Updated: Oct 14
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If you’ve just bought a steel macebell and now you’re wondering what on earth to do with it, this blog is for you. As well as a full-body macebell workout, which can be tailored to your fitness ability, you’ll also find tutorials of four functional macebell exercises.
In addition, I’ve outlined a range of benefits that you can expect to get from training with a macebell. An understanding of the way an exercise method can improve your fitness boosts training motivation. This in turn will make you want to do it more, which will result in more gains. A win-win!
The macebell workout concludes with a list of training tips. Here you’ll discover a few effective ways to incorporate the macebell into your exercise routine.
But first . . .
Essential kit: Best macebells >
Macebell workout fitness benefits
The chief benefit of a macebell workout is that it engages your entire body. Exercises such as splitting wood, the barbarian squat, and the 360ᴼ swing involve all the large muscle groups.
And because these highly functional exercises activate such a broad spectrum of muscles, they also stimulate your aerobic energy system. So, as well as improving muscle endurance, they can enhance cardio conditioning. (If you don’t believe me, try splitting wood for five minutes straight.)
Related: CrossFit AMRAP Workouts >
Macebell training develops multiple fitness components
Of all the resistance training tools available – machines, free weights, kettlebells, resistance bands – few develop as many components of fitness as the macebell. Take splitting wood as an example (if you haven't guessed already, this is my favourite macebell drill).
Performing this exercise, which essentially involves beating a tyre, promotes explosive power, strength, muscle endurance, cardio fitness, coordination, balance, and agility. If you split wood frequently enough, it may also improve your body composition (a health-related component that, at its essence, refers to the percentage of a person’s weight that is fat tissue).
Steel mace training benefits
If you start using your macebell regularly, aiming for at least one weekly workout, here’s a list of the fitness benefits you stand to gain.
Increased explosive power
Enhanced muscle endurance
Improved functional strength
Augmented aerobic fitness
Improved body composition
Development of the full range of fitness components
Related: Five more reasons to start Macebell Training >
We should always warm up before exercising. But, as the authors of the NSCA’s Guide to Strength Training point out, when your workout consists of complex movements and/or will be performed at high intensities, warming is imperative. For that reason, I’ve lengthened the warm-up duration and included a series of mobility exercises.
Concluding the warm-up, you’re ready to start the workout. But before picking up your macebell, there are two training options to choose between.
The first option is more for beginners or those who haven’t used their macebell for a while. Comprised of a series of sets and reps, the objective is to improve muscle endurance while providing you with an opportunity to tighten up your technique. Because the training volume and intensity are low, you can focus on your form instead of fighting fatigue.
Option two, by contrast, features a collection of AMRAPs. Thus, it’s more suited to seasoned macebell trainers. For 3, 4 or 5 minutes, your aim is to amass as many reps as possible in the allotted time. Use the macebell workout plan to document your scores. This will serve as a benchmark to compete against should you come back for a second serving.
Mace bell workout key points
Ensure to warm up thoroughly before unleashing blind fury with your macebell!
You have two training options to choose from:
Option 1: progress through the sets and reps. Focus on your form and prioritise quality over quantity.
Option 2: Select the AMRAP duration suitable for your level of fitness conditioning. Start the timer and attempt to rack up as many reps as your physicality will permit. Take a rest of no more than 50% of the chosen AMRAP duration.
Complete the bodyweight repetition ladder after each macebell exercise. Both the bodyweight movements and rep range remain the same.
If, after the macebell exercises, you have some juice in the tank, have a bash at the aerobic fitness test. Remember to record your time for prosperity.
2 min mobility exercises (shoulder rotation, trunk twists, and thrown in a minute of shadowboxing) → 4 min cardio (rowing, airdyne cycling, or skipping) → 1 up to 5 reps press-ups, air squats, and burpees → 3 min cardio → 10 reps barbarian squat → 2 min cardio → 10 reps grave digger → 1 min cardio.
Macebell workout hints and tips
You’ll have noticed that the exercises get more challenging as the plan progresses. I often organise workouts this way as I like to finish with a tough lactic acid-inducing pulse raiser. Leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and a reminder that you’ve trained. However, this method can pose problems for the beginner. The more fatigued we become the harder it is to maintain safe technique. As the quality of our form decreases, injury risk increases. With that in mind, the beginner could simply flip the exercise ordering and start with the challenging exercises while they’re still fresh.
Some may be asking, if this is billed as a macebell workout, what’s with the bodyweight exercises? They have been included for two reasons. First, to diversify the training experience. Using the same piece of kit in a session can get a bit boring. Second, interspersing simple exercises balances the plan while enabling you to reset your focus before tackling complex exercises. But feel free to omit the bodyweight stations if you want to keep this purely a macebell workout.
mace bell exercises modfication
A couple of exercises in the plan might be a touch too technical for those yet to master the macebell. Not to worry, I’ve come prepared with a few suggestions. In inexperienced hands, the 360ᴼ swing is downright dangerous. A momentary lapse of concentration and you could wind up doing a demolition job on some previously permanent structure. Stay safe and instead substitute with the kettlebell exercise around the globe. This exercise can be made safer still by whirling the kettlebell around the torso as opposed to your noggin. Either exercise works the body similarly to the 360ᴼ swing.
Related: Need Macebell Exercise ideas?
As for splitting wood, in addition to being a belligerent brute, it also imposes the added embuggerance of needing a tractor tyre. Not many gyms (public or private) have one of those kicking about. The problem is that splitting wood is a difficult exercise to replicate. You can perform the conventional cable variation (called ‘wood chops’), but they aren’t nearly as effective. It’d be like swapping a Ferrari for a horse and cart. There is the option of converting the kettlebell swing into a quasi-splitting wood. Normally, after swinging the bell level with your shoulders, you’d let gravity take over. Instead, use muscle contraction to drive the bell back down between your legs; a crude modification that somewhat simulates the action of ‘splitting.’
Steel mace training guide
Tip #1: Set aside one weekly workout for macebell training. Consider making Mondays your designated ‘macebell-only day.’ Use the above training plan as a framework for your workouts. To keep things interesting, remember to modify it each week.
Tip #2: Cap your cardio sessions with a 5-minute splitting wood AMRAP. The moment you get in after a run, set a countdown timer and wail away with all your might on that tractor tyre. (Or 360ᴼswing until you’ve gone dizzy.)
Tip #3: Replace pre-existing exercises for macebell alternatives. For example, stop doing preacher curls and instead start doing dynamic curls. The same goes for goblet squats. Bring on the barbarian!
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About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.