Medicine balls are a great way to exercise any area of your body, whether upper, lower, or core. There are different sized exercise balls from 2-12, that you can use for numerous different exercises.
Medicine ball training is suitable for all ages, fitness levels and sizes. There are many advantages to training with medicine balls. They allow for improved range of motion, core strength, coordination, flexibility, joint integrity, and upper and lower body strength. The great thing is that you can involve a partner or simply use a solid, sturdy wall.
Improving core strength should be a goal for everyone. Movement and stability begin with the core – abdominals, lower back, hips and spine. The core is the body’s center of power. Using a medicine ball to train the core is perfect because you can perform so many functional movements similar to those that you do in everyday life.
Instead of isolating certain muscle groups, you are able to train many different core muscles at once with the medicine ball. As an example exercise, stand approximately 6 feet from a wall and face it, knees slightly bent, with your abdominals contracted and your hips out so your back is completely upright. Then toss a medicine ball against the wall like you’re making a chest pass in basketball.
Rotate your torso while tossing the ball against the wall, catching it and doing it from the opposite side, trying to hit the same spot each time. You’ll notice your dominant side is easier than your non-dominant, so it's important to train your non-dominant side. You will balance out your body’s strength.
Do this exercise as fast as you can, making sure to keep your movements smooth while maintaining correct form and good posture. This will allow you to train all the muscles in your core you need for everyday activities such as lifting a heavy bag of groceries. The core, not the upper body, begins that movement and helps to keep you stable.
At the same time you are improving your core strength and stability, you are also developing upper and lower body strength. Another functional movement associated with everyday living is lifting and placing something on a top shelf. That movement definitely takes strong stabilizer muscles to keep you balanced, but it also takes upper body strength, in the shoulders especially.
A great medicine ball exercise to mimic this motion is to stand 6-8 feet from a wall, with one foot approximately a foot in front of the other. While holding the medicine ball above your head, throw the ball against the wall and switch your lead foot, almost like a little skip. As you catch and throw, switch feet again, finding a good rhythm.
The whole time, try to hit the same spot on the wall and try to keep your arms above your head. As you catch the medicine ball above your head, you can try to increase your range of motion in the shoulder area by bringing the ball back a little bit behind the head before releasing. Be careful that you don’t go back too far, and make sure you warm up and stretch before performing any medicine ball exercises!
Another great way to use medicine ball training is for rehab, but make sure you check with your doctor or therapist before doing so. If you have an injured shoulder, you can take a small, 2-pound medicine ball, face the wall approximately 6 inches away, toss the ball against the wall and back to your hand, keeping your arm raised above your head. This will improve joint integrity and strengthen the muscles in your shoulder, with light resistance. It’s very important that you have discussed any injury you might have with your doctor first to ensure that you aren’t making things worse.
These are just a few examples of how to improve your everyday life through medicine ball training. There are numerous exercises, both for beginners and the advanced. Athletes often use medicine ball training to enhance functional power in their sports. It is a great way to train explosive movements and improve coordination. You can also set up a circuit of 6-8 exercises, where you are going from one exercise to the next with minimal rest, to improve conditioning and maintain and elevated heart rate.
All you need is a sturdy wall and a medicine ball. Have fun!