It might be surprising that almost every commercial gym has medicine balls in the corner or next to the matted section yet they go dramatically underused by gym patrons. Medicine ball training is a valuable method to reduce weight lifting and maintain functional muscle movements, add weight to core moves and also improve explosive power. They are also very handy if you cannot get to a gym or if you just need a day off the weights. Here’s why you should be using medicine balls.
Medicine Ball Exericses
Exercise #1 – Med Ball Slams
Very simple to start out, take the ball in both hands and raise it above your head until your arms are fully extended and raise up onto your toes, then explode downward using your entire body and slam the ball to the floor. Catch the ball and repeat this for 10-20 reps.
Exercise #2 – Med Ball Chest Pass
Lay flat on the floor and with both hands chest-press the ball into the air and catch. Alternatively, you can perform this standing with a partner and standing you should jump as you pass the ball.
Exercise #3 – Russian Twists
Sit on the floor in an upright position holding the ball, lift your legs off the floor in a v-sit position then rotate the torso to the right then all the way back to the left, that is 1 rep. Perform these to failure to end your ab session.
Exercise #4 – Straight Leg Raise Crunches
Lay flat on the floor with the medicine ball balancing on your feet/ankle area. Raise your legs up 45 degrees and then perform straight leg crunches while maintaining the balance of your legs and the ball. Perform sets of 10-15 of these slow and controlled.
Exercise #5 – Wood Chop
Standing holding the ball squat down and bring the ball down to your left side in line with your hips then raise up and as you do bring the ball from your bottom left to top right of your body with your arms fully extended. Perform 10 reps then switch sides so you go from your bottom right to your upper left.
Exercise #6 – Medicine Ball Push-ups
Get into a push up position with one hand on a medicine ball, perform one rep then roll the ball to the other hand and repeat, reps on this may vary depending on how difficult it is for you to perform.
Exercise #7 – Sit Up Pass
With a partner, get into the sit up position holding the ball, perform a sit up and then pass the ball to your partner, stay in the crunched up position until you receive the ball back then go back down and repeat. The key is not to catch the ball as you are on the way down but hold your position absorb the pass then return to laying down before sitting up again.
Exercise #8 – The Med Ball V- Up
Lay flat with the ball in both hands above your head with arms extended fully, crunch up bringing your arms and legs up in a straight line until they meet in the center above you, pass the med ball between your legs and hold it there while lowering both your arms and legs back to the floor. Then perform the same action and collect the ball with your hands. You should perform sets of 20 however this depends on ability and the weight of the med ball used.
Exercise #9 – The Burpee Catch
Stand facing a wall holding the ball. The aim is to launch the ball high in the air but so it hits the wall near the top, while this is going on you will drop to the floor and perform a burpee (drop your hands to the floor, push feet back into a push-up position, bring the feet back forwards and stand up) then you will catch the ball as it comes back down. I would definitely perform some practice throws so you know how much time you have to complete your burpee and I would use a lighter ball so you are able to launch it high in the air. Definitely a more advanced move.
Take Home Message
These are some great exercises to get you started with the use of a medicine ball. They can be a great addition to your usual program or even used on an active rest day to keep your muscles moving even in the absence of weights. Building in some explosive movements can also aid in the transfer of the strength you build in the gym to functional movements like jumping, throwing and pressing.