weight being at the head of the mace. This means the load is offset, requiring your core to be fully engaged so you can remain stable and upright. Because of this, virtually every exercise you perform with the steel mace will target your core. You can engage your core even more by holding the mace further down the handle, which makes the load more offset than if your hands are closer to the head of the mace.
Now, you can also perform steel mace exercises that specifically target the core, and when doing so, you get normal core work plus the added benefit of the steel maces design. This is like doubling down on core exercises. You really can’t beat that.
Furthermore, the traditional and most popular movements of the steel mace are essentially core stability exercises (they also target shoulders, forearms, upper back, lats and more). They are called 360s and 10 to 2s.
These exercises require you to swing the mace around your body, in the transverse plane, which means you need to have powerful core strength and stability to remain upright with good posture/correct form. With heavier steel maces, this becomes very apparent.
Note about 360s and 10-to-2s: Although they can be done with some rotation involved, they are typically anti-rotational exercises.
With all that being said, we believe steel maces are the ultimate training tool for core strength. You can work through all 3 planes of motion, and it is very effective for targeting the transverse plane, which many people neglect training. Your core will only be trained fully and completely if you target all three planes of motion - sagittal, frontal, and transverse (anti-rotation and rotational exercises).
Here is a video we put together which is a compilation of our favorite steel mace core exercises. Some of these are specifically steel mace core exercises while others are more compound movements which also target the core to great effect.
When performing steel mace rotational exercises, you want to protect yourself from low back injuries by following some simple rules.
You can start light so you can get comfortable with the movements, as the mace is an awkward tool when first starting out. However, you will have the greatest results for steel mace core exercises by using a heavier mace (relative to your strength and while maintaining proper form). We typically recommend experienced mace swingers to use a 20 or 25LB mace for 360s and 10 to 2s, although a 15LB (and even a 10LB) mace can also do the job well too (more reps!). The heavier you can go while maintaining proper form, the better. That being said, some exercises will require you to use a lighter mace. Start light when testing out a new exercise.
Get a SET FOR SET Steel Mace
March 24, 2019 1 Comment
When was the last time you thought about wrist strength?
Usually, people only think about wrist strength when they notice some pain in their wrists during a workout, after playing sports like baseball, or even simply hitting the heavy bag at the gym.
The unfortunate thing is that once you develop wrist pain, you are thinking about it too late.
Not that it can’t be resolved…but it’s bound to set your training back a few weeks. Nobody wants that.
The question then becomes, once you are healed, will you forget about your wrists or will you start working on developing wrist strength?
Whether you have wrist pain or your wrists are fine, we urge you to start thinking about your wrists like you would other major muscles and joints, and stay ahead of injuries and pain - It’s called prehabilitation.
This article will cover the importance of wrist strength and mobility. We will also tell you about our favorite equipment for developing wrist strength and mobility, and show you 17 exercises and a workout to bulletproof your wrists.
Having strong wrists is essential for injury prevention. Strong wrists that have good mobility is especially important for athletes like powerlifters, boxers, MMA fighters and baseball players.
Upper-body exercises start at the wrists, moving up to the elbows and then the shoulders. When we lack strength and stability in our wrists, we will make up for it in the elbows and shoulders.
This means that we will compensate and try to make up for our weak wrists, putting more pressure and tension on our shoulders and elbows. This can lead to injuries across all three joints.
The same goes for shoulder and elbow mobility and strength. If you lack either, you will force your other joints to make up for it. This is no good.
So, when addressing the wrists, you must also consider both your elbows and your shoulders.
The focus of this post is on the wrists, but this is something you should always keep in mind. All three joints are equally important.
Wrists are incredibly complex joints with many bones, ligaments, connective tissue, nerves…and, some muscle.
Your wrists are capable of a wider range of motion than most other joints in your body, as they have multiple ranges of motions.
Here are the four types of movements that our wrists are capable of:
When comparing this to your knee joint, you realize just how mobile your wrist joint is, as the knees only have flexion and extension movement.
You use your wrists and forearm muscles for so many things on a daily basis, like picking up objects, holding onto something, shaking hands, and of course, exercising and playing sports. It’s super important that your wrists are strong to prevent injuries and to be able to maximize your upper-body strength so you can become more powerful and induce better hypertrophy.
