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How medicine balls work their magic


We play sports with a ball all the time. Using a ball for athletic development is hardly a novel concept, but it truly can bring a new aspect to athletic development training. The simple idea of training with a ball makes coordination essential to executing the exercises. It’s impossible to use medicine balls without using gravity and enhancing linkage through multi-joint movements.

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Medicine ball myths and truths

The term medicine ball was coined by Robert J. Roberts in 1876. He had been inspired by one of the stories in Arabian Nights where an Eastern Potentate was advised by his physician to toss a large, soft ball of herbs a certain number of times a day until ‘he did sweat.’ Movement was being recommended as medicine back in ancient times. Roberts made a ball weighing 7-8lbs and sewn like a baseball. He then recommended a series of exercises in his work with the Y.M.C.A. that included lifting, circling and throwing the medicine ball. 

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Staying fit in a pandemic: Vol. 9

Today’s circuit involves one piece of equipment – a medicine ball. If there was one piece of equipment that I would recommend to get through this time, it would be a 3-kilogram medicine ball. Medicine balls are endlessly versatile. Read more

Making your throws training more reactive

We talked with German national coach René Sack about reactive training earlier this month on the HMMR podcast. Throwing far involves strength, but it also involves the stretch-shortening cycle. Therefore it is important that training also takes this into consideration. Our chat got me thinking about the topic and below are a few more ideas of how you can start integrating reactive throwing elements into training. Read more

All training is core training

When it comes down to it, all training is core training. As we discussed on the GAINcast this week, no matter how you define it, the core is involved in all movement as a major factor in control of movement. Without a fully functioning core, efficient movement is not possible. Read more

Force summation through medicine ball training

If you listen to our podcast, you’ll know I love training with medicine balls. The reason I like it so much because a good medicine ball throw requires you to recruit and coordinate forces from the entire body. This is also known as the summation of forces: when all body parts act simultaneously in practice, the strongest and lowest body parts around the center of gravity move first, followed by the weaker, lighter, and faster extremities. This is also known as sequential acceleration and results in successive force summation.

» Related content: Watch Nick demonstrate and explain his favorite medicine ball routines in the HMMR Classroom Lesson 5.

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April 2018 in review: beyond the barbell

Coaches need a lot of tools in their toolbox. If all the strength coach knows is the barbell, then they are limiting their ability to solve more complex problems. Therefore for the site theme in April we chose going beyond the barbell, bringing together 3 new videos, 2 podcasts, and 5 articles to look at different ways coaches can solve problems with other training methods. All the links are below, but first I wanted to share a few ideas that crystallized in my mind this month. Read more

Integrating medicine ball training into the plan

This article was originally posted on High Performance West. Jonathan Marcus is building a great platform over there, so check it out.

In my article last week I looked at the unique advantages offered by medicine ball training and how to design exercises to get the most out of the dynamic training tool. But once you find the right exercises you also need to put then into a plan. Should medicine ball training complement the primary sport work you are doing? Should it contrast it? And how do we make sure it doesn’t counteract it? Finding the right plan is perhaps more important than finding the right exercises. Read more

How to get the most out of medicine balls

This article was originally posted on High Performance West. Jonathan Marcus is building a great platform over there, so check it out

When I was first handed a medicine ball in training, the first thought that came to mind was “the grind.” I had a preconceived notion of the medicine ball as an arcane training tool used exclusively in vintage newsreels of calisthenics. Individuals would pick up a heavy leather ball and grind through exercises with a partner. The public image of medicine balls has change a lot in the decades since, but often the intent in medicine ball training – the grind – remains. That’s unfortunate as it keeps us from getting the most out of a great training tool. Read more

Strength Methods for Distance Runners

Earlier this week we looked at why runners need to lift. Now that you understand the why, let’s look at what kind of strength training provides the specific neuromuscular and physiological benefits we discussed above. To review, there are three purposes to lifting:

  1. Improve running economy;
  2. Provide movement patterns that contrast the repetitive nature of running; and
  3. Accelerate recovery to prepare for the next hard workout and to reduce injury potential.

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