If you have never heard of a steel mace or mace bell, you’re not alone. These long metal rods capped with a weighted ball aren’t likely to be found in your average training studio. But that doesn’t mean they’re something new.
In fact maces have been used as a weapon and training implement for 2,000 years, which of course makes them truly primal and clearly not a fad but a tried and tested method of training and improving functional movement patterns.
This is largely due to the highly uneven distribution of weight, it’s somewhat similar to that of other “primal” training tools, such as kettlebells and clubs, but the long, narrow rod makes training variations easy to implement, as a simple change in grip position can quickly turn a beginner exercise into an extremely difficult advanced movement.
Primals benefits of using mace bells
1. Improved Grip Strength.
Grip strength – a combination of hand, finger, and forearm strength, is an often-overlooked aspect of most fitness programs. But if you think about it, grip strength is fundamental to just about everything you do. For instance basic weight training exercises – pull-ups, curls, dead lifts, and rows, all require grip strength to hold onto the bar, and they can benefit a large range of grip essential sports such as rock climbing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, cricket etc.
Because of the uneven distribution of weight, swinging a steel mace requires a strong grip, and repeated swinging, especially over the course of weeks and months will result in an increase in grip strength and an improvement in overall functional fitness.
2. Strong and Healthy Shoulders.
The shoulder girdle is the least stable joint in the entire body, leaving it open to injury
And anyone who’s active can attest that an injured shoulder wreaks havoc on a workout routine. Even basic movements, such as pushups, dips, and pull-ups become extremely difficult (even impossible) to perform with a shoulder injury.
When swung with proper form through a full range of motion, a steel mace workout can increase the strength of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint while simultaneously increasing flexibility, and most importantly strengthens the bicep longhead.
The key here guys is proper form. It’s a good idea to work with a trainer to master the movement and start with a light weight mace to ensure you don’t use the mace incorrectly or place too much stress on your shoulder.
3. Total Body Strength and Cardiovascular Conditioning.
While the obvious benefit of swinging a steel mace is upper body strength (including grip strength), the mace can also be used for total body conditioning. Like a kettlebell, certain mace bell exercises lend themselves to lower-body strength training; while other swinging movements performed for a set period of time drastically increase heart rate for an excellent cardiovascular benefit. Especially when used in HITS training, trust me.
4. Rotational Core Strength.
Many mace bell exercises require cross-body swinging motions that require extensive core engagement, particularly of the obliques. This is further amplified by the uneven distribution of the weight along the steel mace, which requires greater core engagement to control. The result is an excellent core and oblique workout and improved core strength. There are so many variations to attack the core with a mace, from multiple exercises to the smallest adjustment of the grip.
Personally I like using the mace, 1, to improve my training, but mainly because most of the movements performed transcend into every day movements we all do, no matter who you are, from the mum who always reaches around with awkward loads at all different angles to the elite level athlete who may perform their set exercises in perfect form but like everyone, twist, turn, lift, reach and move objects in an unconventional manner every day, knowingly or subconsciously.