When most people think about exercise equipment, they picture dumbbells or barbells. There are plenty of advantages that come with using these conventional tools, but you can also enjoy a lot of benefits by trying other types of equipment, such as a steel mace or mace bell.
Are you unsure of how to use these? If so, listed below are some examples of steel mace exercises you can try today.
1. Overhead Press
When you’re first getting started with steel mace training, it’s important to master the basics. Before you can move onto the more advanced exercises you might see on social media, you need to get comfortable doing beginner-friendly exercises like the overhead press.
The steel mace overhead press is very similar to an overhead press you’d do with a barbell. It’s fundamental to your ability to do other, more advanced exercises with correct form, so don’t skip over it.
Keep these cues in mind when doing a mace bell overhead press:
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart
- Hold the steel mace with both hands, palms facing forward, at about chest level
- Inhale and pull your shoulder blades down and back
- Exhale and press the mace overhead in a straight line
- Keep your core pulled in, squeeze your glutes, and don’t let your lower back arch or ribs flare out when lifting the mace
- Inhale and lower the mace back down to the starting position
Be sure to perform this exercise on both sides (with the macehead or round end of the mace bell facing both directions). This will help you work on all sides of the body equally and avoid imbalances.
2. Front Squat
The steel mace front squat is another staple exercise you ought to master before moving on to more advanced lower body or full-body mace bell exercises. Start by holding the mace in the same position you did when setting up for the overhead press (feet hip-distance, both hands in front of the chest, palms facing forward, etc.). Then, follow these steps:
- Inhale, brace your core, and lower into a squat
- Keep the torso and chest lifted (don’t let the body collapse forward when lowering)
- Squat as low as you’re able while still keeping a straight back and lifting the chest
- From here, exhale and push into the floor as you rise back up to the starting position
- Be sure to perform this exercise with the round end of the steel mace facing both directions
3. High Hinge Row
Mastering the mace bell high hinge row will help you to strengthen the upper back and arm muscles. This will come in handy when you start doing more complex mace exercises.
Keep these cues in mind when doing the high hinge row:
- Stand with the feet hip-width apart, holding the mace bell in both hands (palms facing toward you)
- Inhale and hinge at the hips and send them back behind you as you bend your knees and lower the mace down toward the floor (stop when it lines up with the upper or middle part of your shins)
- Brace your core, then exhale and pull the mace bell toward your torso, retracting your shoulder blades as you do so
- Inhale and return the mace to the original position
- Be sure to perform this exercise on both sides to prevent any imbalances
As you get comfortable with the mace bell clean, you’ll start to feel more comfortable doing other exercises that require you to generate a lot of power and move the mace quickly. Here are some guidelines to help you master the clean:
- Start in the same position as you would for the steel mace row (feet hip-distance, mace bell held in front of the body, palms facing you)
- Hinge at the hips slightly and bend your knees (the mace should sit just above the knees)
- Inhale and brace your core
- On an exhale, simultaneously extend (straighten) the knees and hips while pulling the mace up to shoulder height
- Rotate your elbows and flip your hands when doing this so that the palms face forward (as though you’re setting up to do an overhead press)
- Perform the steel mace clean on both sides
5. Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is a true full-body exercise. It targets the arms, shoulders, core, and legs all at once.
To perform this exercise, set up the same way you would for a front squat or overhead press, with the steel mace held in front of the chest and the palms facing forward. From here, follow these cues:
- Inhale and brace your core
- Then, exhale and press the mace up overhead
- Keep your core engaged and ribs pressed down and together (don’t let them flare out)
- Inhale and lower your body down into a squat, keeping the torso lifted
- When you reach the bottom of the squat, exhale, press into the ground with your feet, and rise up to a standing position once more
- Be sure to change the position of the mace halfway through to target both sides of the body equally
6. Spear Press
When you start getting comfortable holding the mace with both hands, you’ll be able to start experimenting with single-arm and single-side exercises. A good one to try first is the spear press.
