Latest posts by Rich Thurman MA, CSCS CPT, ONNIT KB Specialist (see all)
- Steel Mace Training: 3 Exercises For A Bigger Bench Press - April 20, 2016
- Steel Mace Training: What Is It? - March 28, 2016
- 10 Most Common Fitness Training Mistakes for Beginners - December 28, 2015
Steel Mace Training, The Fitness Continuum & Bigger Bench Presses
I’ve taken a lot of Yoga over the last few years in search of finding the cross section between Strength, Mobility and the Mind Body connection. Recently, through a variety of experiences, I’ve finally been able to mentally grasp and verbally begin to articulate what I will refer to as the “Fitness Continuum”
The Fitness Continuum is what I consider to be a space where, like in our political structure there are two extremes like an Extreme Right and Extreme Left.
It doesn’t matter what you place on the ends of the extremes. Any activity, belief system or type of Fitness program that considers itself to be the “end all, be all”; Isn’t open to new ideas and concepts; Has Dogmatic practices; Is unwilling to evolve or take in what is useful can be placed somewhere along the Continuum.
Many systems that are unwilling to accept other concepts and ideas and are unwilling to find overlap and commonality have isolationist views.
They build walls around themselves and try to keep their followers/practitioners from having access to other ideas and concepts.
They preach that their way is the best way and the only way when in actuality, there are many ways and in actuality you may find useful strategies in unlikely places that enhance your own system/approach.
There’s always gonna be a few people that go seeking more and take that Red Pill.
I’m a Red Pill taker and I took it quite a long time ago in my quest not only for Strength and Mobility, but to just feel better.
I love Barbells, Kettlebells, Sandbags, etc… Pretty much I love anything that’s gonna challenge my body.
I kept digging deeper and experienced the Steel Mace’s full potential and fell in love with what it has done in such a short time to all my other forms of training.
The Steel Mace has bridged a huge gap for my body that has been missing for such a long time.
Let’s apply the potential of Steel Mace Training to Barbell Training:
I was posting video of my Bench Press progress a couple years ago on my Instagram Feed and my first coach who introduced me to weightlifting told me “crush the bar”, “straighten my wrists and close your hand like I was punching the ceiling” and “pull the bar apart”… These were great tips that significantly improved my Bench numbers.
But why did my numbers go up?
Well, firstly I engaged my grip strength instead of just letting the bar just rest on my palms, which created two issues:
My wrist was taking a lot of the load from the weight and increased potential for wrist injury.
Not locking in the bar in with the thumbs leaves potential for the bar to roll off the palm and onto the chest. It’s never a good thing to have 300 pounds roll off onto your chest.
Pulling the bar apart engages the lats, providing a strong base of support for pressing.
These were great cues, but may be difficult to mentally wrap your head around for a novice.
- How do I practice these without laying on a bench?
- How do I establish a deeper connection to a bar; a deeper connection to the Lats and improve motor unit recruitment to a broader range of the musculature?
- How do I improve core engagement and stability necessary to generate maximal pressing strength?
Enter the Steel Mace
I recently started a Steel Mace Class in San Francisco and the first class only had one participant. That was totally ok as I believe that building a Steel Mace Army starts with just a few committed participants. This gave me an opportunity to pour all of my knowledge into one vessel, maximizing all the potential he could possibly get in 50 minutes.
Physically, you could tell that this guy was an experienced lifter. So I asked him what he likes to do as far as Strength Training.
He told me that he’s done some CrossFit and generally likes to lift. He enjoys Kettlebells and things like that. So the reason he was even in my class is because he had taken the Red Pill and took a flier.
He had never heard of the Steel Mace, but thought it may be interesting.
He told me that he was in Tech and was concerned about Tech Shoulders. This is the term used here in San Francisco to describe forward shoulder posture from sitting at a desk, typing on a computer all day.
He also told me initially that he had rotator cuff issues.
So after some initial shoulder mobilization and warmup activities, we worked on holding the Steel Mace, proper grip and muscle recruitment.
After we finished about 15 minutes of this, he told me that he felt areas of his muscles that he never really used or couldn’t really engage during Pullups and other activities.
He also told me that his shoulders felt great!
Just the simple act of gripping the Steel Mace, pulling apart to “create weight where there is no weight” and pulling the scapulae down and back allowed him to not only work on his posture, but to engage the same musculature he would normally use in support of his Bench Press and Pullups.
The offset weight allows us to root out unilateral weaknesses. Your body has to be able do the same work on either side to maintain stability. This is something that cannot be achieved with a Bar, Dumbell or even Kettlebell as the body will find a way to cheat. The mace gives you a visual of the cheat as the bar shifts to one side or doesn’t remain level.
The offset weight also challenges the muscles around the hips to maintain even balance and prevent hip rotation (anti-rotation). The abs have to work to stabilize and prevent lateral shifting.
Pressing strength with my clients has also improved with just 4 to 6 weeks of supplemental Steel Mace Training.
I’ve had great results with my personal Bench Press (maintaining overall pressing strength at 4×4 205lbs despite losing 20lbs of bodyweight and weighing in now at 165lbs). Pushup stability and Pressing strength with my clients has also improved with just 4 to 6 weeks of supplemental Steel Mace Training.
Try adding these 3 supplemental Steel Mace exercises to your overall training to help improve your nervous system performance, overall focus and muscle recruitment.
Pre workout Motor Recruitment
Do 2 or 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps in preparation for your big lifts in order to fire up the nervous system in preparation.
Integrate higher volume training into your overall program (non lifting days) in order to work on muscular endurance and structural integrity.
- Standing Scapular Holds
- Standing Overhead Press
- Offset Rows
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