Staying Active Pays Off! If you answered yes to one or more questions, if Selecting and
Those who are physically active tend to live you are over 40 years of age and have been
longer, healthier lives. Research shows that inactive, or if you are concerned about your Effectively Using
health, consult a physician before .taking a \\
even moderate physical activity -- such as 30 fitness test or substantially increasing your
minutes a day of brisk walking -- significantly physical activity. If you answered no to each PROGRA
contributes to longevity. A physically active question, then it's likely that you can safely
person with such risk factors as high blood begin fitness testing and training. MMMMeeeeddddiiiicccciiiinnnneeee BBBBaaaallllllllssss
pressure, diabetes or even a smoking habit can
get real benefits from regular physical activity About Medicine Balls
as part of daily life.
As many dieters have found, exercise can help Medicine balls provide an effective means of
you stay on a diet and lose weight. Regular improving muscular power, endurance, and
exercise can also help lower blood pressure, functional fitness. Anyone can use medicine
control blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels balls to help improve his or her fitness.
and build stronger, denser bones. Medicine balls are used in a variety of settings -
in health clubs, to accommodate the health and
The First Step
fitness goals of novice exercisers, and by
advanced athletes to achieve sports-specific
Before you begin an exercise program, take a conditioning goals.
fitness test, or substantially increase your level
of activity, and make sure to answer the History
following questions. This physical activity
readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) will help Earliest descriptions of what is known as a
determine your suitability for beginning an "medicine ball" can be traced to ancient Greek
exercise routine or program. and Egyptian writing nearly 3,000 years ago. In
ancient Greece, the physician Hippocrates was
? Has your doctor ever said that you have a rumored to have used heavy padded balls sewn
heart condition or that you should participate in out of animal skins and stuffed with sand to
physical activity only as recommended by a treat and rehabilitate his patients. The
doctor? treatment, or "medicine," involved exercises that
? Do you feel pain in your chest during physical required throwing and catching these weighted
activity? balls, which is perhaps where the name
? In the past month, have you had chest pain "medicine ball" arose.
when you were not doing physical activity?
? Do you lose your balance because of dizziness? Medicine ball training reappeared in the
Do you ever lose consciousness? scientific literature beginning in the early
? Do you have a bone or joint problem that 1900s. However, as weight training grew in
could be made worse by a change in your popularity, interest in medicine ball training
physical activity? diminished in the United States. Sports like
? Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs for boxing and martial arts continued to utilize
your blood pressure or a heart condition? medicine balls to simulate blows to the body
? Do you know of any reason you should not during this period of decline.
participate in physical activity?
ACSM... Advancing Health through
Science, Fitness and Medicine
Why Use a Medicine Ball? the overload needed to create strength gains in throwing, catching, or added resistance. This
certain exercises. However, they do provide a will help determine whether or not you should
The resurgence of medicine balls has come
more comfortable and feasible means of safely select a standard ball or a specialty ball with
with the advent of plyometric training and the
increasing the load for certain exercises. For handles or ropes.
need for upper body exercises. Medicine ball
instance, a medicine ball can be used as added
training can be effective in improving muscular
resistance when held on the chest for a How heavy should the medicine
power. Movement velocity is a critical factor in
weighted crunch, as a more comfortable
power development. Plyometrics increase the
alternative to a rigid and awkward 45-pound ball be?
power of the movement by harnessing the
plate. People tend to choose a heavier ball than
required. The general rule when selecting a
natural elastic components of the muscles and medicine ball is that the "ball must be heavy
tendons as well as the stretch reflex. These Selecting a Medicine Ball enough to visibly slow the motion, but not so
quick movements develop explosive power heavy that control, accuracy, or range of motion
through powerful muscular actions. When Medicine balls can be found in a variety of sizes are lessened." Keep in mind that fatigue at the
training for power, acceleration of the resistance and weights, usually ranging from a few inches end of a workout will diminish motor skills;
without deceleration is in diameter (baseball sized) to larger than a therefore, if you lose control then the ball is too
basketball and from 1 to 30 pounds (1/2 kg to heavy.
important. Therefore, as a load is lifted, it would 14 kg). They also come in different shapes and
be ideal to avoid slowing the weight down at the constructed from different materials. Most For added resistance exercises and local
end of the exercise movement. This can be medicine balls are round, but they are also muscular endurance exercises such as
avoided by releasing or throwing the weight at available with built-in handles to offer improved weighted sit-ups, select a weight that allows you
the end of the movement rather than controlling grip and shaped as footballs for sport-specific to perform the desired amount of repetitions
it. Considering that it is safer and more feasible training. In addition, some medicine balls have without sacrificing technique and control. For
to throw a weighted, padded ball than a loaded been designed with single or double handles or power training, it is recommended that the
barbell, medicine balls are frequently used in ropes in order to increase specificity to training. medicine ball's weight corresponds to about 30-
power training to allow acceleration without Usually medicine balls are constructed of either 50 percent of the one-repetition maximum of a
deceleration. leather, nylon, or some rubberized material. similar weight training exercise.
