So the other day I had a fairly new student come in to kick off a training session. He was curious as to what I had on the agenda for the day and deciding that it would be a good day to enhance some power conditioning I decided to break out the medicine balls! Once I got a set of soft throwing and hard bounce medicine balls ranging in weight from 10 to 16 lbs. (depending on the size of the student) I quickly started getting some funny looks from the relatively new student. It was a look that kind of said to me “what the hell are we going to do with these little medicine balls?” Well there was plenty to do and if you continue reading I’ll be glad to give you a peek at some of the options.
Medicine Ball Training Rules…
As you know I love all kinds of training implements. I mean lifting heavy objects, deadlifting, squatting, kettlebell training, and getting creative with lifting dumbbells (the iron kind not the human kind) are all part of what I enjoy doing for both myself and my students. However, for today’s post I decided to throw the good ‘ole medicine ball some strength training love.
Now the beauty of medicine ball training is that it is low cost. I mean unless you’re breaking and tearing the balls up on daily basis then it’s going to be about as good of a cost effective training tool as you can make an investment in. In addition to being cost effective when implemented smartly medicine ball training can also be athletically very specific to you getting your body in gear for whatever relative sport or competition you happen to be engaged in.
Now going back to my relatively new MMA student of strength he got a first hand account of this once I introduced him to one of my little medicine ball complexes. As I introduced this to him and the rest of the class they quickly realized that the exercises from medicine ball training have a lot to offer as long as they are applied in the right way. Here are just a few of the benefits just in case you were curious for yourself:
- Dynamic core strength
- Improved reaction time
- Hand/eye coordination
- Improved mobility
- Enhanced work capacity
Now as you can see medicine balls can be hell to train with if you just know how to apply them and have an understanding of what you need to apply them for. Here’s a great little explosive drill I like to implement with my students to build on some of the characteristics I mentioned in the list above. I call these woodchopper medicine ball slams.
As you can see this drill provides several benefits that are obvious even to the casual observer. The key is making sure to circle the medicine ball around the shoulder girdle and over the head before slamming it to the ground splitting the mid-line of your body.
Every throw with this drill is alternated from circling about the shoulder girdle (on the right and left sides) and making sure the throw is executed by accurately splitting the mid-line of the body. After performing 5-10 reps (from both sides) you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about in terms of its effectiveness. If you find that you’re pretty good with this one then you can add a nice little variation to make it more of a challenge by using a slightly lighter ball and hammering out the single arm version!
As you can see a simple variation can make all the difference in the drill. The key is to progress based upon your ability level. There are an arsenal of throws and slams that you can perform to ramp up the intensity of your medicine ball sessions. Just be prepared to get some funny looks if you crank out some of these in the local gym, and if you happen to have a battery of questions to follow those funny looks then just memorize the list of benefits I provided earlier. I don’t know, after reciting those characteristics to a casual observer you may get even more funny looks. If all else fails just send them here to the site! 🙂
The other great thing about medicine ball training is that it doesn’t have to be limited to the walls of an indoor facility either. Just the other day I ran late training and filmed some overhead medicine ball throws outdoors at night! Fortunately I was able to utilize a well lit tennis court for the action and brought my camera along. Keep in mind this was filmed with my camera sitting on a tripod so I had to be dead on with my throws to pull this one off! Thankfully I didn’t HULK smash the hell out of my camera. 🙂
You see the throws followed by the runs offer an awesome combination of power and interval conditioning. These were performed with a soft textured sand filled medicine ball made for slamming and throwing. It doesn’t have a bounce and you can scale the intensity of the throws by adjusting the weight of the medicine ball in this drill.
Obviously you’ll be able to throw a lighter med ball a lot further, but this also means you’ll be running further as well! On the flip side if you use a heavier ball you’ll not be able to throw it as far, but each throw will be more challenging even though you won’t have as far to run. So either way you can scale the drill to emphasize which ever physical characteristic you think you need to train the most! Now the medicine ball is a brilliant training device right?
If you enjoyed this article then make sure you learn how to scale some other strong conditioning options by getting yourself a copy of my brand new Kettlebell Power And Speed Formula ebook here!
Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below in the comment box. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.