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Other/Mixed A simple program I thought some of you might enjoy

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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AJR

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello everyone! I wanted to share a simple program I created to help me get back in shape and fight the winter blues. It's fairly minimal and can be done quickly, but it works through 5 major movement patterns and can be pretty challenging! For this workout you'll need a mace and one or two kettlebells that are a challenging weight.

The workout is composed of four exercises that focus on the 5 major movement patterns that I personally consider essential. You'll be working through the push, pull, hip hinge, squat, and loaded carry movement patterns and by the end of the workout you'll definitely feel it. The exercises are as follows -

10 to 2
This exercise uses the mace, or gada as it is traditionally known. If you've never tried mace training you should really check it out! It's an absolute blast and goes with kettlebells like peanut butter and chocolate. The 10 to 2 is the foundational movement of mace training, similar to the swing for kettlebells. The great thing about this exercise is that it works both the push and pull movement patterns and reinforces the habit of staying tight and keeping your spine strong while under load. I've seen it called the squat equivalent for the upper body and after putting in thousands of reps with it I can definitely agree. If you're unfamiliar with this movement it's better to start light and work your way up. If you need good instruction on it then I suggest looking up videos by Rik Brown on youtube.


KB SWING
We all know this one and why it's so awesome, so no real explanation needed. This covers the hip hinge pattern and can be done with single or double bells, whatever you're more comfortable with. This is more of a strength based routine so focusing on heavy weights and maximal effort while keeping the reps manageable works well here.

KB SQUAT
This is another foundational movement and a great alternative to traditional back squats. I've always had issue with barbell back squats causing pain but since switching to KB squats I've been pain free. These can be done with a single bell aka the goblet squat or with two bells in the rack position, pick whichever style you prefer. Heavy weight and max effort is the name of the game here as well, so pick a challenging weight and focus on good form throughout.

FARMER WALKS
The final exercise and one of the most simple and effective exercises a person can do for building total body strength and endurance. Pick up a heavy thing and walk with it for time or distance. If you doubt the power of this simple exercise then I recommend reading some articles about it written by Dan John. He really goes into detail about why it's so great. This can be done with anything heavy, but double kettlebells or dedicated farmer walk handles are my favorite. These fry your core, grip, and upper back and really get your heart pumping, so we save them for the end as a finisher.



I pair this selection of fundamental movements with very simple programming. You'll do 4 sets of the 10 to 2, switching your grip after each set. This prevents imbalances from developing and also trains both grip styles, left over right and right over left. You'll do 3 or 4 sets of the other 3 exercises, whichever you prefer. Reps aren't set in stone, just do what you can while maintaining good form. Once you get accustomed to these movements don't hesitate to add weight or reps as long as your form stays good. Perform this routine 2-3 days a week with quality rest, active recovery, and food and you'll be surprised at the results!

Also, if you're new to mace training and need to get one then I would strongly suggest getting an adjustable mace. They save a ton of space and money over conventional maces. My personal favorites are the Shoulderok by Kabuki Strength and the adjustable mace made by Ryan Pitts over at strongergrip.com.
 

vegpedlr

Level 6 Valued Member
Looks like fun. When I finally get around to building my gada, I’m going to do something like this. I’ll add some kind of direct push and pull moves to make it more DMPM like. Maybe Hindu squats and push ups and then give it a cool Sanskrit name for fun.

MTB strength coach James Wilson loves mace training. If it works for MTB, it should benefit lots of other sports too.
 

AJR

Level 1 Valued Member
Looks like fun. When I finally get around to building my gada, I’m going to do something like this. I’ll add some kind of direct push and pull moves to make it more DMPM like. Maybe Hindu squats and push ups and then give it a cool Sanskrit name for fun.

MTB strength coach James Wilson loves mace training. If it works for MTB, it should benefit lots of other sports too.

Overhead rotational training like mace swinging carries over into pretty much any.athletic activity imo. It reinforces good posture and really opens up your shoulders and upper back which is a problem area for a lot of folks. It helped fix nagging shoulder issues I had for years and allowed me to get back into heavy exercise. It's also easily the most fun I've ever had training. There's a rhythm and flow to mace swinging that's hard to replicate with other training methods and you genuinely feel like a warrior while you swing it around.

I can give you an example of how much mace training can carry over into other activities. I got my mace and my 53 pound kettlebells around the same time. At first I could only press the 53's for 3 shaky reps so I focused on the mace because it was a whole new world and really fun. After around 6 weeks of progressive mace swinging I decided to pick the KB's back up and pressed them for 8 solid reps without any issue, even though I hadn't touched them at all since first getting them. I was surprised to say the least and it made me realize just how well mace and kettlebell training compliment each other.
 

Steve W.

Level 8 Valued Member
+1 on mace swinging in general and on it being a great complement to KB training (and most other strenth training). I also really enjoy clubbell swinging as well, which overlaps a lot with mace swinging.

