The Science Behind Medicine Ball Training
The ability to produce maximal power is so very important not only in competitive athletics but as we become middle-aged and older adults as well. By building and maintaining power, balance, and strength, we all can live a very enjoyable and active lifestyle.
While performing medicine ball training for power you should focus on movement coordination and efficiency with the intent to move the medicine ball with explosive movements, and as fast as humanly possible despite the med balls weight.
Force depends on your ability to recruit what are called high threshold motor units, which are muscle fibers that have the ability to contract very fast and explosively. This ability is also known as neuromuscular efficiency and is enhanced with explosive medicine ball training.
15 Medicine Ball Exercises – The Total Body Workout
Full-Body Medicine Ball Exercises
1. Lunge With Overhead Press
Stand with the feet together, holding a medicine ball with a weight that is manageable for you, in front of the chest with both hands. Lift the right foot off the floor, bending the knee, and hold this position for one count before stepping forward into a lunge. With the body weight shifting to the right leg, reach the medicine ball straight overhead. While still in the lunge position, pull the ball back to the chest, and bring the front leg back to the starting position and repeat.
2. Lunge With Twist
Standing with feet about shoulder width apart, and shoulders relaxed, hold a medicine ball out in front of the chest. Step forward into a lunge with the right leg. Get deep into that lunge, making sure the front thigh is parallel with the floor, then with extended arms, reach the medicine ball to the right, rotating the torso at the same time. Maintain the lunge and return to center. Return to the standing position, then lunge with the other leg (and rotate to the left this time). Do the twist in place, or moving forward as walking lunges.
3. Squat Press and Throw
With your heels grounded, come to a squat position (as if sitting in an invisible chair). Drive through the heels to jump, and throw the ball straight up as high as possible. Let the ball drop to the ground and repeat. Be sure to step back after each throw so the ball doesn’t hit you in the head on the way down. This should be obvious, but I have seen dummies just stand there and take it off the noggin.
Legs and Glutes
4. Single-Leg Squat
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Lift the right foot off the ground and extend it forward. Hold the medicine ball in front of your midsection, and lower the body into a squat position. Return to start position, and switch legs. That is one repetition.
5. Reaching Romanian Dead-lift
This one will challenge your balance. Stand on the right leg, with a medicine ball in both hands. Bend the right knee slightly, and hinge forward at the hips, extending the left leg straight back. The body should now form a straight line that’s perpendicular to the standing leg. Return the extended leg to the floor, repeat, then switch legs. Maintain good focus and drive through your heels. This is one of my favorite hamstring / glute exercises.
6. Single-Leg Hip Bridge
Lie on your back and place your right foot onto the medicine ball. Squeeze the hips up toward the sky with the left leg straight in the air, and all your weight supported by the right foot and the shoulders. Pause for a one count, then slowly return to the start position, and repeat. That will make one repetition.
7. Circle Squat
Stand holding a medicine ball at the right hip. Circle the ball overhead toward the left, while stepping out the left leg to into a side squat (think of a sumo wrestler). Circle the ball all the way to the left side of the body, while still in the squat, then step the feet back together, and circle the ball back to the right. Repeat, then switch directions.
Chest and Back
8. Single-Arm Med Ball Push-Ups
Adding a medicine ball to your standard push-up quickly puts you into an even more challenging movement. Get into a high-plank with a medicine ball under one hand. Lower the chest toward the floor to perform a push-up. Return to high-plank and roll the ball to the other hand. (Modify by dropping to your knees.)
9. Medicine Ball Push-Ups
Begin in a standard push-up position, place your hands on the medicine ball, and shift your body weight forward until in plank position. Keeping the core tight, and the head aligned with the spine, slowly lower the chest toward the ball until it nearly touches the med ball. Make sure to keep the elbows pinned tightly at your sides. Finish the move by pressing upward through the arms until they’re fully extended. If you are not strong enough to perform this movement, go ahead and drop your knees on the mat.
10. Weighted Superman
Lie face down on the mat with arms stretched out in front, holding onto a lightweight medicine ball. Slowly raise your arms and legs up as high as possible, engaging the back muscles. Hold the position at the top for a three count, and lower the body back down to the mat and repeat.
11. Wall Pass
Find the nearest medicine ball wall (hint – it should be made of concrete and not glass). Stand about 3 to 4 feet in front of it, holding a lightweight medicine ball with both hands. Get into an athletic stance, with a slight bend in the knees, and the core engaged, bring the ball to the chest, and firmly throw it at the wall in a chest pass motion. Please be sure to catch the ball on its return.
Shoulders and Arms
12. Shoulder Press
This is a basic movement and very easy even for beginners but can be juiced up with a heavier ball. Hold a medicine ball at the chest (about an inch away, right in front of the sternum). Extend the arms to the ceiling, reaching the ball overhead, and slowly lower the ball back to the start position. If it feels too easy, grab a heavier ball and feel those shoulders burn. Ahhh burns so good!
13. Figure 8
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart while holding onto a medicine ball with both hands to one side of the head, with arms fully extended. Slowly move the medicine ball in a fluid, controlled motion, forming the figure 8. Repeat reps clockwise, then switch directions. Just like with shoulder presses progress to a heavier ball if it feels too easy.
14. Triceps Extension
Stand in a comfortable stance, or sit on a bench or a chair with your core engaged. Hold a medicine ball in both hands with the arms extended overhead. Now, bend the elbows, lowering the ball behind the head until the arms form a 45-degree angle (or as far as feels comfortable). Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms while bringing the ball back to the starting position.
15. Biceps Curl
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the med ball in both hands at the chest. Keep the elbows close to the body, lower the ball toward the ground until the arms are fully extended, then curl the ball back up to the chest. Lower the arms back to the starting position. Repeat.