FITNESS & NUTRITION

“Medical Gymnastics” – Medicine Ball Throw/Sprint

Weighted balls are one of the oldest fitness tools still used today. It’s claimed that the Greek physician Hippocrates had patients toss stuffed animal skins around to improve their health. A Renaissance era physician recommended (what are now known as) medicine balls be a part in everyone’s routine of “medical gymnastics” as a tool to help prevent injuries and improve general fitness. Medicine balls were used as early as 1000 BC when Persian wrestlers would use ‘stuffed animal bladders” as a part of their physical preparation routines. Today, medicine balls can be found at nearly every fitness retailer and all of the top boxing and MMA gyms.

It’s easy to understand why medicine balls have been revered and endured as important fitness tools for a long time. They provide portability and versatility in the amount of ways they can be used (slams, throws, etc.). Medicine balls are useful in the development of multiple facets of fitness including power, conditioning, and speed. Another major advantage of using a medicine ball is ease of use- which makes them accessible for any fitness level. While there is a multitude of ways to use a medicine ball, ballistic training is one of the most beneficial. Ballistics refers to accelerating a weight and releasing the object at maximum velocity, rather than decelerating after reaching maximum velocity (like with traditional strength training methods).  Throwing a medicine ball is a classic example of a ballistic exercise and it’s one of the most effective ways to develop explosiveness. Developing explosiveness transfers over to virtually all sports where power is valued. This includes grapplers seeking a more explosive shot and boxers who want knockout power. Even for someone that doesn’t play any of these sports, this type of training is beneficial because it builds fast twitch muscles. These are the muscle fibers we typically lose as part of the natural aging process.

This workout pairs up a ballistic medicine ball throw with a sprint to provide ultimate metabolic benefits.  The throw style you’ll use for this workout is a backwards overhead throw-this style of throwing requires a triple extension. This is beneficial because triple extension movements recruit muscles from throughout the body (upper, lower, and core) and they transfer over to virtually every athletic movement (jumping, sprinting, throwing).  Sprinting makes us more efficient at fat oxidation at rest and during other forms of exercise. Sprints are one of the exercises that have the highest EPOC rates- meaning you will burn calories even after the workout has finished.  Lastly, sprinting has been shown to increase the amount of mitochondria we have in our bodies. The mitochondria are some of the most metabolically active parts of cells that play a role in everything from energy conversion to hormonal signaling.

To perform this workout start out by doing a backwards overhead throw as far as possible, immediately turn around and sprint after the ball. This will count as one rep.

Ballistic Medicine Ball Throw/Sprint Circuit – Preform this workout for a total of 3 sets.  One set consists of 6 reps of throws/sprints and then a 2 minute rest before starting the next set.

 

The Workout

Backwards Overhead Medicine Ball Throw/Sprint – x 6

Rest – 2 min

Backwards Overhead Medicine Ball Throw/Sprint – x 6

Rest – 2 min

Backwards Overhead Medicine Ball Throw/Sprint – x 6

Rest – 2 min

 

by Erick Avila

Erick Avila
About the Author:

Erick Avila.

Erick Avila is a strength & conditioning coach/nutritionist. He works with top-ranked professional boxers and athletes. He specializes in areas ranging from boxing-specific physical preparation and hormone optimization to general weight loss. Erick’s training methods have been featured on various prominent fitness magazines and websites.

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