People who play sports where there is high-impact on their wrist, elbow and shoulder joints need to be extra careful and work on wrists strength and mobility. This means boxers, powerlifters (think about doing a ‘clean’), baseball players, golfers, and so on.
The strength of your forearm is a huge factor when it comes to the overall functional strength of the upper body. It plays a big role for your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. It’s a support muscle for your rotator cuff and reduces the chance of injuries that may occur in your wrists and up through your arm during sports and weight training - i.e.: hitting the bag, bench press, curls, overhead DB press, deadlifts, and any other lift that puts pressure on your hands and wrists.
So, increasing the strength of your forearm AND your wrist will allow you to work harder, move better and avoid common injuries of the joints in your arm.
Here is a quick list of the benefits that come with having bulletproof, iron-hard wrists:
Not only do people who play sports where there’s a high impact and force on the wrists and people who lift weights need strong wrists, but they are also important for anyone and everyone, because daily life requires the use of those puppies every single day. Plus, you never know when you will need your wrists to be strong (say you take a fall or get into a fight)…it’s better to stay #alwaysready, as you never know when shits gonna hit the fan. There won’t be a notification on your phone, that’s for sure.
Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link.
In general, most weight training will have some impact on the wrist. However, for some people, that’s simply not enough.
There are many tools that you can use to strengthen your wrists and forearms. Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, steel clubs, resistance bands, and more.
Our favorite tool to strengthen the wrists is one that greatly strengthens it by nature of design.
It’s the steel mace.
The steel mace holds the majority of its weight in the ball at the end of the handle. This displaces the weight from the center of your hand, creating an uneven weight distribution, which, in effect, works your wrists and forearms like crazy. Essentially, any steel mace exercise is going to target the wrists and forearms.
We love the steel mace for its ability to tremendously strengthen the wrists and forearms while simultaneously targeting other areas of the body. You don’t need to do wrist focused exercises to have serious “wrist” gains.
Furthermore, you can target literally every muscle group with a steel mace, and every plane of motion, although it’s best for shoulders, stabilizer muscles, core strength, and stability through the transverse plane. You will build incredible rotational and anti-rotational strength and stability with the steel mace, all while working your wrist and forearms like it’s nobody’s business.
After training with a steel mace for a while, you will see significant improvements in your forearms and grip strength, as well as an improved balance and coordination through a powerful and stable core. And since you’ve landed on this article, best of all for you, your wrists will become bulletproof…straight up iron hard.
During steel mace movements, you will use your grip and wrists to maintain the mace in the correct position (the weight is always offset so your wrists and forearms will be put to the test). This is why starting with a lighter mace is always recommended for those with weaker wrists, elbows and shoulder joints. If you plan on doing hand switches and more complex movements and sequences, your wrists will be moving through their four ranges of motions that we mentioned above in the wrist anatomy section. The steel mace covers the whole nine (or four in this case) when it comes to strengthening the wrists.
Below we will show you a few exercises and hand switches that will make your wrists bulletproof. We will also run you through a few grip and wrist specific exercises using the steel mace. As mentioned, the steel mace works the wrists more than any other tool we’ve used simply by nature of design, so when you do an actual wrist focused exercise with the steel mace, it’s like a double whammy.
Warm up: 5-10 minutes (wrist, elbow and shoulder focused)
17 Wrist Strengthening Exercises using a Steel Mace:
1. Offset Wrist Rolls
2. Single Arm Pike
3. Ulnar Deviation
4. Radial Deviation
6. Mace Head Grabs
8. Full Circle
9. Half Circle
11. Back Switch
13. 10 to 2
14. Single Arm 360
15. Single Arm 10 to 2
16. Offset Extended Holds
17. Front Raises with Pause
Exercises can be done traditionally:
3 sets x 10-15 reps
Note: You can add a few of these exercises to your current workouts. You do not need to perform all of these exercises during one workout session, although that can be done.
Unfortunately, wrist size is mostly determined by our genetics, meaning the bone structure we were given, AND fat, but no one wants to get fat just to have bigger wrists (plus, that doesn’t even mean they will be stronger…nope, just fatter).
So, yes, they can grow a couple of millimeters, but the size is negligible. Your forearms will grow though, and that’s great for stronger wrists.
