The functional strength and fitness benefits of macebell training have long been understood. Boxers of old used a similar exercise method during pre-fight conditioning.
But instead of beating a tractor tyre with a lump of iron, they chopped wood with a weighted axe. Exactly the same fitness outcomes: awesome explosive power, indomitable muscle endurance and immense cardio capacity.
However, there are a few slight differences. Macebell training isn’t as hard-wearing on the body and is more physically taxing. Also, you don’t have to worry about catching a shard of wood in the eye.
steel mace training is enjoying a comeback
Macebell training is an old form of exercise that is enjoying a comeback. There’s a reason for this.
The resurgence of this old-school exercise method is evidenced by the number of contemporary fighters integrating the macebell in their training regime.
Most notably, the legendary pride fighter Fedor Emelianenko trained with the macebell. There are videos of Fedor’s pre-fight training routine where he can be seen smashing a mace into a tractor tyre. No doubt this tough form of exercise conditioning helped prepare him for combat.
So, if you’re a fighter, whether it’s MMA, boxing, Muay Thai, or a Martial Art, consider taking your training to the next level with the macebell.
Related: Check out the best functional fitness training kit
Macebell training is for all fitness enthusiasts
But macebell training isn’t reserved solely for fighters. Anyone who wants to develop whole-body functional strength, muscular endurance, and burn fat can and should start macebell training.
In addition, macebell training offers an unconventional exercise methodology that works the body in different ways.
If you do decide to start macebell training, here’s just some of the fitness benefits you stand to gain:
More macebell benefits
Burns a hell of a lot of calories
Builds functional upper body strength
Enhances muscle endurance
Develops explosive power
Sends the heart rate through the roof
Diversifies your training approach
Works the body in unconventional ways
Macebell benefits core strength
One of the most notable macebell benefits is how it develops cast iron core strength. More or less every macebell movement in some way involves the core muscles.
When swinging the macebell during a tyre slam, which is an explosive whole-body exercise, the muscles of the core are continually engaged. In this capacity core muscles stabilise and help control the macebell as it is swung overhead and smashed into the tyre.
Other exercises, such as ‘wood chops’ or standing Russian twists, almost exclusively activate the core. The twisting movement that these two exercises involve is driven by the internal and external obliques, the transverse abdominus, and the rectus abdominus.
If you’re looking to sculpt lean defined abdominals, stop doing sit-ups and start macebell training.
Macebell benefits fat loss
Few exercises facilitate fat loss like the macebell. But then this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. For few exercises engage as many muscle groups or activate as many components of fitness.
For example, when macing the begeebus out of a tyre, you will use a myriad of muscle groups, including those of the back, core, quads, and a whole host of synergists. This army of muscle is extremely calorie hungry.
Another way that macebell benefits fat loss is by engaging the cardiovascular system. In addition to being a strength and muscle endurance exercise, macebell training also taps into the aerobic energy system, which is fuelled by oxygen and stored fat.
Macebell benefits grip strength
If you want vice-like grip strength, then you must start macebell training. Every macebell exercise engages the muscles of the forearms; even when performing the Barbarian squat, you’re gripping the mace constantly.
Improving grip strength isn’t just beneficial for mace training. A strong grip can enhance performance across all forms of exercise, including weightlifting, CrossFit, circuit training, and sports.
Start training if you want the macebell benefits
Firstly, before you start macebell training, there is one thing you need: a macebell. In this video demonstration, I’m using a 12kg Power Guidance macebell, which is by far the best macebell on the market. Having used it extensively for over 5-years, it’s still as solid (and shiny) as the day I bought it.
When you’ve got a macebell you can start incorporating it into your training routine. I only ever use my macebell for tyre slams (also known as ‘splitting wood’). Tyre slams, which, as the name implies, involves beating a tyre with the macebell, is one of the best fitness developing exercises out there.
However, there are loads of other exercises you can do with this versatile training tool; many of which do not involve a tractor tyre.
Tyre slams (aka splitting wood)
The tyre slam stimulates pretty much every muscle in the body. But this simple exercise also provides a great cardio workout. They make for a killer station in a circuit or HIIT workout. However, tyre slams are best completed as an AMRAP. Set a 5- or 10-minute countdown timer and see how many slams you can accrue.
How to ‘split wood’ safely
Ensure that there is plenty of space around you
Use training gloves for added grip
After hitting the tyre pull the macebell wide to your side so as to steer it away from your shins
Bend the knees slightly as you hit the tyre – this improves control
An undeniably ominous name, grave diggers develop awesome core and lower back strength. Here you’re simply mimicking the action of digging. With the macebell head acting as the spade, you are shovelling imaginary clods of dirt over your head. And though you’ll feel like a complete prat, you’ll get a hell of a workout.
Why this macebell exercise is called a barbarian squat I couldn’t say. However, it is very similar to the kettlebell goblet squat. Like that exercise the macebell is supported at your front while you execute a perfect squat. Squatting in this way engages a wider range of muscles because you are required to use upper body strength to stabilise the macebell.
The sparse technical underpinnings of the spear stab do not need much explaining. If you’ve ever watched the film 300, just impersonate one of the Spartan warriors spear stabbing Persian foe.
Mace gripping exercises
Probably the most static exercise of the bunch, gripping involves holding the mace at your front and, employing a hand-over-hand movement, raising and lowering the macebell. As well as developing grip strength, this exercise also works the biceps, anterior deltoids and core muscles.
Around the world (360)
Taking the macebell at the base of the handle, you are swinging it around your head like a person possessed. But what possible benefits could be derived from this exercise? Around the worlding is a superlative core strengthening exercises. Moreover, it forges functional physicality as you are required to engage more or less every muscle to control the mace as you whir it around your noggin. Word of warning with this exercise: do not practice it near your ma’s fine China.
When performing a dynamic curl, you’re kind of emulating the action of a metronome. Holding the macebell at your front with one hand, the head of the mace uppermost, allow it to drop to the side of the free arm. Catching the macebell at hip height, curl it back up to the erect position. It is at this point that you must swop hands so that you can repeat to the opposite side.
Macebell benefits FAQ
Best macebell weight?
This is a tricky question to answer and depends largely on how you plan to use your macebell. For example, if you see yourself sticking to those exercises that do not involve hitting a tyre, then perhaps go for a heavier mace. It’s likely that a light mace will not offer the level of resistance that you’re currently used to.
However, if you’ve got a spare tyre kicking about which you plan to beat the living daylights out of, it might be sensible to select a lighter mace. Why? Well, when you swing that macebell over your head the acceleratory forces generated significantly increase the weight.
Probably the best beginner weight, is the 5kg Power Guidance macebell. This weight will enable you to perform the entire range of macebell exercises.
What is a macebell used for?
The macebell is used as a strength and conditioning training tool. Due to the dynamic nature of the macebell, you are able to engage the body in ways you can’t do with conventional resistance equipment: dumbbells, barbells, and exercise machines.
Macebell training can be used as part of a general fitness regime, where the exerciser incorporates macebell movements into their workouts. But also, macebell training is ideal for combat sports practitioners. The explosive, high-intensity exercises can help forge powerful physicality.