Medicine ball workouts may be new to your exercise routine, but they are one of the oldest forms of strength and conditioning training. In ancient Greece, the physician Hippocrates had his patients throw them back and forth for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Of course, his were sewn animal skin stuffed with sand; not quite as nice as the basketball lookalikes we use now! Today’s version has been mainstreamed into real life fitness to be used for muscular strength, endurance, and stability training. You will find them in health clubs and at stores like Target for your home gym.
Medicine balls offer a great alternative to dumbbells. They prepare your body for realistic motions. You’re not fixed to a single plane of movement and you can add throwing, swinging, and rotational movements whenever possible. This is a great way to strengthen the supporting muscles and tendons around your key joints—preventing typical injuries to the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle areas.
Medicine balls also can help increase your power for all types of sports movements. Instead of doing slow and restricted movements, your body is trained to perform explosive movements. They can be tossed or bounced. (They even float in the pool!) Med balls help to strengthen your core body for balance and agility sports.
Medicine balls can be found in weights, ranging from 2 lbs – 30 lbs. They can bounce and float, making them great for water exercise also. They are typically made of non-slip rubber. How heavy the ball you use depends on your age, sex, size, and purpose. An 8 – 15 lb ball will give a good abdominal core workout. A 4 – 10 lb ball is good for tossing exercises. Use a heavier ball around 15 – 30 lbs for leg exercises that build hamstrings and quads. For someone wanting to purchase their first “all around “ball, a 2,4, or 6 lb ball would be a good choice. For a fitness enthusiast, an 8-10 lb ball would be a good first choice.
Here is an exercise you can try or watch the video for several medicine ball exercises!
Forward Lunge with Medicine Ball Arc
Hold the ball over your head as you begin alternating forward lunges. After you feel balanced, begin to lower the medicine ball over on the right side of your body (to about shoulder height) while the right leg lunges forward. As you push back and switch legs, arc the ball over your head so that when you lunge forward with the left foot the ball lowers to the left side of your body. Keep alternating.