Functional training is one of the best ways to lose weight and gain muscle mass. There are various training equipment(s) that can help you lose weight and attain muscle mass fast. If you want to train with the additional weight, you have many options: heavy club, kettlebell, and mace.
The tools used in functional training are non-conventional. They are objects that move freely in space. They are what the body needs to improve its ability to handle movements and overloads. These tools are not classic gym machines but rudimentary objects with different characteristics to be exploited depending on the stimulus you want to give to the body.
They do not have guides or tools that control their motion. The unconventional term indicates that they are not the typical tools found in a modern gym. In practice, they are the tools in the gyms of the past when fitness and bodybuilding did not yet exist.
To ensure a real improvement in physical abilities, it is essential to use simple tools to perform complex gestures. The complex the tool, the less chance the body has of developing articulated movements. For this reason, it is essential to use tools that are subjected only to the force of gravity and the forces exerted on it by the athlete.
The ability to use these tools represents the body’s ability to develop movements in the environment. The possibility of improving gestures is given by a real improvement in the athlete’s athletic skills.
Using these objects forces the body to manage movement during exercises independently. This allows you to develop all those physical skills necessary to improve globally and functional training as a goal. Are you unsure which equipment is right for you? We will compare the different equipment and help you decide on the right option.
The heavy club, also known as steel club or clubbell, is an ideal training tool that resembles a baseball bat. Heavy club swinging is one of the oldest known methods of athletic and combat conditioning. It dated back to ancient Persia and was even an Olympic sport until 1932. It is an archaic training but also quite widespread in that it is spread across different cultures. But what can it contribute, especially to combat athletes?
Particularities and Benefits of Training with a Heavy Club
The weight of the hammer is shifted to one extreme, which makes the body have to strain to overcome the produced lever force. Due to the leverage effect, it is unnecessary to use excessively high weights to challenge the body, which can reduce possible soft tissue damage and compression damage to the joints.
Additionally, swinging the heavy club around the body through all motion stages rather than simply lifting it causes traction on the fascia and joints due to centrifugal force. This centrifugal force stimulates the myofascial matrix to generate stronger fiber layers while being oiled with synovial fluid due to movement, which also benefits the joints. This increases the potential for building elastic energy in tendons and even increases bone density, which helps prevent injury.
Another advantage over using symmetrical weights is that the same clubbell weight can be used for different levels of force without having to make constant changes in weight. To make it easier to handle a heavy club, you can grab it from a position further from its end, while if you want to complicate things, you can grab it more towards the end or move it faster. Swinging a club twice as fast takes four times as much work.
What is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell is, as the name suggests, a spherical dumbbell. Attached to it is a handle that you can use to grab and lift the weight. Kettlebells are usually made of cast iron. You get models between two and 60 kilograms, with 16 to 40 kilograms being the most common.
Kettlebells are used in workouts in several ways. They can be used for strength training, cardio, and flexibility. The kettlebell swing is one of the most popular exercises using this equipment. It is also ideal for workouts that help develop your glutes, shoulders, and core.
Pros and Cons
Training with the kettlebell has many advantages:
- The kettlebell is small and compact: With up to 40 kilograms the size of a handball, you can train anywhere and anytime – on the small balcony, in the park, or in the gym.
- The training with the kettlebell is dynamic and invigorating: The most vigorous exercises promote your endurance and stimulate muscle growth.
- The focus of the kettlebell is outside of the hand. The weight behaves slightly differently with every movement so that the muscles are challenged to the maximum.
- The dynamic movements in kettlebell training generate centrifugal forces that also affect the body. This can particularly improve intermuscular coordination, i.e., the cooperation between the muscle fibers.
- Kettlebell training is a whole-body workout whereby the stabilizing core and the lower back are strengthened in particular.
- The training with the kettlebell is effective: exercises not only address one muscle group in isolation but always several. In short units, the muscles in the entire body can be exercised, and calorie consumption can also be increased.
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of before trying kettlebell training:
- Kettlebell training is demanding. The technique has to be right so that beginners should only be instructed by a coach and not train on their own.
- If you want to work with different weights, you inevitably need a whole battery of kettlebells.
- If you are looking for maximum muscle building, you will quickly reach your limits with kettlebell training alone, as the focus here is on strength endurance.
- Training with the kettlebell requires grip strength. It is often a limiting factor in a kettlebell workout and should be strengthened in advance or parallel.
What is a Mace?
A steel mace, sometimes known as a mace bell, is developed from an ancient weapon. It’s welded on a straight and long handle (sometimes known as a lever). The handle of a decent mace has a coarse grip for added stability. The weight of the steel mace is unevenly distributed, with the majority of the weight concentrated in the mace’s ball (or head).
The steel mace is excellent for upper body strength and may be used in various ways for complete body conditioning. Due to its unbalanced weight distribution, which creates a difficult, offset weight load, it’s best used for kinesthetic training (stability, coordination, balance, and body awareness) and multiplanar motions (particularly core rotational motions).
Why Use the Mace?
The steel mace has a greater impact on the entire body’s stabilization capacity while maneuvering it than any other freeload, including kettlebells and heavy clubs. Some of the benefits of using the steel mace include:
- Core training
- Powerful hips
- Stable knees
- Functional strength
Heavy Club Vs Kettlebell
Both kettlebells and heavy clubs are used to work the core, strength, and coordination from a functional point of view, but perhaps you may be confused about which one is the right option. We will let you know.
