5 Medicine Ball Workouts to Increase Upper Body Strength
Working out with a medicine ball is a good way to add explosive power to your sport. Plyometric exercises are designed to provide this extra burst of strength and many of them utilize a medicine ball for this reason.
Extra power comes from the rapid contraction and then release of the muscles under resistance or weight. Weightlifting utilizes a smooth movement to push or pull weight and so the muscles aren’t programmed to reach their peak performance until the zenith of a typical exercise is reached.
However, when you train with instant and explosive movements under weight (either that of your own body as in Drop Jumps or Pushup Hand Claps, or with weights such as a medicine ball) then your muscles are trained to deliver an almost instance response.
In this particular article we will focus on 5 good medicine ball exercises to increase the explosive power of your upper body.
First the Warm Up
Before you get started in your medicine ball routine, you should first adequately warm up in order to loosen the muscles and avoid injury. You will be practicing very rapid muscle movements under high intensity conditions so you want to make sure your muscles are sufficiently warmed.
Overhead Rotation – Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and holding the medicine ball directly over your head with both hands. Rotate your body at the hips and torso, first one direction and then the other, keeping the medicine ball in a stationary position. This exercise will loosen up your back and abdominal muscles as well as your shoulders which work to hold up the ball.
Bending Arm Swing – Start in the same position, standing with the ball held overhead. Bend over forwards at the waist while at the same time swinging your arms down and through your legs. Pull the ball back up and over your head as you stand erect again and repeat. Be sure to control the movements. This exercise loosens up the waist, abdominals, arms and leg muscles.
Rotate between these exercises until you have worked up a light sweat and then you are ready for your medicine ball workout.
You will need a partner for the following exercises and you should begin with 3 sets of 6 for each. Also, beginners should take a short break in between the strength training sets until you become accustomed to the exercises.
When you’ve built up adequate strength, keep your breaks to a bare minimum so you work the muscles harder. This will add both explosive strength and endurance to your medicine ball workout. Because these strength training exercises are performed with a partner, when you need to raise the level of your workout, simply extend the distance between you and them. You can also increase the number of passes in each set.
Workout #1 – Chess Press Pass
Stand facing your partner at a distance that is comfortable for throwing the medicine ball. Hold the ball in a way that resembles a chest pass in basketball and, with all your force, pass the ball to your partner.
When your partner returns the ball, catch it solidly and allow the momentum to carry it back to a starting position against your chest and repeat.
Workout #2 – Under Arm Pass
The motion of this exercise resembles the “granny shot” in basketball. Stand with legs at a comfortable distance apart. Hold the medicine ball directly out in front of you. Lower the ball between your legs and pass it to your partner with all your force.
When passing the medicine ball, control the movements and focus on using your arm muscles instead of the momentum from a large swinging motion. Receive the pass back from your partner and immediately repeat.
Workout #3 – Side Arm Pass
While standing and facing your partner, hold the medicine ball in one hand to your side and level with your chest while steadying it with the other hand. With all your force, pass the ball to your partner with one arm.
Catch the return pass from your partner with both hands, immediately reset to the opposite side and throw with all your force again, alternating until you complete the set.
Workout #4 – Sit-Up and Pass
Begin this medicine ball exercise from a supine, sit-up position holding the medicine ball over your chest, arms bent at the elbows. With great force, sit up and pass the ball as hard as possible to your partner.
From a sitting position, catch the return pass in a controlled manner, allowing it to reset you into a supine position and repeat.
Workout #5 – Overhead Pass
Begin from a standing position, hold the medicine ball above one shoulder with one hand in a similar way as when you are passing a football and steady it with the other. Throw the ball with all your strength to your partner using only the holding arm.
Catch the return pass from your partner with both hands and immediately reset to the opposite side and pass back. When you want more strength training from this exercise, try it from a kneeling position which works out the upper body even more by eliminating the use of the legs.
Workout regularly with these 5 medicine ball exercises and you will notice an explosive power develop in your upper body.
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