Create a different twist with your workout by grabbing a medicine ball, which adds resistance to your existing moves and gives you a plyometric element to help shoot your heart rate up. Medicine balls come in different sizes, weights and, thankfully, colors, to meet your exercise as well as style needs.
Losing weight means burning more calories than you eat -- 3,500 more calories to lose 1 pound, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It sounds simple, but losing weight requires regular cardiovascular exercise. A medicine ball can help you vary your cardio routine to keep it interesting and exciting, which means you're more likely to keep going back for more. It's designed to be held with both hands, which means you can toss it to another person, bounce it off the floor or wall, or move it around vigorously in moves such as squats to add a new challenge to your existing workout.
Medicine balls may resemble basketballs or colored play balls, but it's not a good idea to try to kick one around -- they are weighted and very solid. Use medicine balls as an alternative to dumbbells in some muscle-building moves, such as an overhead press or dead lift. Even when used in your cardio workout, the extra resistance builds muscle. Muscles helps you burn fat more effectively, increasing your metabolism and helping you lose weight faster.
A benefit of using a medicine ball is the ability to work out your frustration and your body at the same time. By tossing or bouncing the ball, you add a plyometric element to your workout that can ramp up your heart rate quickly. For example, extend your arms above your head as you hold the ball, then squat and throw the ball onto the ground -- make sure you're using a ball designed to bounce. Catch it on the bounce, controlling the movement and absorbing the ball's momentum with your arms. Stand up out of the squat and lift your arms back over your head, then finish 10 repetitions. You can also toss the ball to a partner from different positions, such as the top of a situp or part of your lunge. Tossing heats up your muscles and gets your blood flowing, but so does catching; stopping the movement of the ball with your arms is an explosive movement. Do five to 10 repetitions, depending on how heavy the medicine ball is. To help raise your heart rate at the beginning of your workout, hold the ball with both hands and make a large circle with your arms, keeping your elbows straight, for 12 repetitions. For more difficulty, make figure eights in front of you.
In some of your typical exercises, such as lunges, the resistance of a medicine ball forces your muscles to work to their full potential. As you sink into a lunge, twist your body to both sides, lowering the medicine ball toward the floor for 15 repetitions. Lifting and lowering works your arms while the twisting motion brings your abs and obliques to the party. Holding the position stable means powerful glutes and thigh muscles. Situps get harder when you're holding a medicine ball in front of your chest, and your arm muscles work with constant contraction to hold the ball steady as you move. Try to do two sets of 10. Lifting the ball over your head works your shoulders, and you can lower it in front of you and to each side to work muscles in your upper arms and forearms. Do at least 10 lifts with a ball of a challenging weight.
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