Heavy Club vs Kettlebell: The Similarities
- Both are intended for global and functional training, where each exercise involves more than one muscle.
- The involvement of the core is essential, and in both cases, they represent a great job to strengthen the entire abdominal girdle and avoid possible back pain derived from poor postural hygiene or a sedentary lifestyle.
- The technique is essential since the benefits are tremendous, but with a bad strategy, they can disappear automatically and give way to aches and pains.
- Caloric expenditure and subsequent metabolic activation are higher compared to other activities.
- They produce an improvement in strength and endurance, favoring an ideal synergy to strengthen your muscles and your cardiorespiratory capacity.
- Improve muscular coordination and physical condition. Using movements that involve acceleration and deceleration can improve your athletic performance.
- The swing is an “emblem exercise.” In both cases, the classic swing characterized by holding the load with one or two hands and raising it until it is parallel to the ground thanks to a hip “hit” represents the typical exercise par excellence with these tools. Their use is not limited to a swing. They are much more versatile and loaded with dynamic exercises.
- Movement in all planes of space: due to their typology, both tools include movements in all planes of space, involving the body’s central core. Thanks to this, you will transmit more amount of force to the extremities, which supposes an overall improvement of your physical capacities.
- The possibility of executing pendular movements generates a series of very positive forces and stimuli on the arm joints.
Differences between a Heavy Club and Kettlebell
Kettlebells are easier and more intuitive to handle. Heavy clubs have a very characteristic shape, also familiar but less “domestic.” They are more reminiscent of a bolus or a baseball bat than a training instrument.
Heavy clubs were designed to improve combat skills and were thought to increase the strength of the extremities and the muscles of the abdominal belt since it requires strength in the rotations and torsion of the trunk.
Being more compact, kettlebells generate less inertia than heavy clubs because they do not produce the same amount of centrifugal force. This force stimulates muscle fibers to strengthen themselves while improving the ability to accumulate elastic energy in the tendon tissue of the muscle.
- Weight distribution:
Heavy clubs do not have symmetrical weight, and this is an advantage. If you want to see the load reduced, you do not have to change the weight by moving the grip and directing it towards the base. You will see the sensation of weight reduced.
- Eccentric work:
Heavy clubs favor eccentric muscular work. This is due to its shape and weight distribution, forcing you to constantly maintain a force to prevent the movement from getting out of control. This type of effort generates greater and faster muscular adaptations, so the results will arrive in a shorter period.
In addition, training with a heavy club improves the elasticity of your soft tissues without risking injury to them since, when working, most people opt for the lubrication of the joint capsules and eliminating adhesions. Kettlebells also favor this type of work but, being more compact, the lever generated is shorter, and its effect is less compared to the clubbell.
Which is the Best Option?
Heavy clubs are an ideal option if you want versatility and more health benefits. It may also depend on your level and what you want to achieve. If you already train regularly with kettlebells and want to improve your athletic performance, it may be a good idea to introduce some exercises with heavy clubs gradually. On the contrary, if you are starting in functional training, the kettlebell is safer and easier to handle.
Heavy Club Vs Mace
They are pretty similar tools, especially in shape and appearance. Both of them are loaded asymmetrically to one side, away from the main handle. Their noticeable difference is in their handle length. The weight of the mace is all on its head, with less weight in its long handle.
The heavy club also has most of its weight at the head, but this is distributed toward the end of its short handle. That is why if you opt for a heavier club, it will be longer than the lighter options available. However, if you choose a heavier mace, the handle length remains the same, but the mace head will be larger.
Heavy Club Vs Mace: Which is the Best Option?
A heavy club is a perfect option for shoulder, elbow, and wrist mobility. They can also be used for strength training purposes depending on the weight of your club. On the other hand, a steel mace is ideal for circular strength, thanks to its long handle. The weight distribution of the steel mace makes it the perfect option for circular strength.
Conventional training methods put the body under increasing load in a range of motion in two planes (up, down, front, and back), often using compression to elicit a muscular response. Although this undoubtedly increases the muscle strength, the risk of diminishing the quality of movement, damaging the joints, limiting the body’s ability to move by reducing ourselves to very simple movement patterns is a factor to take into account.
In combat sports, moving accurately and efficiently is a much more valuable asset than moving a higher weight. A heavy bench press does not translate into a stronger punching ability. Many of the movements, and many of the skills acquired from swinging clubs, are directly transferable to the dynamic movements found in combat sports, such as rapid hip extension, hip rotation, redirecting force, groundwork, and absorption of impacts.
The grip strength developed by swinging the heavy club is tremendous, and it is the type of grip that applies directly to combat sports. Holding the hammer while going from side to side requires constant muscle tension and relaxation without having the advantage of being supported by the body structure as when holding the bar during a deadlift.
It’s more like trying to hold a rope that slides out of your hand or holding someone else’s arm (which applies to combat). A heavy club is the perfect option in the list of unconventional training tools.
Get the Heavy Club Training Approved Steel Club here.
- The Ultimate Heavy Club Guide
- Steel Club Exercises & Movements
- Heavy Club Workout Routines
- Ultimate Heavy Club Training Program (Developed by 1st Place Bodybuilding Gold Winner & Olympian)