Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Mace Pendulum Swing for Core Conditioning

The Mace Pendulum Swing is a great exercise to develop a few important qualities for athletes; core strength and relaxation.  It is based on the principles of leading low back researcher and strength performance specialist, Dr. Stu McGill.  

Dr. McGill has shown that the ability to contract and relax the core is vital for the ability of athletes to learn to generate power.  The ability to relax and then brace is what separates great athletes from average athletes.  Essentially you are relaxed to move fast and then stiffen to apply a punch or a kick with power.  

This type of exercise is based on Reactive Neuromuscular Training.  RNT simply means exercises are used that require little visual or verbal instruction and instead cause a reaction to an outside force. In this case, the force is the swinging mace.   Your body will naturally fight to stay upright, thus engaging the abdominal corset, your hips and grip.  It fights the momentum of the mace and then relaxes when the mace is no longer a threat as it crosses in front of your body. 

It is also a self limiting exercise.  Self limiting means that you will be done with the exercise before the form degrades and you potentially use incorrect form.  Jump roping is a self limiting exercise, as you fatigue your form fails and you stop.  Jogging and squatting are not self limiting.   You can jog your way to an injury.   You can squat your way with bad form for a few extra reps.  The Mace Pendulum swing is self limiting due to your grip.  Your grip will get tired before the swing tires out the body. 

Stand tall,  feet under the shoulders, slight knee bend and looking straight ahead.  The mace is held with the ball towards the floor and elbow is at 90 degrees.  As the mace swings towards your midline, the body will instinctively relax.  As it moves away from the body, outside the center of gravity, your body will instinctively stiffen to keep it from being pulled towards the side of the swinging mace.  As the mace slows down as it reaches its apex across your body, create an impulse into the mace to swing the mace faster across the body. 

The heavier the mace, the larger momentum arm will be.  Think smaller time frame for sets.  The smaller the mace, the longer the grip will last and the more time under tension can be developed, think longer sets.  

For a 20lb mace start with sets of 30 seconds.  Work up to one minute for each arm.  Depending on your goals, you can go back and forth between arms and build some great core endurance or put this into a full body circuit incorporating a few other Mace exercises.  Either way, get ready to have your core and grip endurance challenged. 

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