More importantly than gaining wrist girth, working your wrists will allow you to increase bone density and strength of the ligaments.
Similar to muscles, bone is actually a living tissue that reacts to exercise by becoming stronger. Men and women who exercise on a regular basis from early adulthood typically have greater peak bone mass, compared to those who don’t. Bone mass usually peaks during the third decade of your life. After that, we start to lose bone mass. So, women and men over the age of 20 can prevent bone mass/density loss by exercising regularly. Furthermore, exercising will allow us to maintain muscle strength, balance and coordination, which directly affects us by decreasing the chance of injury (preventing falls and fractures).
The best kinds of exercises for the bones are weight-bearing and resistance exercises. Working against gravity like this helps us strengthen our bones.
Take note that exercises, like swimming and bicycling, are great for cardiovascular benefits and building and maintaining muscle, but they don’t directly affect the strength of our bones. Therefore, in terms of our bones, weight training and resistance training is a very important aspect of fitness.
So, going back to the question of can my wrists grow? The answer is, again, not so much. Well, not like a muscle can at least. Nevertheless, the bone strength and density that you can achieve through weight training and working on specific joints means everything. This is something everyone should do as it is simply advantageous for improving daily life, our fitness, and athleticism.
March 13, 2019
Today, we are talking about the importance of SLEEP. One of the most underrated aspects of overall performance in fitness and sports, and life in general.
We are here to impugn the old saying, “I’ll sleep when I die”. A saying that is not only terribly counterproductive but also extremely detrimental to longevity and sports performance. If you plan to sleep when you die, you will be receiving that fate much sooner than if you simply sleep enough when you are alive. In the long run, you will have more time with adequate sleep and your time awake will be far more productive.
Neuroscientists have only recently begun to uncover all of the mysteries of sleep. We are writing this article to express the importance of the findings from our research into recent studies on sleep. It’s not easy to write this but…the facts are pretty much utterly terrifying - If you aren’t getting enough sleep, that is.
In 2019, the scientific community's recognition on the importance of quality sleep is like the recognition of how cigarettes kill over half a century ago. The scary thing is, when everyone found out that cigarettes were causing cancer 50-some years ago, it’s not like everyone quit. Now, studies are going to hit the masses about the terrible effects of sleep deprivation…and do you think everyone will adjust their schedules to make sure they are getting the necessary amount of sleep? Not likely.
Lack of sleep is a pandemic that needs to be resolved.
Now, to put these "fatalist" views aside...
The good news is, this information on the importance of sleep can literally save lives.
Yes, some of the findings are scary, especially if you are someone who doesn’t sleep enough, however, there’s always time to change and it’s better late than never. Those who sleep as much as they should, and those who take (or will take, from now on) sleep seriously, will reap the benefits that come with good sleep. Understanding that proper sleep will boost the quality of your life is something we all can rejoice over.
It’s been said by Sleep Expert and Neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker that “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting”.
If you make sure to get your zzz’s (naturally, meaning no medication), you can improve your brain and body better than any sports performance enhancer ever could. Side effect NOT included. Consistently getting good sleep is like steroids for the mind and body.
Recent studies prove that good sleep directly correlates to immense recovery and improved performance, which, of course, is vital for an athletes’ (and, in general, people’s) success. Thanks to these studies, doctors and athletic coaches are bolstering sleep just like they do exercise and nutrition. Sleep has always been considered important, of course, it’s basic knowledge, but it was still something that went by the wayside for many athletes. This is no longer the case. Trainers are constantly asking their athletes, “have you got enough sleep?”. This question is asked more than any other question these days.
Pro trainers and athletes know exactly how to optimize sleep. So the quality of sleep has improved as well.
In this article, we are discussing everything sleep, with an emphasis on sleep for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. We hope that after you finish reading this article you will be inspired to get that beauty rest each and every day, without fail.
As these two states of sleep are so different from one another, neuroscientist/physiologists have identified the REM and NREM as distinct behavioral states.
During NREM, our brain has lower activity and consumes less energy. REM on the other hand, which is referred to as paradoxical sleep, has similar brain activity as when we are awake.
One sleep cycle lasts around 90-110 minutes and depending on how long you sleep, there are 4-6 cycles on average per night.
