When we first saw this Steel Mace, a new piece of primitive workout equipment from fitness startup Set for Set, we thought, “Damn, that looks cool. But how the f*ck do you use it?”
So we gave one to Equinox high-intensity interval trainer Matthew Murawski, who teaches classes with kettlebells, the mace’s newer-school cousin.
“The Mace takes me back to my roots of swinging an ax to split wood back in Ohio,” he says. “It’s a great piece of equipment because it helps broaden and open the shoulders. You still get your heart pumping while getting extra mobility in a way that you can't really get with a kettlebell or a dumbbell or any other type of equipment.”
Below, Murawski lays out a six-step workout that'll have you swinging hammers like The Mountain.
What to Know Before You Get Started ...
First: do it outside or someplace that’s padded. Next, work this into your routine about twice a week. “You don't want to overwhelm your body,” Murawski says. “It's a skill piece, unlike a dumbbell or body bar; do it about twice a week and you'll get comfortable and have fun with it.”
The movements selected below involve your legs, core and upper body. It's a strength workout, and all exercise should be performed in 50-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off intervals. Beginners: switch sides for one-armed exercises like the swing-to-catch, so do 25 and 25. From there, work up to 50/10 on each side.
And download an interval tracker so you have a clock that bounces back and forth. And be sure to build in a little warmup and cool-down time to help you get started.
- Get a nice, close grip with both hands towards the end of the Mace.
- Bring it up over your head like you're going for the skullcrusher, then swing it back and forth like a grandfather clock.
- You should feel it through the triceps, lats and traps.
- Extend the mace swing as wide as possible: you want to feel an open range of motion through the upper body.
The Mace Halo
“The halo is basically an add on to the pendulum. The quicker you get, the easier it gets, so the first time you do this, it's going to be more intensive.”
- Get a nice, close grip near the base of the handle.
- Drop the weight behind your back and swing it right back up into the holding position.
- Again, extrend the range of motion, swinging the elbows around your head like you would with a kettlebell.
The Rebel Press
“The rebel press is one of my favorites because you get to feel like a warrior. This is a great shoulder twist; you're really getting the arm to rotate. Also helps for grip strength and wrist strength.”
- One hand close to the head of the mace, the other hand in an overhand grip towards the base.
- Curl, twist, overhead.
- As you bring it back down, flip the head to switch your hand positions.
- Alternate side to side.
Swing to Catch
“Swing to catch is the most advanced move in this set. Think advanced kettlebell swing.”
- Start by swinging them mase like you would a kettlebell, on the outside of your leg, single arm.
- Once you feel strong and steady with the implement, try flipping it to catch the head of the mace in your hand.
- Then flip it back, catching the handle of the mace.
Note: Move slowly at first, and make sure you're in a very open space. The closer you hold to the weight, the more control you'll have. The farther you get from the head of the mace, the more difficult it will be to catch it. As you start to progress, you'll move your hand away from the weight to get better extension.
“Think of just doing your regular, basic squat, but now it's uneven, right? It's going to embrace the obliques on each side.”
- Head of the mace in one hand, base in the other. Flip it from side to side as you squat, such that the head of the mase dips when you dip.
- You'll get more core engagement than a regular squat thanks to the uneven weight.
- Alternate left to right with the weight, so that you don't just develop one side of the body.
The Lunge Press Away
“Looking at it, not one of your most advanced moves, but this is one of the hardest ones. Offers lots of variations: the lower you grip on the mace, the harder it's going to be, because it's going to play with the center of gravity. he higher you grip on the mace, the more stable it will be.”
- The straighter you extend your elbows, the harder it will be on your core.
- If you need more support, grip a little higher and bend the elbows a bit. Once you're a little more advanced, you want a low grip, arms fully extended with a nice twist over the bent knee.
- Remember on this one to keep the shoulders pulled back, like you're pressing up against a wall.
Finisher: Jump Rope
Go for 30 second bursts, but if you're a more advanced jump roper, go 45 seconds to a minute. Do that three times through. Set for Set has a speed rope that’s great because it’s very thin and lightweight. That'll help you get the speed up.