Medicine balls are commonplace at most gyms and workout facilities these days. They are used for anything from push-ups and overhead throws to functional swings and twists. For such a simple piece of equipment they are extremely versatile and there are a number of different types of medicine balls to choose from.
Most med balls come in various weights and diameters. And depending on the type, some are made from soft mushy leather while others are hollow with a hard rubber surface. Some even have handles to facilitate a better grip. With so much variety available, sometimes I wonder if people know what a medicine ball is really for but are unsure of how to incorporate them in their own workout routine.
Medicine Balls & Core Strength Training
Similar to the BOSU ball, a medicine ball can provide an unstable surface that challenges both balance and stability. By knowing how to perform movements properly, one can easily torture clients capitalize on the challenge provided by the unstable surface and use it to challenge the core during push-ups, abdominal movements, shoulder movements, and hamstring movements (and more). Learning how to stabilize the body when an unstable surface is present is one of the main components of core strength training.
Medicine Balls & Sports Performance Training
Medicine balls are used a lot in functional training and sports specific training such as MMA and boxing. Med balls are also used regularly in cross-fit style workouts. Having various diameters and weights available allows the exerciser to perform resistance oriented exercises that would be awkward if attempted with a dumbbell.
Working with a variety of diameters and weights also helps to improve grip and forearm strength, mimic coordinated movements, and provide resistance for explosive movements. The various weights allow you to progressively increase difficulty, strengthen target muscles, and increase overall demand on the body.
When using a medicine ball as part of a sports specific training regimen, exercises are most effective when they mirror movements you perform in your sport.
Do Medicine Balls Really Fit into A Strength Training Workout?
When I work with clients, one of the things I teach them is to create a circuit of strength training movements and medicine ball exercises. By choosing the right combination of exercises, I use this method to effectively challenge both the core and the target muscle groups while increasing overall demand on the body and creating a more intense strength training workout.
If you want to learn how to use a medicine ball correctly, check out this video below. The video is a little dry, but also informative. It’s created by one of my favorite online companies, Perform Better.