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An Ancient Training Tool for a Very Modern Problem

If you’ve been following my information for any length of time you’ll be familiar with a tool known as an Indian club.

You may also have seen me swinging sledgehammers around in circles.

Videos like this one:

A video posted by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Oct 23, 2015 at 7:04am PDT

Well all that’s just been taken to a whole new level as I spent the day  down at Adrian O’Brien’s gym in Limerick where he hosted Mr Maceman, the inimitable Rik Brown.

Rik’s the guy in green.

The thing with these swinging implements is that they, if used well, are magic for the shoulders.

The light clubs are best used in your warm ups or as a low intensity station in a circuit. But the heavier tools, wow, they work the upper body in ways that no other form of resistance training comes close to.

I don’t teach the heavier stuff as I’ve kind of been working it our for myself over the last few years, but a day spent with a master of the mace has given me an understanding of the tool and it’s effects on the body that I was missing.

But that’s the difference between being self taught, even with the aid of YouTube and being actually coached.

So why clubs and maces?

What’s so different about these?

Most lifts, think Squats, Presses, Deadlifts etc, are compressive by nature. There’s a lot of weight trying to crush you into the Earth.

They’re also usually performed in a single plane of motion, or more accurately are very dominant in a single plane, ie the saggital plane.

The swinging action of these implements then differs in that the load on the body comes from the centrifugal force of the weight pulling against you. Not only that but the weight is mainly swung in the frontal plane.

Here’s Rik:

The shoulder girdle loves this.

It’s very difficult to concentrically load the shoulder girdle safely though it’s entire range without developing some serious gymnastic type strength and control (which isn’t a bad thing by the way…)

I believe that so many shoulder injuries that happen in the athletic world are a result of overuse of particular movements and a lack of all round armour building from the gym training.

As a joint the shoulder is the most mobile in the body, it’s stability and strength comes via the scapula. The motion of the scapula is very much dictated by the movement of the rib cage and thoracic spine.

And where are most people locked up?

Thoracic Spine.

Tight t-spine = reduced scapula mobility = greater mobility required at the shoulder = greater potential for injury.


But with the clubs and maces it’s possible to open up the shoulder, progressively load the entire thorax (upper body) with a constantly moving load that is not compressive in nature.

Oh, and that tight T-Spine that’s binding up your shoulders? It’s more than likley reducing the function of your diaphragm, and that means breathing may well be compromised.

Good breathing with these swinging actions can open up the breath like little else I’ve experienced.

How cool does that sound?

At this weekends Upper Body Mobility & Strength Workshop I’ll be doing a section on the indian clubs, I’ll also demonstrate the mace. I’ll not teach you mace, I don’t have the experience at this juncture to presume that authority, but I’ll give you a demonstration.

Sunday is going to be a full day, be sure to bring your notebooks.

If you’re not booked in there are a few spots remaining, I highly recommend you get yourselves booked in quick before the last minute folks book up the last few spots.


Dave Hedges

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