One of my favorite training tools is the ball...slam balls, wall balls, medicine balls... I think you get the idea...
They are just fantastic on so many levels! Just ask some of my spring and summer bootcampers how I feel about them, as they often find them incorporated in their afternoon workouts with me.
Why do I love them so much, you ask?
Well, for one reason ... because they are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I can think of that are both extremely portable and durable. You can literally get a full body workout using just one or two balls, which means you don’t need to go anywhere to get a good workout in—you can literally use one ball right in your home or backyard! And, depending on what surface you are working out on—and which ball you choose—you can change the way the ball responds. If you choose to workout on pavement, asphalt, or your basement concrete, the ball will yield a bigger bounce back for two of the types of balls. If you choose turf or dirt, the bounce back will be a bit less or none.
There are varied types, sizes, and weights to choose from:
The “slam ball”—my personal favorite—is a pliable rubber ball usually filled with sand that will not bounce back and “sticks” to the ground when you throw it.
The “wall ball,” or soft medicine ball, is a material made, sewn ball usually filled with wool and sand, that will give you a little bounce back when thrown—just enough bounce back for you to catch. I find this type is a great one to start with.
“Medicine balls” are made of rubber, but are harder like a basketball, and give a much BIGGER bounce back when slammed—and if you are not careful, they can be known to come back and hit you in the face! So be forewarned.
Another reason why I love them is that you can use the ball for training strength, power, and/or conditioning. Depending on the exercises you choose, you can target your whole body—triceps, abdomen, shoulders, calves, back, glutes, quads ... you name it. They are also great at teaching your body how to react in an ever-changing environment, and in a more functional way than the standard barbell or dumbbells. They help build coordination and spinal stability because they can work you in a full range of motion, all while helping to build multi-directional core control!
Seriously, what is there not to love!?
There is also something to be said about being able to throw something down as hard as you possibly can over and over again that is just pure fun—and can even sometimes be therapeutic.
Lastly, they are great for building cardiovascular endurance. You can pick up the ball from the ground, clean and press it overhead, then slam it down to the ground in a powerful and controlled manner, and if done repeatedly, you will be sure to get that heart rate up in no time.
If you’ve never tried this piece of equipment, I suggest starting out with a lighter ball depending on your fitness level. I usually have my clients start out with a 8- or 10-lb. slamball and go up from there. At my bootcamps, I typically will have a bunch of 10-lb. balls for more conditioning based work, and some heavier balls (20- to 30-lbs.) for strength-based moves like squats or deadlifts.
Here is a sample full body workout you can try on your own:
(With muscles worked indicated and what you are specifically working on while doing so.)
Medball Madness Circuit
Warm up: 5 minutes of marching in place, open book or t-spine rotations, and air squats.
Workout: Complete 8-12 reps of each of the following exercises in a circuit fashion (one exercise after the other with little or no rest in between exercises). Aim for 1 - 5 rounds, based upon your fitness level and ability. (1-3 rounds for beginners, 3-5 for advanced)
If you try it, let me know how you like it.
1. Deadlift with Row (hamstrings, lower back, lats) (strength)
2. Thrusters (quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders) (conditioning)
Medball Slams (quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders) (power/conditioning)
3. Bicep Curls (biceps)
4. Tricep Extensions (triceps) (strength)
5. Weighted Bridge (glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae, core) (strength)
6. Ball Pass with Pullover (core, lats) (strength)
Rest and repeat 3 -5 times.
Don't have a medicine ball? You can do this workout with one kettlebell or dumbbell...minus the slams, of course.
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