By: Will Sunner
Medicine Ball Training
“As long as there has been athletes, there have been medicine balls” – Olympic Weight Lifting Coach Istvan Javorek.
Medicine ball training dates as far back as 1000 B.C. when Persian wrestlers used them to train. Gladiators, Renaissance physicians, and the US Military Academy have all used the medicine ball to stay in peak physical condition or for rehabilitative purposes. Today, everyone from elite level athletes to your average exercise enthusiast can reap the benefits of this ancient, yet effective training tool.
The benefits of medicine ball training are vast:
- Increased Proprioceptive (Bodily) Awareness: Proprioception is the ability to sense the position, orientation and movement of the body in space. Medicine ball training enhances ones proprioception because its unpredictable nature forces you to react and adapt to it. Performing any exercise that requires you to catch, throw, and react to the medicine ball will improve your proprioceptive awareness.
- Functional Training: The versatility and freedom of the medicine ball allows you to train in multiple planes of movement. With traditional, machine based training we are often ‘fixed’ in one plane. Everyday life requires us to move in 3-D, so our training should reflect that. Performing exercises such as wood chops, torso rotations, and lunge matrixes with different medicine ball reaches prepares our body for its daily demands.
- Power Development / Sport Specific Training: Power is an essential element of human movement and sports performance. Medicine ball training is a great tool for power development because it creates stored elastic energy in our muscles that can increase the speed and strength of each muscular contraction. It also forces us to use multiple muscle groups at one time rather than isolating any one area, which directly correlates to most sports.
- Core Training: Medicine ball training requires the core to be engaged at all times and to work in unison with the rest of the body, rather than in isolation (such as doing crunches). It teaches your core how to accelerate and decelerate the body while moving through space. Having a strong, ‘smart’ core will keep you injury free and improve your function in both everyday life and in athletics.
Always remember to maintain your focus when training with a medicine ball. No matter what exercise you are doing, know your end-points and make every rep count. As always, the more effort you put in, the more benefits you will receive. Train hard, have fun and enjoy the benefits of this great training tool!
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