Most of my mace and CB training is done A+A style (shorter non-exhausting sets and generous enough recovery to normalize breathing and minimize local muscular fatigue) for high volume. In practice, this usually means sets of 10 reps ( such as five 10-2s, including both directions, or 5 360s in each direction) every :50 to 1:20, depending on the weight of the mace or club(s). I tend to go by the clock for this, even though I mostly go by feel for KB A+A training. I can keep this up pretty much indefinitely and typically do sessions in the range of 40-90 minutes or repeats a couple of times per week.

This is often the focus of my weekend training, along with some low intensity aerobic work. For one thing, I like to do it while watching sports on TV on the weekends. For another, I play full court basketball for a few hours most Fridays, and my lower back and legs are not always up for a lot of KB ballistics the next couple of days after that (I'm 54 years old, with bone on bone arthritis in my knees and ankles, playing with high school kids through 20-somethings). The mace swinging is pretty low stress, and both easy to recover from and comfortable to do while recovering from other stress.

During the week I will often do short mini-sessions of 8-12 repeats during breaks at work one or two times a day.

Also +1 to the strongergrip.com plate-loadable mace. I have a couple of them with different lengths and handle diameters. The plate loading system is very solid and secure. Changing plates is a bit of an annoyance, but I tend to keep them loaded with the same weight for long stretches at a time (currently 20lbs of plates plus about 12lbs for the handle).
 

AJR

Level 1 Valued Member
+1 on mace swinging in general and on it being a great complement to KB training (and most other strenth training). I also really enjoy clubbell swinging as well, which overlaps a lot with mace swinging.

Most of my mace and CB training is done A+A style (shorter non-exhausting sets and generous enough recovery to normalize breathing and minimize local muscular fatigue) for high volume. In practice, this usually means sets of 10 reps ( such as five 10-2s, including both directions, or 5 360s in each direction) every :50 to 1:20, depending on the weight of the mace or club(s). I tend to go by the clock for this, even though I mostly go by feel for KB A+A training. I can keep this up pretty much indefinitely and typically do sessions in the range of 40-90 minutes or repeats a couple of times per week.

This is often the focus of my weekend training, along with some low intensity aerobic work. For one thing, I like to do it while watching sports on TV on the weekends. For another, I play full court basketball for a few hours most Fridays, and my lower back and legs are not always up for a lot of KB ballistics the next couple of days after that (I'm 54 years old, with bone on bone arthritis in my knees and ankles, playing with high school kids through 20-somethings). The mace swinging is pretty low stress, and both easy to recover from and comfortable to do while recovering from other stress.

During the week I will often do short mini-sessions of 8-12 repeats during breaks at work one or two times a day.

Also +1 to the strongergrip.com plate-loadable mace. I have a couple of them with different lengths and handle diameters. The plate loading system is very solid and secure. Changing plates is a bit of an annoyance, but I tend to keep them loaded with the same weight for long stretches at a time (currently 20lbs of plates plus about 12lbs for the handle).

Sounds like it's working really well for you, right on! I tend to focus on higher volume sets with the 10-2's but I'm gonna give your method a try, it sounds interesting.

Another thing I've been doing lately is treating the mace as an unevenly loaded barbell. OHP's and rows take on a weird and interesting dynamic when you use them like this since the hand closest to the plates has to press or pull up while the hand furthest away has to do the opposite to keep the mace balanced. I've also been doing strict pullovers with it which are surprisingly difficult and humbling.

I agree that the strongergrip mace is a quality piece of equipment. I really like the handle diameter and large end piece on mine. The whole thing feels really solid and stable once it's locked in and I've never had it slip or loosen up on me during use. Changing weights can be a pain and I've noticed that after years of use the set screw on the handle is starting to strip, but other than that I have no complaints. I have a pair of adjustable clubs from SG as well and they're just as solid as the mace.

I got the chance to try out the kabuki shoulderok recently and it's pretty damn nice too. The length and handle diameter are different than my SG mace and the way it loads plates is much better imo. It's a lot faster and doesn't require any tools which is a big plus to me. I feel like it also has more loading potential since it takes olympic plates and the loading pin is very robust. I've been eyeing their tactical model recently since it breaks down and can be used as a club too.
 

Steve W.

Level 8 Valued Member
Another thing I've been doing lately is treating the mace as an unevenly loaded barbell. OHP's and rows take on a weird and interesting dynamic when you use them like this since the hand closest to the plates has to press or pull up while the hand furthest away has to do the opposite to keep the mace balanced.
I've played around with using the mace this way for overhead presses, bent over rows and curls. I agree they feel interesting (in a good way) and resistance does get surprisingly high as you move your grip down the handle away from the loaded end.
I got the chance to try out the kabuki shoulderok recently and it's pretty damn nice too. The length and handle diameter are different than my SG mace and the way it loads plates is much better imo. It's a lot faster and doesn't require any tools which is a big plus to me. I feel like it also has more loading potential since it takes olympic plates and the loading pin is very robust.
I've always thought the Shoulderok looked cool, but I was afraid there wasn't enough loading area. My Strongergrip plate-loadable maces can fit at least 4 10lb plates (probably more) and I don't expect to ever go that high, especially on my longer one (48" handle; actually longer than the Shoulderok since the plates go outside the end of the handle). Do you know how many olympic 10s you can get on a Shoulderok?
 

