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Many sports require activities that could arguably be described as explosive; a pitcher throwing a pitch in baseball, a player taking a slap shot in hockey and many others as well. While weight training is a good way to develop the muscles required for these types of actions, medicine ball training has been getting more popular by the minute. It is also a great program for the everyday fitness enthusiast to include into their daily regimen, at home or the gym.
A medicine ball is a large, weighted sphere that adds weight resistance to activities when they are performed using the medicine ball. Medicine ball training is sometimes preferable to weight training because weight exercises are very rigid in their technique whereas training with a medicine ball is a bit more fluid, allowing a person to mimic actions they might make during their sport in their training session.
Starting a medicine ball exercise program does not have to be difficult and indeed with careful planning by the instructor and hard work by the athlete, a 45-minute program can be devised that will not only work all of the muscles that the athlete/fitness enthusiast needs worked, but will also give them a great workout that not only benefits them but is also safe.
It is extremely important, just as it is with weight training, to go through warm up exercises first. These could include stretches or light cardio, but are necessary in order to prevent workout injuries. Likewise, a cool down period after training is required to prevent the cramping up of muscles as well as further potential injuries.
As far as the workout goes, the actual movements that are done are somewhat flexible but there are a few things that should be kept in mind. Firstly, different weights of medicine balls should be kept around and the athlete should start with the lighter weights and gradually build up to the heavier ones over the course of the workout.
Secondly, alternate body parts (like arms or legs) should be exercised in medicine ball training and the exercises done should mimic real life movements in order to get the full benefits. Lastly, try to arrange the workout so that you start with the easier, lower-movement exercises and work your way up to the ones with more movement and intensity.
Before we progress into some of the more specific exercise techniques, there are a few safety concerns that must be addressed. Medicine balls are bulky and heavy and for this reason if not handled properly could result in potential injury. Always be sure that you fully extend your arms when throwing the ball and have a solid braced position with feet firmly on the ground during a throw or catch. Additionally, if you are new to medicine ball training do not overextend yourself; such overextension may result in severe injury.
Generally speaking, the previous paragraph applies general technique points to all exercises. Below are a few general exercises that may be performed during training.
Torso Twists: Two athletes stand back to back and pass the ball between themselves by twisting their torso to do so.
Curls: Can work various muscles, but the two most common are hamstring curls and abdominal curls. Abdominal curls work like a normal two-way curl, except the medicine ball is held in place by the athlete’s knees.
Chest Pushes: The athlete holds the ball to their chest and then pushes it out (similar to a chest pass in basketball), propelling it to their partner. This exercise works the same muscle groups as doing a pushup, but is considerably easier to do.
Medicine ball training can be a very rewarding addition to your training sessions, but only if both you and your trainer understand the proper exercise techniques. Do research before hand, figure out a proper training program and practice techniques at lighter weights and slower paces before diving into the full workout regimen.
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