Now, although there are two types of sleep, there are, in fact, four unique stages of sleep. Let’s breakdown the four stages of a sleep cycle.
This stage occurs when you first fall asleep and it is very light sleep. It only lasts around 1-10 minutes. At this time, you can quickly return to fully awake. If you are awoken during the first stage, you may feel like you didn’t even fall asleep.
In this stage, your muscles are not restrained by your mind, although your breathing, body temperature, blood pressure and heartbeats do decrease slightly.
In this stage, it is a bit more difficult to be woken up. Metabolic functions, blood pressure and body temperature further decrease. Stage 2 is also considered light sleep and it makes up 45% of our sleep.
Now, even though the true resting happens during the next two stages, there’s a lot of evidence now that light-sleep is also crucial, in that it boosts our ability to learn. One important thing neuroscientists are certain of is that this is the stage that prepares our bodies for deep sleep through the process of slowing down our metabolism.
The Deep Sleep stage is also known as ‘slow-wave sleep’ and it begins at around 45 minutes into a sleep cycle. Brain waves get slower and larger, and at this time, it is the most difficult to be woken up. You’ll likely show no reaction to sounds and movements around you. If you are awoken during deep sleep, you will feel disoriented for a few minutes.
It is in deep sleep where we get the most restorative benefits to our bodies, all the way down to a cellular level. A strong HGH hormone is triggered during Deep Sleep, sending us waves of it, which rejuvenates the cells throughout our body.
Furthermore, as the body has lower metabolic rates, heart rate, and use of oxygen, the cells recover from damages caused by oxidation. Although oxidation is a normal and necessary process, it is very important that we heal from it. This happens during deep sleep. Neuroscientist state that being awake is actually low-level brain damage. It is during sleep that our brain heals itself from the time spent being awake.
Deep sleep is the sleep that offers us a clean slate for the next day. It’s the most “refreshing” stage of sleep, as it erases the sleepiness that we have accumulated during the day.
Moreover, this is the time when our body repairs itself. Here are some benefits of getting the right amount of deep sleep:
Also, during Deep Sleep, our memories are processed, such as personal experiences and factual information.
This is the stage where dreams are made (no-pun intended). Although our eyes are moving rapidly, our body paralyzes itself as to not act out the dreams.
Typically, you will experience REM sleep 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first REM sleep of the 4-6 sleep cycles per night will be the shortest, then it increases in the following cycles.
We know deep sleep’s main function is to repair the body, therefore REM sleep is what repairs the mind.
To this day, REM sleep is not completely understood, as are many mechanisms of the brain. What we do know is that a lack of REM sleep leads to many behavioral and physiological irregularities.
REM sleep heals the mind and consolidates information that you absorbed during the day, which helps your memory. This is managed by the brain through the formation of neural connections and replenishment of neurotransmitters. These same connections and replenishments emit those feel good chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, thus boosting your mood during the day. This is exactly why a lack of sleep leads to emotional instability.
Although some dreaming happens in light sleep stages, dreaming is the most prevalent during REM. Dreaming is super important for us as it is believed to help process emotions and solidify particular memories.
REM sleep is shown to relate to procedural memory, which is the memory that stores new techniques for solving problems and acquiring skills, along with new ways of moving our body (i.e. how we move our fingers for activities like playing the piano). With that, it becomes clear that practice doesn’t make perfect - practice with a good nights rest makes perfect. Our bodies are actually developing the skills we learned while we were awake during REM sleep.
There isn’t a “most important sleep stage”, even though one would conclude it’s Deep Sleep and/or REM sleep.
Evolution gave us all the stages of sleep for a reason, so each should be treated with equal importance.
With that being said, Deep Sleep and REM sleep are what gives us the most replenishment, both physically and mentally.
The most important thing is that you sleep enough hours each night and that your sleep cycles are that of a healthy, natural sleep pattern. You need Deep Sleep just as much as you need REM sleep. So, if you have any concern about the quality of sleep you are getting, you should run some tests. These days we have tools and technology that allows us to test our sleep fairly well.
Most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night. After the age of 60, sleep tends to be shorter, lighter and disrupted by multiple awakenings throughout the night.
