Medicine Ball Exercises
Medicine ball training has been around since the ancient Greeks discovered health benefits from exercising with weighted balls. It is one of the oldest forms of strength and conditioning used to improve health, explosive power, and speed. Medicine balls are versatile, portable and a fad that lasted the test of time. Several styles and sizes exist – some are made of rubber or leather, some absorb load, and others bounce really high. But how can a weighted sphere be so simple, yet have the potential to be so functional?
ENTER EXPLOSIVE POWER TRAINING
Power, in relation to exercise and athletics, is the product of strength and speed or force and velocity. Therefore, the more powerful you are, the more force you can develop quickly. Research has shown us that the ability to generate maximal power typically results in enhanced athletic performance1. The medicine ball serves as an excellent tool that can be used to enhance your power output. The freedom of movement allows for endless variations of exercises that can be tailored to your needs and more importantly, it teaches the body to work as an integrated system, which is key for improving athleticism and sport performance.
The ability to produce maximal power depends on many characteristics that go far beyond the scope of this article; however, your goals when training power should focus on movement coordination and efficiency with the ballistic intent to move the medicine ball as fast as humanly possible despite its weight. Force depends on your ability to recruit what are called high threshold motor units, which are muscle fibers that have the ability to contract very fast and explosively2. This ability is also known as neuromuscular efficiency and is enhanced with explosive medicine ball training.
THE MEDICINE BALL WORKOUT
This full body workout incorporates med ball training with traditional full body exercises. Focus on the quality and speed of execution rather than quantity. If your repetitions start to slow down, terminate the set. Warm up with this simple med ball routine: Perform 2 sets
- Med ball wall chest throws x 10
- Med ball wall overhead throws x 10
- Med ball lateral wall throws x 10/side
- Overhead med ball squats x 10
- Med ball hug single leg Romanian deadlifts x 10/side
- Med ball hug lateral lunges or Cossack squats x 10/side
Sets x Reps
|A1. Med ball Squat Jump Throw from bench||5 x 5||60-sec|
|A2. 30-yard sprint||5 x 1||2-min|
|B1. Pull Up (weighted if possible)||3 x 5||60-sec|
|B2. Overhead Med ball slam||3 x 8-10||2-min|
|C1. Pushup (weighted if possible)||3 x 5-8||60-sec|
|C2. Explosive Supine Medicine Ball Chest Pass||3 x 8-10||2-min|
|D1. Rotational Med ball throws||3 x 8-10/side||30-sec|
|D2. V-sit Med ball Chest Throws||3 x 10-12||60-sec|
THE MEDICINE BALL EXERCISES
SQUAT JUMP THROW – FROM BENCH
Focus: To develop full body explosive power
How to: Stand on an exercise bench holding a medicine ball. Step off the bench, land on the floor and quickly jump up as fast and high as you can throwing the medicine ball in the air at the peak of your jump. Do not bother catching the ball, just let it fall. Grab the ball and complete all reps.
EXPLOSIVE MEDICINE BALL SLAM
Focus: To develop explosive upper body power
How to: Start with the ball held overhead. Explosively slam the ball just in front of your feet using your whole body. If you’re using a bouncy medicine ball, be careful of the rebound. Grab the ball again and complete all reps in succession.
EXPLOSIVE SUPINE MEDICINE BALL CHEST PASS
Focus: To develop explosive upper body power
How to: Lie face down on the floor with your head beside an exercise bench. Get a partner stand on the bench holding a medicine ball. Your partner will drop the medicine over your chest – you’ll catch the ball and quickly explode pass the ball straight up to your partner. Your partner will ensure the ball falls straight onto your chest again for the next repetition. Complete all reps.
ROTATIONAL MEDICINE BALL THROWS
Focus: To develop explosive rotary power
How to: Grab a semi-bouncy medicine ball and stand 4-5’ from a cinderblock wall. Explosively rotate through your hips and shoulders as you throw the ball toward the wall. As it bounces off and rebounds back toward you, catch the ball and load up for the next repetition performing rep after rep in succession. Do all reps, switch sides and repeat.
V-SIT MED BALL CHEST THROWS
Focus: To develop upper body explosive power
How to: Sit near a concrete wall with your hips and knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Brace your abs, puff out your chest and bring your shoulders back. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the floor. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your hips and do not slouch. Hold a med ball in front of your chest. Explosively throw the ball toward the concrete wall. As the ball bounces back, decelerate it and immediately throw it back against the wall. Do all reps.