BlogExplosive ModeMarch

Explosive Medicine Ball Training

Olympic lifts such as the snatch, clean and jerk, have always been a part of training programmes of performance athletes. Coaches tend to agree that training the fast twitch muscle fibers with heavy resistance translates well to improved performance in almost any sport. A less technically demanding alternative is to use a medicine ball instead of a barbell. A medicine ball allows multi-directional movement albeit with less resistance. Unfortunately the medicine ball is often only seen as a progression tool for Olympic lifts. Come to think of it, the medicine ball is probably one of the best kept secrets of professional athletes.

Medicine Ball Exercises for Speed and Strength Training

Full range of motion

A lot of sprint coaches will tell you to never break after passing the finishing line. The body should not be taught to resist speed, but rather to roll out to a stop. This philosophy can be applied when training the fast twitch muscles in the upper body as well. By letting go of the medicine ball when throwing it, you avoid the sudden stop-mechanism. This is contrary to an olympic lift that requires a static finishing position. So unlike the weight room exercises, there is no deceleration when the body is fully extended.

Partner Up

We all have friends that hate gyms, hate running and hate outdoor calisthenics. But what about a medicine ball workout? Cross your fingers that it will work, because without a partner you will spend most of the workout fetching a ball like a terrier. Can a wall replace a training partner? It depends of what type of training partner you have. Are you getting that intense motivation, guidance and competitive drive? If it's like talking to a wall, then you might as well talk to a real wall.

In the Outdoor Edition (Fit Businessman) video guide we demonstrate how to use a pole vault matress to automatically retrieve the medicine ball in an exercise called 'slams'. You can also use soccer goals or discus cages to catch your throws in cases where a straight wall can not be used.

No Meteorological Excuses

Of all the training gadgets I have in the trunk of my car, the medicine ball is definitely the tool of last resort. Whether it's achillees tendon pain or snow up to the knees, there are always medicine ball exercises that you can do. Below are some of my favorite medicine ball exercises listed. Hopefully they can entice your friend to switch gears to explosive mode and train with you.

Warm Up

If you are only going to do upper body exercises, then it's sufficient if you spend ten minutes throwing a tennisball/basketball/volleyball against a wall in all imaginary ways you can think of. The idea is to use various angles in order to activate all muscles. A lot of professional athletes end their work-out with medicine ball exercises and in such cases there is no need for a separate warm-up.

Upper Body Exercises

Overhead throw backwards resembles a Snatch and can either be done for height or length. This is a typical warm-up throw for shot putters.

Log toss is similar to the previously mentioned Overhead throw except that it the ball is released in the direction you are facing.

Side throw is done by standing sideways and twisting the body while tossing the ball.

Static wall ball is similar to the Thruster or Wall ball done by cross-trainers, except that the legs are still.

Lower Body Exercises

Knee drive is performed by throwing the ball with the knee while doing a knee strike while facing the wall.

Step-ups are done on a small box. Take a couple of steps and take off like a high-jumper and throw the ball as your body fully extends.

Core Exercises

Slow-motion overhead lunges requires balance and core endurance. Hold the medicine ball over your head with extended arms.

Sitting ab twist with pass requires that you sit on your butt with your legs in the air while returning passes to your partner/wall.

Sitting ab twist with pick-and-drop is done without a partner. Leave the medicine ball on one side of your body, twist your upper-body without it, pick it up, twist 2 rounds with it, leave it, twist without it...

Combo Exercises

This is Explosive Mode. We combine the speed training involved in medicine ball exercises with the strength training involved in weight lifting. A simple way to execute this is to take a break half-way into your weight lifting session, carry out three of the exercises described above, and then finish the weight lifting session. Personally I prefer to directly combine exercises back-to-back. This is also known as 'complex' training which is based on the idea that the resistance work engages the central nervous system prior to the explosive movement. For instance a heavy deadlift with a medicine ball overhead toss or overhead barbell presses with static wall balls. When you are outdoors you can be creative and use the edge of a bench for a deadlift and replace the overhead barbell press with hand stand push-ups, for instance.

In case this article does not help you convince your training partner to join your outdoor training session, you can combine medicine ball throws with runs. Then you always sprint to the location where the ball lands. My favorite is the chest pass from a knee stance into a 40 yard sprint (pictured below).

chest pass from knee stance - mecidine ball throws

You can find more medicine ball exercises and tips on how to incorporate them to your workout in The Fit Businessman (Outdoor Edition) video guide.

You can find the second Medicine Ball article here

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