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Build explosive speed and power with a medicine ball

It’s one of the most ignored objects on the gym floor but in the right hands an old school medicine ball can transform your workouts – and your body – by improving hand-eye co-ordination, torching calories, hitting all your major muscles groups, sculpting a lean and defined set of abs, improving athleticism and boosting your functional fitness prowess, says New Body Plan’s Joe Warner

Don’t be fooled by its simplicity – the medicine ball is a silent game-changer on the gym floor. It’s an under-the-radar powerhouse capable of revolutionising your workouts, improving strength, stability, and coordination. More than a throwback to your school PE days, the medicine ball can dramatically amplify your performance, chiselling out a rock-hard six-pack to build a physique that brims with strength and self-assurance. Read on to discover all you need to know about the med ball, including our top-ranked exercises, to get the results you want!

TL;DR The medicine ball is a remarkable total-body workout tool that engages numerous muscle groups, boosts core stability, and enhances coordination. It’s uncomplicated, adaptable, and multifaceted, marking it an essential exercise implement for anyone keen on burning body fat, building lean muscle, and getting fitter and faster in one comprehensive move.

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What is a medicine ball?

A medicine ball is essentially a weighted ball, varying in size, used for fitness training. It’s a simple piece of equipment that’s been around for centuries, having its roots in ancient Greece. What makes it unique is the weight it carries, which serves as resistance during exercise. This means that you can use it to perform a plethora of workouts, from strength training and endurance exercises to balance and coordination drills. The exercises can involve lifting, throwing, or using the medicine ball as an added weight during movements like lunges or squats, which brings a new level of intensity to your workouts.

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What muscles does the medicine ball work?

One of the most significant advantages of the medicine ball is its versatility. Depending on the exercise you’re performing, it can target nearly every muscle group in your body. For instance, with a simple medicine ball slam, you’re effectively engaging your abs, glutes, quads, and shoulders. If you integrate a medicine ball into a lunge with a twist, you’ll be working your legs, glutes, and your entire core. Even the simple act of tossing and catching the ball during a game of catch can work your arms, shoulders, and core, improving coordination and reaction speed.

Why is the medicine ball so good?

First and foremost, it enhances functional strength: the kind of strength that aids you in everyday activities, improves your sports performance, and protects you from injury. And, as a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests, using a medicine ball can improve hand-eye coordination, potentially reducing the risk of accidents in daily life. Since medicine ball exercises can be explosive and engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, they’re superb at improving power, speed, and cardiovascular health.

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How do I do medicine ball exercises?

The beauty of medicine ball exercises lies in their simplicity. They involve natural movements- throwing, catching, moving the ball in different directions – all of which can be enhanced with the added resistance of the ball. For instance, a classic medicine ball slam involves lifting the ball over your head, then explosively throwing it down to the ground, using the strength of your entire body. It’s a powerful move that challenges your upper body, core, and lower body in one fell swoop, while also boosting your cardiovascular fitness.

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The best medicine ball exercises

Add these med ball moves to your workout to burn fat, build muscle and sculpt a lean, defined and athletic physique!

  1. Med Ball Slam: Targets the abs, shoulders, and quads
  2. Med Ball Lunge with Twist: Targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core
  3. Med Ball Russian Twist: Targets the obliques and abs
  4. Med Ball Squat to Press: Targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, and core
  5. Med Ball Overhead Throw: Targets the shoulders, triceps, and core
  6. Med Ball Woodchop: Targets the core, glutes, shoulders, and back
  7. Med Ball Chest Pass: Targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps
  8. Med Ball Wall Ball Shot: Targets the quads, glutes, shoulders, and core
  9. Med Ball Single-Leg Deadlift: Targets the hamstrings, glutes, and core
  10. Med Ball Mountain Climbers: Targets the shoulders, quads, and core
  11. Med Ball Seated Twist: Targets the abs and obliques
  12. Med Ball Push-ups: Targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core
  13. Med Ball Knee Lifts: Targets the lower abs and hip flexors
  14. Med Ball Pike: Targets the shoulders, abs, and lower back
  15. Med Ball Plank: Targets the core, shoulders, and glutes

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When should I do medicine ball moves?

Where to place medicine ball exercises in your workout routine depends on your fitness goals. If your focus is on developing power and strength, it’s best to do medicine ball exercises at the start of your workout when your muscles are fresh and energy levels are high. This way, you can perform each movement with maximum force and get the most out of the exercise. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for conditioning or a fat-burning effect, you can place these exercises towards the end of your workout. They can serve as a powerful fat-loss finisher, leaving your muscles thoroughly worked and your metabolism revved up.

What equipment do I need to do medicine ball exercises?

In terms of equipment, you don’t need anything more than a medicine ball to perform the exercises. Medicine balls come in a variety of weights, typically starting at 1kg and increasing in 1kg increments up to around 25kg or even 30kg in big gyms. Choose one that challenges you but still allows you to perform exercises with proper form. As you get stronger and more comfortable with the movements, you can gradually move on to heavier balls.

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What other moves are similar to medicine ball exercises?

There are several other exercises and equipment that offer similar benefits to medicine ball exercises. For instance, kettlebell exercises also involve dynamic movements that can engage multiple muscle groups and improve functional strength. Similarly, exercises with dumbbells can also mimic some of the movements you can do with a medicine ball, although they may lack the same level of coordination and balance challenges due to their different shape and handling.

Is the medicine ball suitable for beginners?

Yes, absolutely. The medicine ball is an excellent tool for beginners because of its versatility and the natural, functional movements it encourages. It allows beginners to improve strength, coordination, balance, and cardiovascular fitness, all in a single piece of equipment. When starting, it’s advisable to choose a lighter ball to ensure you can control the movements safely. As you get stronger and your technique improves, you can then move on to heavier balls.

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What else do I need to know about the medicine ball?

While the medicine ball is a simple and effective tool for fitness, it’s important to remember that, like all exercise equipment, it should be used with proper technique. Improper form can not only reduce the effectiveness of your workout but also increase the risk of injury. This is particularly important when performing high-speed, explosive movements like slams or throws. So always ensure you’re maintaining control of the ball and performing each movement with correct form.

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How to do the medicine ball exercises

  • Select a medicine ball that you can control well. It should be heavy enough to provide resistance, but not so heavy that it affects your form.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout all exercises. This is crucial for stability and injury prevention.
  • Use your whole body when throwing or slamming the ball, not just your arms. This ensures you’re getting a full-body workout and not overstraining your upper body.
  • Maintain control of the ball at all times. This is particularly important during fast or explosive movements.
  • Always start with slow and controlled movements. As you get more comfortable and your strength improves, you can increase the speed and intensity of your exercises.

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How many reps should I do?

The number of reps you should do depends on your fitness goals. If you’re focusing on power and strength, you’ll want to aim for lower reps – around 6 to 10 – with a heavier ball. This allows you to focus on explosive, high-intensity movements. If your goal is conditioning or endurance, aim for a higher number of reps – around 15 to 20 – with a lighter ball.

How many sets should I do?

As for sets, a good starting point is to do three to five sets of each exercise. If you’re a beginner, you might start with just one or two sets and gradually increase as your strength and endurance improve. Remember, the goal is to challenge yourself, but not to the point of compromising your form or safety.

How much weight should I lift?

When it comes to choosing the weight of your medicine ball, start with a weight that you can handle comfortably and that allows you to perform each exercise with proper form. As you get stronger and your technique improves, you can gradually increase the weight.

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