If you haven’t heard of a steel mace you’re not alone. These long metal rods capped with a weighted ball aren’t found very often in your standard gym or training studio. But like a lot of select tools we use at my studio, Taylored Training Fitness, each and every new piece of equipment (ie. the trx, viprs, kettlebells) there is a direct purpose and intent to improve the health and fitness of our members.
The mace has been a training implement for thousands of years, and were actually a favorite training tool for combat, but there are a number of reasons we have selected the mace as a new training tool at our studio:
#1 – To Improve Grip Strength
Grip strength, as noted in numerous studies is a known indicator of life expectancy. Because of the uneven distribution of the mace, working with the mace requires a strong grip. There is also ample opportunity to use a single hand grip and carry work to improve grip strength which also translates into better grip for deadlifts and pull-ups, and strength for functional life tasks like loaded carries and the elusive and impressive ‘jar opens’.
#2 – Strong and Healthy Shoulders are so important, especially in today’s tech age.
The shoulder girdle is the least stable joint in your entire body making it susceptible to injury. With more time hunched over our cell phones, computers and laptops, shoulder health is of the utmost importance in this day and tech age.
Executing the mace swing through a full range of movement you can drastically work on increasing the strength of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint while simultaneously increasing shoulder mobility.
**The key thing to note of course is executing perfect form with your mace swings.
#3 – Accelerate your total body strength and conditioning
Similar to the kettlebell, mace training forces the engagement of multiple muscles to work at the same time, maximizing caloric output and providing an intense strength and conditioning session!
Certain mace exercises, like the barbarian squat, lend themselves to lower-body strength training; while other swinging movements performed for a set period of time drastically increase your heart rate for an excellent cardiovascular benefit.
Mace training works the entire body with dynamic and coordinated movement. It’s almost like a crescendo of movements: the shoulders pushing, the lats and biceps pulling, the lower body lunging and or squatting all with an active core and strong grip.
You get the superficial pros of being leaner and stronger complimented with an intense metabolic conditioning workout!
#4 – Rotational Core Strength
Working with the mace requires extensive core engagement, particularly of the obliques. This is further amplified by the offload/uneven distribution of weight along the steel mace, which requires greater core engagement, control and grip strength.
Many fitness programs focus exclusively on frontal plane movements (think Olympic lifting, bicep curls, squats) with slight inclusion of sagittal plane movements (lunges, single leg RDL’s). Your fitness program should include rotation work and movement in all three planes. This is so critical to your long-term flexibility, mobility, strength and agility.
A good mace program demands work in all three planes of movement as well as demanding rotational core strength absolutely needed for everyday life AND also helpful for improving your golf, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, hockey and lacrosse game.
The basic movement, the 360 is a push-pull exercise, which taxes the entire body. The challenge of most strength training exercises is a fight against gravity but mostly happens in a single plane vertical pattern. Mace work incorporates twisting, pulling against centrifugal force and working through multiple planes of movement; one of the huge reasons we have fallen in love with this training tool.
#5 – Mastering a new challenge, coordinated movement, balance and mental focus.
So often we train new members who come to us because they are bored with their fitness. We get it! Endless cardio sessions and machine training IS boring! Learning and mastering a new tool is incredibly important to keep motivated and interested in your fitness. On top of having something new and fun to learn, the mace provides ample opportunity for improving hand-eye coordination, balance, agility and focus.