Many sports require activities that could arguably be described as explosive; a pitcher throwing a pitch in baseball, a player taking a slap shot in hockey and many other ones as well. While weight training is a good way to develop the muscles required for these types of actions, medicine ball training has been getting more popular by as time goes by.
A medicine ball is a large, weighted sphere that adds weight resistance to activities when they are performed using the medicine ball. The reason that medicine ball training is sometimes preferable to weight training is that weight exercises are very rigid in their technique whereas medicine ball training exercises are a bit more fluid, allowing a person to mimic actions they might take during their sport in their medicine ball training session.
Medicine Ball Training Program
Starting a medicine ball training program does not have to be difficult and indeed with careful planning by the instructor and hard work by the athlete, a 45-minute medicine ball program can be devised that will not only work all of the muscles that the athlete needs worked, but will also give them a very decent workout that not only benefits them greatly but is also safe at the same time. It is extremely important with medicine ball training, just as it is with weight training, to go through warm up exercises first. These could include stretches or light cardio, but are necessary in order to prevent workout injuries. Likewise, a cool down period after the medicine ball training session is required to prevent cramping up of muscles as well as further potential injury.
As far as the workout goes, the actual movements that are done are somewhat flexible but there are a few things that should be kept in mind. Firstly, different weights of medicine balls should be kept around and the athlete should start with the lighter weights and gradually build up to the heavier ones over the course of the workout. Secondly, alternate body parts (like arms or legs) should be exercised in medicine ball training and the exercises done should mimic real life movements in order to get the full benefit of the medicine ball training. Lastly, try to arrange the workout so that an athlete starts with the easier, lower-movement exercises and works their way up to the ones with more movement and intensity.
Before we progress into some of the more specific exercise techniques, there are a few safety concerns that must be addressed. Medicine balls are bulky and heavy and for this reason if not handled property could result in potential injury. Always be sure that athletes fully extend their arms when throwing a medicine ball and have a solid braced position with feet firmly on the ground during a throw or catch. Additionally, be sure that athletes that are new to medicine ball training do not overextend themselves; such overextension may result in severe injury.
Generally speaking, the previous paragraph applies general technique points to all exercises. Below are a few general exercises that may be performed during medicine ball training.
Torso Twists: Two athletes stand back to back and pass the medicine ball between themselves by twisting their torso to do so.
Curls: Can work various muscles, but the two most common are hamstring curls and abdominal curls. Abdominal curls work like a normal two-way curl, except the medicine ball is held together by the athlete’s knees.
Chest Pushes: The athlete holds the ball to their chest and then pushes it out (similar to a chest pass in basketball), propelling it to their partner. This exercise works the same muscle groups as doing a pushup, but is considerably easier to do.
Medicine ball training can be a very rewarding addition to an athlete’s training sessions, but only if both coach and athlete understand the proper exercise techniques. Do research before hand, figure out a proper training program and practice techniques at lighter weights and slower paces before diving into the full workout regimen.