Your high school gym teacher would be proud
With this free weight, looks can be very deceiving. At first glance you’d think it was a children’s toy, when in reality it’s anything but. Not many toys could make the kind of positive changes to your body that a medicine ball can. If you’re considering a medicine ball as your first stop in a new strength training program though, you’d be well advised to start with a good set of dumbbells instead.
What is a medicine ball?
If your high school gym classes were spent on the sidelines because of a real (or faked) condition, you might be wondering what a medicine ball is. Basically they are weighted balls about half the size of a basketball. For many, sand fulfills the weight requirement. Some medicine balls will bounce, but don’t get any ideas because it would be dangerous to play basketball with them.
What benefits do they provide?
Medicine balls are used in fitness and rehabilitation programs to create functional strength, improve stability and muscle coordination and build explosive strength. They aren’t the most popular way to weight train but they do have a purpose when it comes to building functional strength.
Medicine balls are great if you often work out with a partner. The ball can be held to the chest and thrown back and forth in a pushing motion, which works the arms, chest, legs and core. Partners may also sit facing each other with their abs engaged and feet lifted off the floor, pushing the ball back and forth without losing their balance. There are a number of moves like this that only the medicine ball allows.
The balls are also good for people with weak hands or conditions such as arthritis, who find holding dumbbells difficult.
When working out alone the medicine ball is best used to add resistance to core exercises. Side twists and weighted crunches are just two ways to incorporate them into an ab routine.
Types of medicine balls
- Regular - These balls come in a variety of colors and weigh between three and 22 lbs. Most cost around $30.
- Grip balls - For $30 or more you can get a medicine ball with a slotted handle. These balls allow you to perform more exercises and use the balls almost as you would a kettlebell.
- Double grip balls - A ball with slotted handles in each side will cost $40 and up.
While there are some very light (3 lbs) and relatively heavy (22 lbs) medicine balls, most people find they are satisfied with one that’s between 6 and 12 lbs.