The heavy, padded medicine ball is an old-school training technique with a renewed lease on life. Relative to lifting weights, medicine ball exercises have the advantage of forcing you to minimize the sharp, herky-jerky motions that tighten the muscles. Medicine balls are now used in training programs for a wide variety of sports to help develop strength and explosive muscle power, while retaining fluidity. There are exercises using medicine balls that allow you to train all parts of the body.
This is a basic medicine ball exercise recommended by Men's Health magazine. The idea is to draw a big circle around your torso. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise the medicine ball above your head, arms extended. Lower the ball and twist to your right without bending your elbows. Next bring the medicine ball to a position below your waist, then twist to your left and hold the ball at maximum extension. Conclude a repetition by returning the ball to the position over your head.
Do 10 repetitions in the clockwise direction, and then reverse to do 10 in the counter-clockwise direction. This exercise will work muscles in your arms, back and trunk, and can be increased in difficulty either by increasing the weight of the ball, or by simply performing the exercise more slowly.
This is a classic boxing exercise targeted at increasing explosiveness, that has positive effects for everything from punching to throwing to cutting wood. If you are right-handed, stand with your left foot forward and your feet shoulder-width apart. To practice with your right hand, put your right hand in a cocked position by your jaw, holding the medicine ball in the palm-up position. Throw the ball in one fluid motion starting with a push from your right ankle, turning your palm over to release the medicine ball as you extend your arm.
Heaving the extra 8 to 15 lbs. of weight will make the throw much more demanding for every muscle involved, from the ankle to the forearm. This both strengthens them and emphasizes training them to work in unison. To work the left arm, simply reverse your stance so your right foot is in the forward position.
Medicine Ball Sit-Ups
This is another classic boxing medicine ball exercise that also comes recommended by Men's Health. Assume the normal sit-up position, but hold the medicine ball against the center of your chest. Do sit-ups as normal. The medicine ball adds to the weight of your upper body, making the sit-up more difficult. To toughen your abdomen at the same time as you strengthen its muscles, lay flat on the floor and fling the medicine ball 2 or 3 feet in the air after every 10 sit-ups. Tighten your stomach muscles just before impact and let your belly take the blow. This is useful for any sport where you might have to take an unanticipated fall.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.