Educational

The GADA/MACE + SHOULDERÖK™

8 Jun , 2018  

Warriors would very skilfully navigate the battlefield, swinging the Gada and killing their enemy with one single blow. If you wanted to handle a bigger Gada you had to be bigger, stronger and more skilled than any other warrior at the time. 

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The Gada or Mace has been consistently utilized throughout history in many different ways, serving different purposes and types of cultures and people. Well, guess what? It has come back around for another swing! Although it may be serving us in a slightly different way than before, it’s still badass and a tool that will make you stronger. You may have noticed the ever-increasing attention these long heavy instruments have received, so let’s unpack why the Mace/Gada could change your lifting game!

(For powerlifters only wanting to learn about the mobilization benefits, skip to point 3 below)

 

SO WHAT IS A GADA/MACE?

A Gade/Mace is a type of club/weapon that has the ability to deliver powerful blows due to its designed. Consisting of a handle, a long shaft and an extremely heavy object on the end usually made of bronze, stone, copper, iron or steel. It is believed to have been developed during the Upper Paleolithic from a simple club and made popular throughout India, South Asia, Europe, America, and Egypt.

So you may be wondering how this can help you with your fitness/lifting goals? Well, it can! but let’s first take a quick look through the history of the Gade/Mace.

 

A QUICK LOOK AT HISTORY:
​​
The Gada was heavily popularised throughout India and South Asia as a weapon that was largely recognized as a symbol of strength and status. Only the strongest warriors would train with these big, burly, weighty weapons and invest countless hours into mastering what was considered a very skillful craft. They would very skilfully navigate the battlefield, swinging the gada and killing people with one single blow. If you wanted to handle a bigger Gada you had to be bigger, stronger and more skilled than any other warrior.

At the time the Gada became closely associated with Hindu Mythology, with countless ‘gods’ yielding the weapon. It became so popular that they created and based a Martial Art on it, which is called ‘Gada-Yuddha’. As time went on the Gada became a highly recognized weapon that was respected by other warriors both domestic and abroad.


Although this weapon is believed to have originated in India, there were other countries and cultures that utilized it in their own unique way. During medieval times it became very popular throughout Europe and was used as a weapon during combat against opposing warriors. These big, heavy weapons would not only pack a hefty punch but heavily damage the thick armor that was worn and they were incredibly effective. However as time went on the Mace became less and less useful – as technology advanced, it no longer became a viable weapon for combat. The tradition of the mace, however, stayed relevant as high-ranking Sergeants would carry them as a symbol of the King’s authority. To this day you can see traces of the Mace throughout the world as well as still being swung in South Asia.

 

THE RISE OF THE MACE:

​​As time went on and we approached the modern-day, the mace began to draw some attention as it was incorporated into HIIT workouts as a fitness tool. A big steel mace could be swung, pressed, thrown, squatted with and even used as a hammer for explosive hits. It soon started popping up in the warehouse and CrossFit gyms all over America and was used for these purposes. It then made its way into the KettleBell community… seriously though, search #mace on Instagram and see how many people are peaking over these things! Us powerlifters now have a Mace of our own flying around from Chris Duffin and his team over at KabukiStrength.com. Chris has an incredible mind and has contributed to the powerlifting community in so many ways, he is an absolute beast and recently held the all-time raw (with wraps) world record with an 881-pound squat at 220-pounds bodyweight. Chris brought the Gada and Mace into the strength training and powerlifting community, helping people with his product the SHOULDERÖK™. Working with powerlifters all over the world this tool has become pretty popular.

 

The applicability of the mace in modern-day is generally boiled down to 3 things:
1. Overall strength training + core stability
2. Various types of HIIT training drills
3. Shoulder health and mobility 

 

1. OVERALL STRENGTH TRAINING:

Now, I don’t know you if you’ve swung a heavy mace before – but damn that thing makes you hurt ALL over. Similar to traditional training, you can use the mace within the guidelines of linear progression and sets x reps. You throw the beast up and let is flow and you swing that bad boy around you…your forearms, triceps, biceps, back, core, shoulders and more will be challenged to the core and aching for days afterward. I find that developing this type of strength is very functional for day-to-day life and sports performance, fighters/wrestling or grappling etc it honestly just makes you a bad ass. 

 

2. VARIOUS TYPES OF HIIT TRAINING DRILLS:

It is a long steel pole with a heavy ball on the end – get creative! As I said above, you can use this thing to perform an array of high intensity, functional, ballistic and plyometric style movements. Tick tocks, 360s, 10 and 2s, tornadoes or Throwing it, hitting with it, pressing it, squatting it, swinging it and more.. before I go any further I’ll leave it up to the Kettlebell kings to get creative, but you get the idea.

For more ideas here are some Instagram accounts who get pretty creative:

@Eastbournemacemovement
@Maceman
@Tedhammers
@Kettlecam
@Zrawkirch
@Steelmaceexercises

 

3. SHOULDER HEALTH AND MOBILITY:

Well… I brought you this far and this is where things get interesting.
If you are a strength athlete, weightlifter, bodybuilder or powerlifter – this tool CAN help you.
Throughout history there was no doubt that swinging the mace increased shoulder strength, movement and mobility and the warriors swinging these things had the most robust, stable shoulders ever. We may not be on the battlefield, but we are handling massive amounts of weight, volume, intensity and putting our shoulders through hell with very little prehab or rehab protocols or planning.

THE MACE: HEALTHY SHOULDERS.

