There are many things I like about my new gym. There are also a few things I really miss from my old gym, namely its brand of medicine balls or wall balls. I can just suck it up, stop being a princess and use the medicine balls at the gym or I can buy the brand I really like and augment my gym workout at home. Decisions!! Truth told, I’d rather complete my whole workout circuit in one place, and I can’t do that at home. However, I’m really struggling with sucking it up and embracing the “different” balls. My whining to a friend raised the question, “Why are you so hung up on medicine balls?”
The short, personal answer is because they have been the key to my disappearing muffin top. I’ve fallen in love with the variety of exercises I can do with them. They are very versatile which translates to fun for me. Exercise equipment can transform your workouts and most importantly your body. Some gear comes and goes as fads and some pieces are forever and never go out of style. Medicine balls are very old school, dating back to the ancient Greeks, when sand-filled animal skin pouches were first used. Talk about staying power, 400bc to today. Modern day medicine balls have evolved to leather or rubber coverings, some brands absorb load, others bounce really high, and they vary in weight and size depending on the brand.
I would never throw a dumbbell but throwing a ball makes sense and allows greater versatility and range of motion. It allows you to practice explosive power. Therefore, while you can treat medicine balls like weights, don’t just treat medicine balls like dumbbells or kettlebells. Exploit the benefit of working on movements you perform in the real-world. Scooping up a screaming toddler requires flexibility, balance, strength, coordination, endurance, power, speed, agility, and accuracy. Basic log toss throws, hammer rotations, and bi-lateral chest passes engage your core, work on your legs and upper body strength and are all manners of movement I use when scooping up my boys (long past the toddler stage but occasionally needing scooping up none-the-less). One can also see how working with a medicine ball can perfectly mimic swinging a golf club and/or lifting a large box off the floor (squatting and lifting with arms wide). The larger medicine brand balls are designed to be shoulder width, allowing for a neutral shoulder position to protect the shoulder from injury and engage the core more fully. It’s these wider balls which absorb shock that I favor.
Some of my favorite medicine ball exercises are:
- Planks on the ball, balancing with hands on the ball and the reverse balancing with feet on the ball and adding toe touches to the floor
- High knees to the ball while jogging in place, engages my core and gets my heart rate up
- Sit-up ball throws to the wall (also works on my hand-eye coordination)
- Reverse crunches holding the medicine ball between your ankles and hovering for 10 sec holds above the ground
- Wall squats holding the balls out in front of you
- Lunges with triceps throws
These are just a few exercises you can do. If you have a partner and a ball, you can create hub-circuits with throws back and forth, which in addition to engaging your muscles adds a cardio work-out.
Are you hung up on medicine balls too? What’s your favorite medicine ball exercise?
Beginning a medicine ball workout? These are some great instructions on how and where to start: http://www.medicineballs.com/train/exercises-drills/