Serious athletes require more sleep, ranging from 8-10 hours, due to their strenuous activities during the day. People who do intense workouts 4-5 times a week need to get sleep in this range so they can completely recover and benefit from the rigorous workouts. Sleep is easily the number one element to athletic recovery.
Lebron James is the perfect example of a pro athlete who takes sleep extremely serious.
We listened to a recent Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Lebron James and Mike Mancias (James’ trainer), and they discussed how James aims for 8-10 hours of sleep per day, without fail, which is the biggest factor to his “never-ending” recovery regiment.
Lebron makes sure his bedroom is optimized for sleep, using a sleep app, temperature control, and other important factors for optimal sleep, which we will get into further below in the “Optimal Sleep” section.
Here is a quote from Mancias (taken from Tim Ferriss’ podcast).
"Number one is being very accountable in that room. Create an environment. For us, it's always, for LeBron, in his hotel room. Making sure the temperature is set at a particular—probably 68 to 7o degrees is probably optimal. Making sure the room is completely dark. You have no distractions. Trying to turn off all your electronics, televisions, phones, etc. Turn everything off probably a half hour to 45 minutes before you actually want to go to sleep. Really commit yourself to that. We all love to scroll on the internet and our social media accounts at night to catch up on everything, but you owe it yourself and you owe it your recovery to commit and create an environment. The room at optimal temperature, dark, dark room, comfortable bed.”
The right amount of deep sleep per night is around 62-110 minutes (13-23% of your sleep), however, being on the higher end of the spectrum is better for athletes. There doesn’t seem to be an issue with too much deep sleep. Of course, too much sleep isn’t good, but in regards to a 7-9 hour sleep, the more deep sleep the better.
With that being said, the amount of deep sleep one gets per night decreases with age. For those under 30, you might get up to two hours of deep sleep every night. However, for those over 65, you might only get about a half hour of deep sleep. This is likely because younger people need deep sleep for normal growth and development. But that’s not to say older people don’t need deep sleep, as it is beneficial for any age, especially if you are very physically active.
REM sleep makes up around 20-25% of sleep, on average. This is a healthy amount of REM. To put this into minutes, for 8 hours of sleep, you should be getting 96-120 minutes of REM sleep.
What about light sleep?
Sleep scientists concur that light sleep is important, but they don’t put a minimum or maximum number to aim for. The first two stages of sleep are considered the “default” stages, as it is essentially impossible to avoid or get a lack of light sleep…as long as you are sleeping, that is.
The Sad Truth For Americans:
American kids’ sleep stats are no better.
Why aren’t people getting the sleep they need?
The biggest reason people aren’t getting enough sleep is because of such early start times for jobs, which in turn means very early start times for schools, as schools follow parents' work times…the need for round-the-clock entertainment doesn’t help either.
The sad thing is, it doesn’t even make sense in terms of productivity. Less sleep equals less productivity. It’s extremely counterproductive to the workplace.
Moreover, drowsy driving kills more people than alcohol or drugs combined. So not only is a lack of sleep caused by early work times unproductive and for kids a disadvantage to learning, it is dangerous.
And that’s not even considering the long term effects that a lack of sleep has on a person, which we will get into below in the lack of sleep section.
“I’ll catch up on sleep during the weekend”
You’ve definitely heard this one before.
Unfortunately, you can’t. Although you can make up for some sleep, there is no way you can make up for an entire week in one weekend. So, as much as we all wish that were possible, it’s just...not.
For example, if you were to pull an all-nighter, then the next day sleep all that you want, you’d only make up around 3-4 hours of the lost 8.
It’s really too bad our bodies can’t store sleep like we can fat :’(
“I’m good with 4-5 hours a night!”
You’ve probably heard this before too, and you probably have a friend who claims they can function perfectly on something like 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Sadly, this just isn’t true either. Nobody can. Literally, nobody.
Someone saying this to you is the same as someone who says “I drive better when I’m drunk” or “I’m a good drunk driver”. They may actually think that to be the reality, but it’s not.
“You don’t know you’re sleep deprived, when you’re sleep deprived”
- Sleep Expert and Neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker
WHAT ABOUT NAPS?
Although naps have proven to be helpful in gaining some replenishment, they are not effective enough to regain the sleep we’ve lost.