AJR

Level 1 Valued Member
I've played around with using the mace this way for overhead presses, bent over rows and curls. I agree they feel interesting (in a good way) and resistance does get surprisingly high as you move your grip down the handle away from the loaded end.

I've always thought the Shoulderok looked cool, but I was afraid there wasn't enough loading area. My Strongergrip plate-loadable maces can fit at least 4 10lb plates (probably more) and I don't expect to ever go that high, especially on my longer one (48" handle; actually longer than the Shoulderok since the plates go outside the end of the handle). Do you know how many olympic 10s you can get on a Shoulderok?

According to their website you can load 50+ pounds on it with regular plates and over 40 kg if you use calibrated plates.
 

Steve W.

Level 8 Valued Member
According to their website you can load 50+ pounds on it with regular plates and over 40 kg if you use calibrated plates.
Upon investigation, the threaded area of the Shoulderok is 2.8", not including the locking nut.

I found some postings on Bodybuilding.com by two different Shoulderok owners who stated that they could not screw the locking nut all the way on with 3 x 10lbs (using plates 13/16" thick, which is the same thickness as the ones I have and about the thinnest style of 10s that I've seen). The locking nut could screw on enough to hold the plates, but not enough for the whole locking nut to engage the threads.

I also found a video showing Chris Duffin and the guy from Wolf Brigade trying bigger single plates like a 25 and a 45. The plates fit, but I personally wouldn't want to use plates with that big a diameter. They found it awkward, and the video showed a side angle where the Wolf Brigade guy had almost no clearance between the plate and the back of his legs.

I'm already loading my 48" mace with 2 x 10lbs and often doing many hundreds of reps a session. I'm not a big guy and not that strong compared to many, but I would strongly prefer to be able to have the capacity for at least 30lbs of plates and preferably 40lbs.

I don't understand why the Shoulderok is made with such a limited capacity. It's such a nice design otherwise and it would be very easy to just make the threaded loading area longer. In fact, I came across some references to personal custom versions that Chris Duffin uses himself with more capacity. Why not just make that standard?

Edit: I emailed them to ask about a higher capacity version.
 
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Mohit Chauhan

First Post
Hi AJR,
Your plan is so much in detailed. It looks very inspiring. Also, I think including a mace in training would be a great way to strengthen your core. Thanks for the tips man!!
 

J Cox

Level 5 Valued Member
Overhead rotational training like mace swinging carries over into pretty much any.athletic activity imo. It reinforces good posture and really opens up your shoulders and upper back which is a problem area for a lot of folks. It helped fix nagging shoulder issues I had for years and allowed me to get back into heavy exercise. It's also easily the most fun I've ever had training. There's a rhythm and flow to mace swinging that's hard to replicate with other training methods and you genuinely feel like a warrior while you swing it around.

I can give you an example of how much mace training can carry over into other activities. I got my mace and my 53 pound kettlebells around the same time. At first I could only press the 53's for 3 shaky reps so I focused on the mace because it was a whole new world and really fun. After around 6 weeks of progressive mace swinging I decided to pick the KB's back up and pressed them for 8 solid reps without any issue, even though I hadn't touched them at all since first getting them. I was surprised to say the least and it made me realize just how well mace and kettlebell training compliment each other.
There is definitely a WTH effect with the mace. I could bottoms-up press a 35 but couldn't even clean the 53 to the rack bottoms up. I just did about three weeks of mace 360s, not even that many reps, about 3 days a week, and all of the sudden I was BU pressing the 53-pounders. Pullups took off, too.

At the very least, it's just a ton of fun like you said, and it really provides the icing on the KB cake.
 

SteveR

Level 5 Valued Member
I don't know if loaded Halos are discouraged but without access to a mace, do you think it would be possible to get some of the 10 to 2 WTH benefits, most specifically with the KB press, doing Halos with heavier weights?
 

J Cox

Level 5 Valued Member
I don't know if loaded Halos are discouraged but without access to a mace, do you think it would be possible to get some of the 10 to 2 WTH benefits, most specifically with the KB press, doing Halos with heavier weights?
Not really an expert here, so if someone of greater knowledge that I have jumps in, that would be more than welcome. What I can say is that the halos, while having the similar movement pattern, are not quite the ballistic a mace captures. You could always try and see what happens. Don't be afraid to experiment.
 

SteveR

Level 5 Valued Member
Not really an expert here, so if someone of greater knowledge that I have jumps in, that would be more than welcome. What I can say is that the halos, while having the similar movement pattern, are not quite the ballistic a mace captures. You could always try and see what happens. Don't be afraid to experiment.
I think I will but I suspect it won't take too much loading up before my form will degrade. That may be why it's promoted as a warm up
 
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