Keep these instructions in mind when doing the spear press for the first time:
- Start by standing with the feet about shoulder-distance
- Hold the mace in your right hand with your hand positioned just below the macehead (the macehead should be sitting close to your shoulder with your palm facing inward)
- Inhale and draw your shoulders down and back while bracing the core
- Straighten the arm as you exhale and press the mace straight up overhead
- Don’t adjust your shoulder or pelvic position while pushing the mace up and away from you
- Inhale and return to the starting position
- Repeat on the other side
7. Side Load Reverse Lunge
The side load reverse lunge is a more challenging full-body exercise that really targets your core and lower body. Start by holding the mace as you would at the beginning of a high hinge row (feet shoulder-distance, mace held close to the body with arms straight and palms facing you). Then, follow these cues:
- Inhale and twist your arms so that you’re holding the mace on one side of the body, parallel to the floor
- Try not to rotate your torso (keep your chest pointing forward)
- Take a step backward, lowering into a reverse lunge
- Stop lowering when your back knee is about an inch or so away from the ground
- Exhale, push into the floor, and return to the starting position (keep the mace held on the side of the body)
- Perform this exercise with the mace held on both sides of the body
8. Split Stance Side Row
The split stance side row is another option if you’re looking for drills that will prepare you for more advanced mace bell exercises.
Begin in the same position that you started for the side load reverse lunge, with the mace held on one side of the body, torso pointing forward. Hold the mace so that the macehead is pointed toward the right. From here, follow these instructions:
- Inhale, hinge at your hips, and take a step back with your left leg, balancing on the ball of the left foot (keep the leg straight)
- Your torso should form about a 45-degree angle, and the mace should line up with your right leg
- Keep your left arm straight as you exhale and row with your right arm, bending at the elbow and pulling the mace up toward your shoulder
- Repeat this exercise on both sides, making sure to switch the direction in which the macehead is pointing
9. Mace 360
Once you’ve mastered these exercises, you should feel more confident about using the mace in unique ways. This includes rotational exercises like the mace 360, a must-master before you can move on to other, more advanced drills.
Keep these cues in mind when doing the mace 360 for the first time:
- Stand with the feet hip-distance apart and holding the mace vertically in front of you
- Stack your hands and start with them close to your navel, right on top of left
- Swing the mace up over the left shoulder while keeping the ribs tucked and the elbows close the torso
- On the back part of the swing, make sure the hands are as low behind the head as possible
- When the mace reaches the opposite shoulder, use momentum to pull it over and back to the starting position (keep the ribs tucked and don’t let them flare)
- Pause for a second, then repeat
- Be sure to adjust your hand position and direction of the mace halfway through
It’s helpful for beginners to choke up on the mace when first starting. This is especially useful if it feels too heavy.
This is another staple mace bell exercise to add to your routine, especially if you’re hoping to work on your shoulder health. Here are some cues to help you perform it correctly:
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart with the mace held vertically in front of you
- Stack your hands with you right on top, holding them close to your navel
- Swing your mace over your left shoulder (at your 10 o’clock)
- Keep the ribs tucked and don’t let the elbows flare
- Bring your hands low and behind your head as you swing the mace around toward the other side
- When the mace reaches your 2 o’clock position, pause for a second, then swing it back over the same shoulder and return to 10 o’clock once more
- Be sure to perform this exercise in the opposite direction as well, moving from 2-to-10
11. Joust with Lunge
The joust with lunge is similar to the side load reverse lunge, except you’ll be taking a step forward instead of backward.
Start by holding the mace in a side-loaded position on the right side. Make sure the palm of the hand closest to the macehead is facing up, while the palm of the other hand is facing down. Then, follow these cues:
- Take a big step forward with your left foot as you inhale
- Keep your back straight and torso perpendicular to the forward
- Joust the mace forward (press it forward as though you’re a swordfighter)
- Exhale and press into the front foot as you return to the starting position
- Be sure to perform this exercise on both sides
12. Single-Arm 360
When you’ve mastered some of these more advanced two-arm mace exercises, it’ll be time to move on to single-arm options, including the single-arm 360. This exercise is great for leveling up your shoulder health, as well as your single-arm strength and mobility.
Here are some guidelines to help you with this exercise:
- Begin as you would for the two-arm steel mace 360, with feet hip-distance apart, mace held vertically, hands stacked on top of each other at the navel
- Remove your top hand while keeping the mace centered vertically
- Swing the mace up over your shoulder, keeping the ribs pulled together and the core drawn in
- When the mace reaches the opposite shoulder, use momentum to swing it over and return to the starting position
- Perform this exercise with both hands
Give These Steel Mace Exercises a Whirl Today
As you can see, there are lots of ways to use a mace bell in your workouts. Be sure to keep this list of steel mace exercises in mind as you get used to this new piece of equipment and start exercising with it on a regular basis.