Steel Mace Vs. Sledgehammer: The 4 Big Differences in Training

June 20, 2024 by VAHVA Fitness

Explaining the 4 big differences between the steel mace, Indian club and the sledgehammer. Particularly, can a sledgehammer substitute a steel mace?

With the release of Iron King Method and many of our videos featuring steel mace or Indian club training, a lot of people have inquired whether they can use a sledgehammer instead.


If you are new to this type of training equipment, we recommend looking into them. They truly transformed our performance, strength and even appearance like no other tool has before.


To learn more, we recommend watching:

 

In this article and video, we will go through the differences and strength & weaknesses of these ancient training tools.

Can You Substitute a Steel Mace with a Sledgehammer?

dragon squat steel mace

A sledgehammer surely has many pros. A sledgehammer is a tool a lot of well equipped gyms already have and it's easy to find in almost any hardware store.


For the last several decades, the sledgehammer has been used by athletes, martial artists and fitness enthusiasts for hitting the tires. This is a very athletic and functional movement that mimics the movement pattern of chopping wood.


It's surely great for your upper body and core, but when it comes to steel maces or Indian clubs, we use them a lot more versatilely and creatively. 


With maces and clubs, you are particularly doing a lot of flowing circular movements where the tool swings over and behind your head. We have also invented dozens of functional movements that are extremely effective for developing athletic strength and muscle size.


The big question remains: can you substitute these flowing and circular movements with the sledgehammer?


The answer is YES but it won't be the same. Here's why.

The 4 Big Differences Between The Sledgehammer & Steel Mace / Club

Here are the biggest differences between these 3 pieces of equipment.


1. Length of the Lever


The steel mace has the longest length and thus utilizes the lever the most effectively. It's significantly longer than the sledgehammer. Clubs on the other hand tend to be shorter than the sledgehammer.


The length of the lever is what will not only make the difficulty adjustable but it will also significantly increase the resistance of the mace.


2. Thickness of the Grip


Maybe the most important difference is the grip thickness. The thickness of the sledgehammer handle tends to be thin whereas the steel mace & Indian clubs have handles that are a lot thicker than standard dumbbells for example.


Training your grip and forearms is one of the most important benefits you will get from utilizing the clubs & maces. This is where the sledgehammer falls short the most and will not produce equal benefits to the steel mace. 


The sledgehammer will still develop the wrists & forearms due to the stabilisation factor but it just lacks the challenging grip element.


3. Weight Distribution


The weight distribution of the sledgehammer and steel mace are similar but the clubs are very different. Indian clubs have the weight more evenly distributed over the length of the lever which makes it slightly easier to swing and flow with and also makes double club training possible.


4. Shape of the Weight


The steel maces & clubs tend to be round and symmetrical. The heavy end of the sledgehammer is rectanglular whereas the mace has a solid round ball.


Swinging and flowing with the sledgehammer is surely possible (you can see it in the video) but especially for beginners it can be rather awkward and scary at first. The sledgehammer also has sharp edges which makes it even more risky to use.


Price & Availability


Most people commonly want to use the sledgehammer because they think it's cheaper. In reality, there is not that much price difference between the two. 


The prices for sledgehammers tend to range from $20 to $120. The maces aren't more expensive than this, although the delivery charges can get high if you need to order them far away.


Nowadays, steel maces or steel clubs are readily available in most continents and are rather affordable (usually from $20 to $100 depending on the weight). 


The great benefit of steel maces & clubs is that you can find them at any weight from 1 kg (2 lbs) to 20 kg (40 pounds), whereas sledgehammers tend to be between 4-6 kg (8-12 lbs) which is a huge limitation.


For these reasons, we strongly recommend getting a steel mace or/and Indian clubs. They are just fun to use and offer amazing benefits that are hard to mimic with other tools. 


They are also a lot more inviting to use than a sledgehammer which means you will be using them a lot more and most importantly you will enjoy using them a lot more. They can also act as a room decor and are a great conversation starter for guests.

Why You Should Train Like This: Greatly Enhanced Sports, Wrestling & Martial Arts Ability

Utilizing clubs and maces will have enormous transference to many sports and physical activities.


We are surprised they are not more utilized in the West although in Iran & India they are quite popular.


In many ways, the club and maces are way more sports specific strength training than doing the conventional lifts in the gym.


Especially when it comes to handling external objects or humans, the added grip, forearm and arm strength will be immensely helpful.


Mace and club training will particularly help with:

  • Sports with rackets, sticks, balls – Enhanced feel and control over the object thanks to the better developed forearm/hand musculature and coordination. 
  • Wrestling & grappling – Significantly better grip and wrist strength to control your opponent and to hold different body locks and positions. 
  • Martial arts – Your punches will be more dangerous and hands less prone to injuries. Your fists will feel firmer and wrists a lot more steady. 
  • Gym & general functionality – handling weights or hanging on a bar will feel easier than ever, maybe even effortless.

In addition to the maces and clubs, we recommend utilizing thick bars and particularly the round sandbag. The round sandbag is one of most functional training tools available on par with the clubs and maces.


You want your hands to be as strong as possible because your functionality is limited and unleashed by your grip. This is why the first principle of Iron King Method is "Grip First" - principle. 


Stay strong.



samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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