Shoulder injuries are extremely common, and no wonder when you look at how we treat them. The shoulder girdle is highly flexible and mobile, it has a great range of motion that has allowed humans to do incredible things over the course of history. However, with extra mobility comes great instability. That’s right, you heard me… the shoulder socket (Glenohumeral) is nothing like its big brother the hip-joint (Acetabulum/Femur) when it comes to stability, so we have to take this into consideration when training. There is also a lot going on within that shoulder girdle, the clavicle running into the Acromion (AC joint), the Bursa sacks, Coracoid process, the Subacromial space and the scapula floating around for good measure… all these things can develop inflammation and cause pain when functioning incorrectly or too much. A lot of the time we put our shoulders through hell with very little thought to injury prevention, mobilization or even post workout active recovery.

If you are a powerlifter doing large amounts of bench press volume, you need a plan for your shoulders. You may be okay right now, but you WILL run into problems if you don’t take some precautionary steps. Pressing from a horizontal position isn’t all that anatomically efficient or pleasant on the human body. We find ways to work around it by adjusting our form/elbow and scapula positioning which in return makes the movement more useful. Don’t get me wrong, the Bench press can be an incredibly safe and beneficial movement, it just takes some extra care. Refer to my article ‘Bench Press Bar Path’ for more information on how to press safely.

What does the Mace do then?
It passively and actively takes your shoulders through a controlled external/internal rotation, abduction/adduction, flexion, and extension. This requires you to relax and contract at the right times supporting both mobility and strength/stability within the shoulder girdle. The interaction between muscle contraction and passive rotation creates a strong healthy shoulder. There is definitely a technique and a rhyme and reason to it, however, so don’t just start swinging it around just yet.

This is a different technique and application to how you would swing it for max weight, low reps or even in battle.

 

HOW DO I SWING THE MACE?

A) Start by swinging the mace in front of you gathering momentum like a pendulum. With a snap of the wrist begin to feel what how the mace moves when utilizing momentum to manipulate its movement. Building speed continues with this exercise until the mace is swinging into a complete 90-degree angle to the floor, proceed for a few minutes then stop.

B) Next, we perform the exact same movement but with the mace behind us with our hands behind and over our head holding onto the mace. This is now the traditional positioning of the mace. These are called ‘Tick Tocks’. Using momentum begin to swing the mace back and forth gathering control and speed. Be mindful of your rib cage position, you don’t want this flaring out – work on drawing the ribcage down and keeping it aligned with the pelvis, enhancing stability. Once you reach the 90-degree angle, continue for a few minutes then stop.

C) Now we are going to perform the bread and butter of mace swings, the 360.
Pick up the mace and hold it upright in front of you like a sword, at first you will need to concentrate on balancing the mace. Place your right hand above your left hand and have the little finger of your left hand in line with your belly button: this is the rack position. Use chalk to get a strong solid grip on the shaft, you don’t want this thing to slip out of your hands.
– Take a deep breath and brace your abdominal muscles as you draw your ribcage down into a strong tight neutral position.
– While balancing in the rack position begin to drop the mace down the left side of your body.
– Keeping your torso rigid and ribcage down keep your forearm and humerus at a 90-degree angle throughout the swing.
– As the ball or weight of the mace comes behind you try to keep the swing flush and in a straight line behind your body. If you sway in you will hit yourself and if you sway out you will throw your braced position out of balance and cause excess strain on the shoulders.
– Feel and use the momentum of the mace just like you did with the tick tocks.
– Once the ball or weight of the mace reach 90 degrees or higher you then actively snap the mace forward over your right shoulder, using your lats to pull the mace back into the rack position.
– Take a second in the rack position, then take it for another rep. Perform 10 reps, then switch grip and swing direction for 10 reps. Do 3-6 sets of 20 total reps.

From here you want to use the mace 3 times week with the above protocols as a starting point. Once you’ve mastered the 360 you can branch out into 10 and 2s, tornadoes and more.

 

MY PERSONAL MACE PROGRAM:

Monday: (Pre Squats)
Thoracic stretch with the roller (static stretch, 2×1 min)
YWTLs with resistance band 3×10 per movement. 
Tick Tocks w/ 5KG Mace 3X1 min
10 and 2s w/ 5KG Mace 3X1 min
360s w/ 5KG Mace 2X10 swings each side 

Wednesday: (Pre Bench)
Thoracic stretch with the roller (static stretch, 2×1 min)
YWTLs with resistance band 3×10 per movement.

Tick Tocks w/ 7.5KG Mace 3X1 min
10 and 2s w/ 7.5KG Mace 3X1 min
360s w/ 7.5KG Mace 2X10 swings each side

Friday: (Pre Bench)
Thoracic stretch with the roller (static stretch, 2×1 min)
YWTLs with resistance band 3×10 per movement. 
Tick Tocks w/ 10KG Mace 3X1 min
10 and 2s w/ 10KG Mace 3X1 min
360s w/ 10KG Mace 2X10 swings each side 

 

Thanks for stopping by, I hope the information will help you become a stronger more efficient lifter like it has for myself and my clients. Please don’t hesitate to message me on Instagram @fight4growth or at brogan@letmecoachyou.net if you have any questions. For those of you who are interested in online coaching, click over and check out www.letmecoachyou.net

My VERY first eBook ‘The 3 Technical Pillars of Strength’ is out and available on buy.powerliftingmotivation.com

Brogan

Powerlifter/Coach/Writer

LETMECOACHYOU.NET

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By  -      
A New Zealand Powerlifter, owner of STRENGTH-PRESCRIPTION and writer at MYSTRENGTHBLOG + POWERLIFTINGMOTIVATION.COM. MORE CONTENT --> Instagram: @BroganSamuelWilliams



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