Size does not always determine the weight of
As with any training method, medicine ball the medicine ball. Not all medicine balls are When should I increase the
training is one of the many "tools" in an constructed the same. Some are denser than
individual's routine. Medicine ball exercises others, so consider both the size and weight of weight?
promote variety by introducing a novel stimulus the ball when selecting the medicine ball. Following the principle of progressive overload,
for physiological adaptation. Training with a as you become stronger and more economical
medicine ball helps to develop total body power, Choosing the ball's weight and size is specific in your movement, then you will need to
muscular endurance, and flexibility. Medicine to the training goals of the individual. In general, progress to the next size.
ball exercises involving tossing and catching the smaller and lighter balls should be used for
ball are typically classified as a plyometric training speed, while heavier medicine balls Should I use a leather or a rubber
exercise (a specific type of exercise utilizing the would be utilized for strength-speed and/or medicine ball?
stretch-shortening cycle of the muscle to power training. When selecting a medicine ball Again, this depends on the exercises that will
produce power). Plyometric training is consider the following questions: be done. If the exercises require bouncing the
important to improve power development - the ball, a rubber ball should be selected. As a
combination of strength and speed. What exercises will I perform guide when selecting a rubber ball, it should
Although used as part of strength and with the medicine ball? bounce about two to three times when dropped.
conditioning programming, typically medicine This will help you determine the weight, shape, If the ball will be used for throw-and-catch, a
balls do not provide a sufficient load to produce size and construction of the ball you need. leather or nylon ball may be preferred.
Determine whether the ball will be used for
Is it better to start with a heavy or Exercises should follow the principle of medicine ball. Training partners should match in
lighter ball? specificity with movements and drills mimicking approximate size and strength. Remember to
When debating between two weights, it is better
those used in the sport. Medicine ball exercises practice each exercise before attempting to
to start light and gradually work up to greater
can be used for a variety of drills, such as: perform at a more intense pace or rhythm.
Practice will provide partners a chance to learn
resistance. This will ensure that proper Backward Overhead Medicine Ball Throw - proper execution of the movement while
movement technique and form is not Begin in a squat position holding the medicine ensuring accuracy and coordination.
compromised. ball in both hands between the legs. In a quick
movement, bring the arms upward and over the Like a good spotter, training partners should
Can I use one medicine ball for head releasing the ball at chest level and pay attention at all times throughout the
all exercises? following through. Repeat for the desired execution of the movement to ensure safety.
The size and shape of the medicine ball used number of repetitions. Establish a smooth rhythm of motion to reduce
will vary depending on the exercise being surprises and accidents. When throwing the
performed. It is important to remember that Chest Pass - With a partner, position your feet medicine ball, determine whether your partner
power and multi-joint exercises, such as the shoulder-width apart, in a power stance, knees is ready to receive the ball. When receiving,
backward overhead medicine ball throw or the slightly flexed, and abdominals tight. Pass the ensure that you keep your eyes on the ball.
overhead medicine ball squat, might require a ball to your partner at chest level. Receive the Catch the ball with extended and open hands
larger size ball in order to work muscles ball with a strong core and legs while retaining kept close together, and at contact, let the arms
sufficiently. However, exercises done with the your balance. Repeat for the desired number of flex, absorbing the impact.
ball at arms' length that seem manageable repetitions.
when held close to the body may be too heavy Safety Precautions
when held away from the body. Depth Push-Up - Lie in the push-up position
with both hands on the medicine ball and
Using a Medicine Ball elbows extended. Quickly remove the hands Although medicine ball training is a safe form of
from the medicine ball and drop down. Contact resistance training, as with any exercise,
the ground with hands slightly farther than injuries may occur if performed incorrectly. It is
Workout Area shoulder width apart and elbows slightly flexed important to always use good movement
Before using a medicine ball, ensure there is allowing chest to almost touch the medicine technique and control. In addition, it is
adequate space available to perform the ball. Immediately and explosively push up by important to follow proper exercise progression
selected exercise. The amount of space will fully extending the elbows and putting your to reduce your risk of injury and gain optimal
vary depending on the drill. Many medicine ball palms back onto the medicine ball. Repeat for training benefits.
exercises involve throwing and catching; the desired number of repetitions.
therefore, individuals must have spacious and
clutter-free area. For most exercises, the Medicine Ball V-Ups - Lie supine, on your back
minimum recommended area is about 20 with legs straight and arms extended straight
square yards, especially when performing overhead holding the medicine ball.
throwing exercises. When utilizing an indoor Simultaneously raise your legs and trunk into a
facility such as a gymnasium, ensure the seated V position, bringing the medicine ball
ceilings are high enough for all overhead and legs upright overhead. Return to start
throws. Medicine ball throws against the wall position and repeat for the desired number of
should only be done against concrete or repetitions.
reinforced walls. If the weather allows, training
outdoors in a field or grassy area is also Training Partners
recommended. Although not necessary for every exercise, a
number of medicine ball exercises require a
partner to assist in throwing and catching the
How much weight is needed for a medicine ball? When it comes to the recommended medicine ball sizes, the American Council of Exercise (ACE) recommends that medicine balls weighing between 4 and 15 pounds are the best starting points. While we agree to some extent, we prefer to recommend our 4,6 and 8 pound medicine balls to beginners, especially when focusing on high velocity throwing patterns.
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