How to Use a Steel Club During Your Next Workout

Go Clubbing, Get Fit

"Primal fitness" has gained popularity in gyms across the country. Those who participate in primal workouts say that they train like our ancestors did, with movments that involve caveman-inspired activites such as lifting, carrying, crawling, pushing, pulling, throwing, running, jumping, and climbing.

To accommodate this fitness trend, more companies are developing strength equipment that feels more like old-school weapons than weights. Onnit, Weckmethod, and others have created tools such as steel maces, steel clubs, kettlebells, sandbags, steel bells, battle ropes, and more.

steel club workout
Onit Academy

Using a Steel Club for Exercise

If you're familiar with kettlebells or steel maces, you can use their general properties as a reference point for the steel club. The difference is that, while kettlebells are short and compact, and maces are long and narrow, clubs fall somewhere in between.

Clubs are a piece of fitness equipment with an unbalanced distribution of weight—less weight at the narrower end, with progressively more weight along the club's shaft as it widens toward the end.

This makes the club an excellent tool for practically any type of training—strength, balance, rotational power, and even rehab. The uneven distribution of weight requires greater muscle engagement during training, and the size and shape make the clubs appropriate for swinging, pulling, and pressing exercises. 

Health Benefits

While there is plenty of evidence promoting the health benefits of strength training, there is very limited peer-reviewed science specifically looking at the benefits of training with a steel club. There is one short published report, however, about training with Indian clubs. The workout involved swinging clubs shaped just like the steel clubs used today.

Authors of the article, published in the American Journal of Public Health, wrote that Indian club training was a popular form of physical exercise after the Civil War. It was promoted for its ability to promote physical fitness for mental and moral improvement. Those who practiced Indian club training believed that proper physical exercise built bodily strength, character, and righteousness.

Those attributes are not necessarily promoted in gyms that use steel clubs today, but the report's authors also point to the fact that swinging clubs "exercised all the muscles in a balanced fashion and combined all ranges of motion"—a health benefit that can be gained by those who train with the clubs in modern gyms.

Experts at Onnit also point to the fact that steel club training helps build grip strength, improves rotational and core strength, and allows you to train with less weight.

Perhaps most importantly, steel club training can be fun. For those who have become bored with traditional weight training, this new type of training can be a welcome alternative.

What's a Steel Club Workout Like?

John Wolf is the Director of Fitness Education at Onnit. Before he begins a workout with a new client, he takes time to have them warm up and teaches proper club technique. Using any new piece of equipment incorrectly can lead to unnecessary injury, so it's important to analyze movement patterns and point out any habits that could be problematic.

As you move into the workout, you're likely to start with a basic movement, such as the 2-hand front swing, and progressively add to or change the movement as it is mastered. For example, the front swing might become the 2-hand clean. And from there, you might add a 2-hand shouldered squat. To these movements, you might add bodyweight exercises.

John's 10-minute steel club AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) is a challenging workout, even for fitness pros. It involves as many successive rounds as possible of just three exercises over the course of 10 minutes:

  • 10 Flag press lunges
  • 8 Frog pushups
  • 10 Front-swings to squats

Buying and Using a Steel Club

You can purchase your own club for use at home for prices ranging from $40 to $120, depending on the weight of the club you purchase. If you do buy your own, keep in mind that it is always smart to work with a fitness professional or someone experienced with steel club training to master your form before diving into a full routine.

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2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fee E, Brown TM. The Indian club exerciseAm J Public Health. 2003;93(5):723. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.5.723

  2. Hyson, Shawn. The steel club: Benefits and uses. Onnit Academy. September 15, 2020