If you have ever visited your local gym or recreation center, you probably have seen a medicine ball or two.
While some people are quick to bypass the medicine ball for workouts and warm ups, there are numerous benefits of incorporating them into your physical activity schedule.
Not only will it change your routine up by adding more fun, but it will also change the way you challenge yourself mentally and physically.
Before we go into why medicine balls are good for warming up and workouts, let’s discuss what a medicine ball is.
Unlike a fitness ball, a medicine ball is small enough to hold and are weighted from anywhere between two to 25 pounds. They are a great way to challenge your body like the way dumbbells do.
In addition, medicine balls allow more range of motion because users can swing it in the air or toss it.
Important Reasons to Include Medicine Balls Into Your Routine:
- Build more strength – Medicine balls are great for building more muscle mass, thus leading to more body strength. An exercise to try out: Hold the medicine ball over your head and bend both of your elbows, slowly lowering the medicine ball behind your head before returning to the start position. This exercise helps strengthen your back, shoulders, and triceps.
- Challenge Your Core – You can challenge your core by adding a medicine ball into your workout routine. This will add a more challenging aspect, by increasing the resistance of the moves of the exercise. This will lead to more strength and definition of your core area. An exercise to try out: Seated Twists – Start seated with feet on ground, knees bent, holding med ball to your chest. Raise feet off ground into a low tabletop position. Twist torso to the right as you move knees to the left. Rotate back to center, then over to the left, with knees dropping slightly to the right. (Do not allow knees to touch ground.) Keep hips stable and core tight throughout. Alternate for 8 to 12 reps total.
- Improve Balance and Hand-Eye Coordination – Did you know that by regularly throwing a medicine ball will increase your hand-eye coordination, balance, and flexibility? By increasing your balance you can improve your posture. In older adults, exercises done with a medicine ball can improve stability and prevent falls. An exercise to try out: Single-leg squat – Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Lift the right foot off the ground and extend it forward. Hold a medicine ball in front of the belly button. Lower the body into a squat position, sitting back into an imaginary chair with the knees safely positioned over the feet. Return to start position, and switch legs. That’s one rep.
- Have a Full-Body Workout – You don’t have to leave your home in order to achieve a full-body workout. By using a medicine ball you can target all major muscle groups by doing the right exercises. An exercise to try out: Rock and Roll Up – Lie down, back to the mat, with knees bent. Hold a medicine ball on the ground with arms fully extended overhead. Pull the knees into the chest, preparing to use the weight of the ball (and the strength of your core!) to help catapult you to a controlled squat position, then standing. Next, slowly lower back into a squat, and ease back to the floor, butt first before lying back down. Repeat.
- Inexpensive – The cost will vary depending on how much it weighs. On Amazon, you can get a four pound ball for $21.98. For a 20 pound ball you can get it for $44.84. Not to bad!
- Versatile – By varying how you exercise with the medicine ball you can target the upper and lower body. Thus, giving you a full-body workout. Who doesn’t want that?
- Warming Up – A medicine ball can be used before your real training sessions begin. Certain exercises like the medicine ball exchange is a great way to warm up your arms, shoulders, and increase your heart rate.
How Do I Pick the Right Medicine Ball for Me?
As a basic rule, you should choose a medicine ball that isn’t to heavy. Why? Choosing a medicine ball that is to heavy will decrease your stamina and motor skills. No body wants this to happen.
There are a few other things to look into before you start exercising with a medicine ball.
- Are you living an inactive lifestyle?
- Do you have a heart or blood pressure condition?
- Are you over the age of 40?
- Do you experience joint pain, dizzy spells, or loss of balance?
If you experience any of these, you need to consult your physician before you start any form of workouts with a medicine ball.
If you’re looking to do strength training with a medicine ball, it is recommended to start off at 30% to 50% of your one rep maximum. Thus, if are looking to do strength or power training you will start off with heavier weight than if you were do to speed training.
If you’re looking to do speed training you should choose a lighter medicine ball. This is because as stated above, choosing a too heavy weight for speed training will hinder your speed and form.
For example, if you looking to improve your hand-eye coordination, do chest passes with a lighter medicine ball and work quickly.
Choosing a weight that is to heavy for either speed or strength training will hinder your overall form. This is because your stronger muscles will try to compensate for your weaker muscles.
A Medicine Ball vs. A Slam Ball
Even though a medicine ball and a slam ball are both balls you can include in your workout routine, there are some differences.
Knowing the difference is vital in knowing which ball is right for your workout routine.
A slam ball was created to throw during exercises. It is made of harder shall than a medicine ball because it needs to be sturdy so it can handle a high-velocity impact. It’s shell is usually made of hard rubber.
Whereas a medicine ball in typically made of leather, rubber, or plastic.
Some similarities between these two balls include they both come weighted between two pounds and 50 pounds.
Their outer image isn’t much different either. These balls come in softball size or slightly larger than a basketball sizes.
Both types of balls can used in partner exercises as well as individual exercises such as lunges or squats.
Stay Safe with Your New Training Program
As you start off and proceed with your new training program having a professional advise and check your form is ideal. This will decrease your chance of injury.
Stay hydrated during your training sessions especially if you’re doing more intense sessions or if you’re training in warm temperatures.
Once your training sessions are done, finish up with 10-15 minutes of static stretching.
Static stretching is often found in general fitness and is safe to do and is effective when desiring to improve flexibility. A static stretch means the stretch is held in a challenging but yet comfortable position for somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds.
Five Medicine Ball Exercises
While there are numerous medicine ball exercises you can try out, here are five that will engage different areas of your body.
- Lunge with a twist – This is a great exercises for those seeking a full body workout. For this exercise stand with your legs hip width apart. Relax your shoulders. Hold the medicine ball a few inches in front of your chest and step into a lunge. Make sure your knee does not go passed your toes. Go into another lunge but this time with the opposite leg. Do the twist in place when you are deep into the lunge (for both legs).
- Circle squat – This exercise targets your legs and glutes. To do this exercise stand holding your medicine ball at the right hip. Then circle the ball over your head towards the left side. At the same time step out the left leg into a squat (just like a sumo wrestler). Circle the ball all the way to the right side of the body, while still in the squat. Step the feet back together and circle the ball back to the right. Repeat, then switch directions.
- V-Up – The v-up exercise is great for building strength and toning your core. It’s kind of like an opposite weighted superman, which we will get to in a bit. With your body flat on a mat and your legs out and your arms extended flat over your head hold a medicine ball. Bring your feet and hands together to make your body form the letter V. At the top of the “V,” pass the ball from your hands to your feet. Squeeze the ball between your sneakers, and slowly lower the arms and legs back down to the floor. Return to the “V,” and pass the ball back to the hands. That’s one rep.
- Figure 8 – This exercise can be tiring, so be sure to start with a lighter ball in the beginning. To do the figure eight, stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold onto a medicine ball with both hands to one side of your head, with your arms fully extended. Then slowly begin to move the medicine ball in a fluid, controlled motion, forming a figure 8. Next, repeat reps clockwise, then switch directions.
- Weighted Superman – Lie down flat on a mat with your face towards the mat. Extend your legs out. Extend your arms out above your head with a medicine ball between your hands. Then try to left your legs and arms up at the same time. Go as high as you can go. Hold this position for a few seconds. Finally, return your arms and legs back to the mat and repeat. This exercise engages your back and your chest.