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Popularly incorporated into fitness regimen and sports practice, a medicine ball is also popular as the fitness ball, med ball and exercise ball. Medicine balls are believed to have been used by Persian athletes to improve strength and stamina about 3000 years ago. The early version of the medicine ball was made with animal skin and stuffed with sand. The father of medicine, Hippocrates recommended its use for rehabilitation and training.
Medicine balls are used for rehab, prevention of injuries and strengthening. Medicine ball exercises are important for developing sport-specific power. They can be used as part of circuit training format or plyometrics program. Medicine balls are used to increase the strength of core muscles.
Medicine balls are generally constructed from leather or vinyl covered nylon cloth. They are filled with impact-absorbing material so as to gain weight. Vinyl-covered medicine balls are usually filled with sand and are not used for exercises that include bouncing. Choose your exercise medicine ball to suit the specific recommendations from a trainer or physical therapist.
Medicine ball exercises
Medicine ball exercise can help in burning fat and building muscle. People looking at building certain muscle groups can benefit immensely from medicine ball exercises.
Set an AB bench at 45-degree angle.
Lie on the bench with your head near the floor.
Hook your feet under the support bars.
Hold the medicine ball in both hands held straight up over the head.
Lift your torso bringing the ball up with you.
Lower yourself and repeat.
Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Lateral flexion overhead
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Hold the medicine ball with your arms locked overhead.
Move the ball laterally to the right while bending slightly at your waist.
Return the ball to the overhead position.
Repeat for left side.
Standing triceps extension
Stand in an upright position.
Hold the ball behind your head using both the hands.
Extend your arms upward while keeping your upper arms motionless.
Flex your triceps for a count of one.
Lower the medicine ball back to the starting position.
Get into the push up position with the medicine ball underneath one hand and the other hand on the floor.
Perform a push up.
Lie on your back on the floor, keep your knees bent.
Hold the medicine ball against your chest with both hands.
Perform a standard crunch.
Hold the crunch position for the count of one while squeezing the abdominals tight.
Lower yourself to the start position while keeping your shoulder raised at least 1 inch from the floor.
Benefits of medicine ball exercises
Medicine ball exercises can help improve dynamic flexibility and help increase overall range of motion.
When the range of motion improves, more muscle fibers add in thereby building muscles quickly.
The medicine ball is an easy way to incorporate resistance training into abdominal workouts.
Medicine balls are a good alternative to weights.
Medicine ball weight
The weight of the ball used should be based on requirements of the individual and his/her fitness levels. The weight of a medicine ball varies from 2 to 25 pounds and 14 inches in diameter.
Heavyweight balls: Heavy medicine balls are used by athletes who train extensively. The extra weight contributes towards strength training, by providing more work to muscles during a variety of exercises. Medicine balls may be used in different exercise forms such as spinning, aerobic dancing, Pilates and yoga.
Lightweight balls: Beginners can use a medicine ball that is lighter. Using heavy balls could cause injury while exercising with it. Lighter balls are used for athletes who have been injured.
Medicine ball exercises for women
Women can use medicine balls to enhance their exercise schedule. Instead of using machine weights to stabilize the muscles, women can use medicine balls. Using moderate to heavy weight balls helps in building strong muscles.
Sit on an exercise ball and hold a medicine ball in your hands.
Position yourself so that your hips are at the edge of the ball and your back is supported by it.
Extend your arms over your head.
Curl your body forward.
Lift your shoulder blades off the ball.
Hold the position where there is maximum tension on your abdominal muscles for a second, and then slowly lower yourself.
Remember to perform this exercise slowly.
Keep the medicine ball over your head for maximum benefit.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent.
The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor.
Hold the medicine ball in your hands while you extend your arms out in front of you.
Now lean back until your body is angled at about 45 degrees.
Do not move your lower body as you turn your upper body to the right and touch the ball to the ground on the right side.
Next, touch the ball to the ground on the left side.
Repeat 15 times.
Sit and squeeze
Place your back against a wall with hips and shoulders squared.
Slide down until knees are at 90 degrees, you knees should be over ankles and your weight should be placed on the heels.
Squeeze a medicine ball or towel just above your knees and hold for 15 or more seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Double grip medicine ball
A double grip medicine ball, as the name suggests has two grips to hold on. The grips are located on either side of the ball. They are attached permanently to the ball. There are versatile medicine balls in which the handles can be attached or removed based on the requirements of the exercise. The handles on the medicine ball facilitate easy swinging thereby making it easy to perform a broad range of exercises.
More number of exercises can be performed using a double grip ball. The double grip gives an option of holding the ball in front of the chest; while also increasing resistance during sit-ups, lunges and squats. Apart from the above, a double grip medicine ball works wonders for chopping and overhead shoulder presses as these exercises require both hands grip.
Benefits of double grip medicine balls
The perfect medicine ball for core training.
Easy grip either with one or two hands.
>Can be used with dexterity, flexibility, and for rotational movements, lunges, chops, torso exercises and strength training.
Great method to exercise any area of your body including the core, upper and lower extremities.
Improves core strength, synchronization, range of motion, and flexibility.
Color coded according to weight.
Medicine ball abs
If you wish to target your core abdominal muscles, take up medicine ball abs exercises. A medicine ball can be used to specifically target a core area of the abdomen and work on that specific area. A large variety of movements can be tailored to increase strength and tone the muscles.
Trunk rotations with medicine ball
Sit upright on a mat or floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Hold the medicine ball in your lap close to your body.
Slowly exhale and rotate your torso taking the ball to one side.
Pause at the end and rotate to the other side.
Repeat the movement on both sides.
As you move, remember to keep your core and abdominal muscles tight.
Stand with your left foot forward and hold a medicine ball in both hands.
Slowly raise your arms with the medicine ball slightly up and behind your right ear.
Rotate your arms down and across your body until the medicine ball reaches the outside of your left foot (this movement resembles the action of chopping wood).
Repeat the movement on your right side.
As you move, remember to keep your core and abdominal muscles taut.
Crunch and toe touch
Lie on your back, your feet should be positioned off the floor and your legs should point straight up.
Keep your arms straight while holding the medicine ball.
Exhale while you lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
Attempt to touch your toes with the medicine ball.