While awake, your brain is creating adenosine. Adenosine is what allows you to remain energized, and stay #AlwaysReady.
However, the longer you are awake, the more adenosine your brain has to carry. In higher and higher concentrations, adenosine causes you to become sleepy. The only way you can release the adenosine and become refreshed again is to sleep.
Thankfully, your internal alarm clock, which is called ‘circadian rhythm’, tells you when to wake up and when to sleep.
So, once you fall asleep, your adenosine levels lower and again, then your circadian rhythm tells you to wake, and your low levels of adenosine can start to increase, giving you the energy for the day.
Another component of how sleep recovers your brain is in regards to CSF.
Your brain is lined with a liquid full of nutrients called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). During the day, your brain cells absorb these nutrients from the CSF, then excretes the waste back into the CSF. The waste builds up throughout the day, and at the end of the day there’s simply too much of it. This causes the brain to function adversely.
Sleep is what resolves this everyday occurrence. As you sleep, channels open up, thus flushing out that day’s supply of CSF. Fresh CSF comes in, allowing you to awake with a “clean” brain.
How is CSF created and absorbed?
The CSF is created by the specialized ependymal cells in the choroid plexuses of the ventricles of the brain, and absorbed in the arachnoid granulations.
In the next section, we will discuss some ways that you can test your sleep cycles/stages to make sure you are in the healthy range.
Before 2009, to actually test your sleep properly, you would need to go see a sleep doctor and get a bunch of wires connected from special monitors to your body. And, you’d have to sleep in their “lab”. This is definitely not conducive for a good night sleep. At least not the first night of testing. You’d need to get used to this, as much as possible, to get proper results.
Nowadays, we have smart technology that makes testing our sleep in depth, simple, and it can be done in our own home in our own bed. There are millions of people using apps and wearable tools, like bracelets, smart watches, and even headbands, to collect and analyze data from their sleep.
This smart technology records sounds and movement while you sleep. They record the hours you slept and it monitors your heartbeat and your breathing, which tells you mostly everything you need to know.
If you want to see two of the best wearables on the market today, check out our post Oura Ring Vs WHOOP.
This type of data will allow you to understand how you are sleeping. It will tell you how much deep sleep and REM sleep you are getting. How your sleep cycles look. And more…
You can send it to a sleep doctor to analyze or you can make informed analysis by reaching out online in certain forums or studying what a healthy, normal sleep pattern looks like.
If you have any concern about your sleep, you should definitely get on this. One of our friends recently did this and ultimately found out he has sleep apnea.
Now, this kind of test is good, but if you have serious concerns or find something peculiar about your sleep that requires more advanced testing (as smart technology is still relatively new), your doctor can set you up with a polysomnography (PSG).
A PSG effectively measures the following:
Afterward, your doctor can study the results and recommend you treatment from there, if necessary.
What happens if you aren’t getting enough sleep? Here are the signs, symptoms and long term effects of not getting enough deep sleep, REM sleep, and sleep in general.
Not Getting 7-9 Hours of Sleep
Long Term Effects - Not getting enough quality sleep is one of the biggest causes of:
Sleep is as important as food and water. Some side effects/signs of sleep deprivation are:
Not Getting Enough Deep Sleep
A lack of the deep sleep stage is associated with particular disorders, such as:
Here are some effects of a lack of REM sleep:
Too much or too little REM sleep
If you get too much REM, it has shown to lead to depression and anxiety because it replicates the same pathophysiology of major depressive disorder. Too little REM can also cause anxiety issues. In regards to too much REM and depression, it has been shown in studies that suppression of REM leads to greater anti-depressant effects. Yet, this isn’t a good strategy for depression. Mother Nature most likely didn’t create REM to induce depressive symptoms, so the long term effects of suppressing REM sleep isn’t clear, but we can assume it isn’t conducive to a healthy functioning brain. The point is though, REM is a tricky beast. REM sleep is one of the least understood stages of sleep. What we can conclude is, getting in the healthy range is important. Thankfully, for most of us, it comes naturally.
Substance use can have a serious impact on REM sleep. The following substances are proven to suppress REM sleep:
Below we will go over how to create the optimal environment for a good night sleep (that means good deep sleep too!)…
In order to sleep, your brain must drop its temperature by 2-3°F. To help with this, studies show that sleeping naked or with less clothes can be somewhat helpful. Keeping your hands and feet warm can also help as it moves the blood away from your core and out to the surface.
