Medicine ball, fitness ball, exercise ball, med ball – they’re all the same things, heavy balls. They generally measure the same as the diameter of the shoulders (around 14″) and have been used for centuries as a way of strengthening and conditioning training for many different sports. These days they are usually made from vinyl, leather or some type of nylon cloth, and filled with sand or some other heavy absorbent material until they weigh anything between 2-25lb, which isn’t really all that different from some of the original medicine balls which Hippocrates had made around 3000 years in ancient Greece, animal bladders filled with sand – “you have it” – “no, to you” – “straight back at you” – no wonder nobody wanted to hang on to them for very long. These days if you can’t afford a proper medicine ball and want something similar, you can simply unstitch an old basketball and fill it with sand – hey, isn’t that called recycling?
Using a Medicine Ball
Professional boxers use medicine balls a lot, particularly to help them to improve the strength in their abdominal muscles. They call it training but it sounds pretty harsh to me, the trainer literally drops a medicine ball onto the stomach of the boxer over and over again, to simulate him being punched by an opponent. All in the name of sport! Medicine balls are also used by athletes from many different sports in pairs – if you hold a medicine ball against your chest before thrusting it to an opponent, who has to catch it against their chest and then thrust it straight back at you and your chest, it doesn’t half strengthen your arms, chest and legs. A good workout for all concerned then.
What else can you do with a leather medicine ball? Well, they are used in many different ways for both training and rehabilitation. Simply lifting one repeatedly over your head (and bending your arms behind your head) is a good strengthening exercise, then you can throw it as well as kneeling and pushing a ball out from your chest as far as you can. They’re also pretty good for sitting on when you get tired in gym class (that’s my own personal experience of medicine balls from many years ago).
Modern Variations to a Medicine Ball
These days modern medicine balls do have some variations. You can get them with handles attached (makes them easier to pick up and maneuver) or alternatively with removable handles which makes them even more versatile. This also makes it possible for you to hold them out away from the body, and the further away the weight is from the body the more it can build up your core strength. Some of them are hollow with a rope attached through the center of the ball, you can really swing them around and build up your muscles (make sure that you’ve got plenty of room though and hold on tight, you don’t want to smash anything do you).