Sometimes you just have to take your medicine when it comes to fitness. A medicine ball is a powerful tool to help you develop a powerful core, strong arms and a firm, toned chest. Strength training with a medicine ball can also be a lot of fun. You can help improve your strength and athleticism as you also work out your pent-up frustrations by slamming the ball against the ground.
Select a Medicine Ball
You might remember those big, brown, heavy sand-filled leather balls that your high school coach threw at you. Medicine balls have changed over the years. They are now available in a variety of sizes and weights. You can find a medicine ball as small as a baseball or as big as a basketball. Weight varies from 2 pounds to over 50 pounds. Use light balls for speed training and heavy balls for strength training. Medicine ball slams are a strength training exercise, so you will need a heavier ball. Select a ball that you can control. A good rule is to select a medicine ball weight that is about 50 percent of the weight you can lift using other weights, such as barbells or kettlebells. Start with a light ball and progress to heavier balls as your strength increases.
Overhead slams with a medicine ball work your butt, hips, legs, thighs, shoulders and core. Start with your feet about hip-width apart and hold a medicine ball firmly with both hands in front of your chest. Shift your hips back and down until your heels feel like they are going to lift off the floor. Swing the medicine ball back between your legs and then swing it up over your head. Straighten your knees as you bring the ball up over your head. Next, slam the ball on the floor directly in front of your feet as hard as you can. Do three to four repetitions in the beginning. Build up to more repetitions and increase the weight of the ball as you grow stronger.
Using a medicine ball can really improve your muscle power. Medicine ball slams are a challenging plyometric workout that uses the natural flexibility and elastic nature of your muscles. You'll also strengthen your tendons and ligaments when you do medicine ball slams. You won't develop the bulging biceps you see on people who lift free weights, such as heavy dumbbells and barbells. You will, however, experience an increase in your overall upper body strength, core stability and arm strength.
Use proper technique when slamming a medicine ball or you might need some pain medication for a strained muscle. Throw the ball with your arms extended and make sure your feet are always planted firmly on the floor. Be careful not to extend your arms too far back behind your head or you could lose your balance. Bend your knees and squat down to pick up a medicine ball. Lift your body and the ball up using your legs and keep your back straight to reduce your risk of back injury.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.