Warm baths before bed are also great. A warm bath will cause vasodilation (that’s when you get rosy cheeks and red skin), which causes all of the blood to rush to the surface. When you get out, you have a big drop of heat from your body, which causes a decrease in your core body temperature.
Evolutionarily speaking, hunter gatherers would sleep 2 hours after night began as that was when temperatures started to drop. They would wake up about 30 minutes before sunrise due to temperatures starting to increase.
Work on going to bed and waking up the same time every day. This means weekends too!
During the last hours of the day, turn most of the lights in your house off. Try not to use your phone or computer for around 1 hour before bed. The light will affect our natural release of melatonin.
Don’t go to bed too full or too hungry. Eat around 2-3 hours before bed. Furthermore, diets that are high in sugar and low in fiber are shown to hinder good sleep. These kinds of diets cause less deep sleep and makes your sleep more fragmented throughout the night.
Melatonin is created naturally by our bodies. Sometimes, when you are traveling between timezones, our circadian rhythm gets thrown off, which causes our bodies to produce melatonin at the time it should have in our previous timezone. This is when melatonin is useful. It will help you get your sleep schedule adjusted to the new timezone. However, once your body is stable in a new timezone, melatonin doesn’t show to be effective for getting better sleep. In fact, for many people (who are stable in their timezone), taking melatonin is more of a placebo effect. With that being said, if its working, placebo or not, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be taking it. It won’t hurt.
Exercising for 20-30 minutes a da is super effective for good sleep. So try to exercise daily. BUT, don’t exercise a few hours before you plan to go to bed, as your body needs time to come down from the workout to get into rest mode.
If you workout in the evening, say 6-8pm, try to avoid pre-workout drinks or caffeine. These will keep you awake even after you think the effects have worn off.
Try to reduce stress, this will help your body and mind relax. It’s hard to sleep when your body is tense and your brain won’t stop churning out thoughts, especially negative ones. A good way to reduce stress is through mediation. Practice meditation to calm the mind. There’s a reason people have been practicing meditation for thousands of years. It works!
We don’t necessarily promote the use of supplements to sleep. The best way is to follow our optimal sleep recommendations above. However, there are some natural supplements that can’t be harmful to try, and if it works for you, great! Not all are exactly 100% proven, but there have been studies done on the following:
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These are all worth a try.
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All in all, the key takeaway here is, we all need to get our 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Our lives depend on it. Sleep now, don’t wait until you die.
As a final takeaway, here are some further important points about sleep for athletes.
REM Sleep for Athletes
Although physical recovery mostly comes from non-REM sleep, it’s not all physical when it comes to sports. Athletes need high levels of mental acuity. From memorizing plays to understanding the opponent to keeping stress levels low during a clutch moment, mental awareness and acuity is extremely critical and athletes need to be at their best.
Even with the most well rested body, an athlete can’t perform at his or her best without the ability to make good split second decisions. Sports are demanding, both physically and mentally.
Lack of Sleep in General
Studies show that a lack of sleep is the number one cause of athletic injuries.
Athletes who get enough sleep experience 60% fewer injuries and 54% less sickness. LeBron James is the perfect example. He has played in 94% of possible games in his career, and he has never missed a playoff game. Why? Because he makes sleep his biggest priority.
Sleep is not only for recovery, but it’s also for “prevention” as well.
Deep Sleep for Sports Recovery
When it comes to physical health, deep sleep is essential. Potent hormones, like GH and IGF-1, are released during deep sleep. These same growth hormones relate to physical health and performance.
During deep sleep, blood flow delivers restorative oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, tissues and cells, which aids in muscle recovery and growth.
When you don’t get enough deep sleep, you can’t heal and grow, which results in a loss of muscle mass. This affects your overall strength and endurance during workouts and during sporting activity. One more thing: Before you drift off for a solid nine hours of deep sleep, don't forget about taking a protein shake first. That, in combination with good sleep, will help your muscles recover even more.
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If you have any anecdotes or questions/comments regarding this post, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Sleep well people!
Source: Check out The Joe Rogan Experience – Sleep Expert and Neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker.