Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to Select the Right Medicine Ball

Medicine balls are fantastic workout tools that have proven their value time and time again. In fact, the use of medicine balls in workouts can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece!

Sure, the availability of medicine balls may have been more limited back then, but tracking down the right medicine ball today can also be a difficult task. Finding the best medicine ball can involve a number of factors, depending on a person’s physical size, as well as their fitness aims.

What are the uses of medicine balls?

Medicine balls can be used in a variety of ways, but a couple of areas are most common. Chiefly, medicine balls are used for power, strength, and endurance training exercises. Medicine balls can be used as a standalone fitness tool, or as part of a wider fitness regime, used in tandem to other strength exercises such as pushups to build overall muscle mass.

Beyond gym sessions and regular workouts, medicine balls can also be used for physiotherapy and other forms of rehabilitation. The diversity of all these uses means a medicine ball is a wonderful addition to any home gym, personal training regimen, or even a lounge room or office.  This is especially so as just like a bicycle or skipping rope can be used for a variety of training options, no matter how a medicine ball is used, it is always a fun piece of equipment to have.

How to choose the right medicine ball?

Medicine balls come in a number of shapes and sizes, and each size can provide different benefits. As a rule, a good fit in a medicine ball will be one that (roughly) fits the diameter of the user’s shoulders. For this reason, someone with narrow shoulders will require a different size of medicine ball compared to someone with broad shoulders.

As well as matching the diameter of the user’s shoulder, a medicine ball should also be properly weighted for the exercise it is used for. While plyometrics exercises will generally employ a smaller and lighter medicine ball, strength training and resistance exercises will require a heavier ball.

To some degree medicine balls can be used interchangeably - so two people with roughly the same shoulder width could use the same medicine ball - but it depends on an individual’s build. There are three main types of human body builds - ectomorph (slim shoulders), mesomorph (regular shoulders), and endomorph (wide shoulders).

The type of build an individual has will inform the type of medicine ball they choose, as an ectomorph build should avoid using a medicine ball that would best suit an endomorph’s build.
The same rule applies vice-versa.

What else is important to know about medicine balls?

It is also important to consider whether a medicine ball will be used with other equipment. For anyone that is engaging in plyometrics workouts - AKA pylos or jump training - a medicine ball is selected that can be used in complement to the pylos steps.  A medicine ball that may be perfectly suitable when used as a standalone tool could be too heavy for pylos and endanger a user or be too small and ineffective in use.

Over time it is completely fine for a user to increase the weight of their medicine ball as their strength and fitness increases, but maintaining a cautious approach to the use of medicine balls is essential. Just like any other weighted workout tool, the extra weight can come with extra risks, so careful use is a must.

Final thoughts

The addition of a medicine ball to regular physical exercise can provide a number of great benefits across the board whether it is for strength building, cardio fitness, or more serious physiotherapy and rehabilitation. While the benefits are numerous, there do remain two key factors that are very important when it comes to using a medicine ball.

First, that a medicine ball is selected that suits the physical size, fitness, and overall goals of its user. Secondly, that a medicine ball is introduced into physical exercise gradually. Like any activity, gradual incorporation is ideal to prevent the risk of injuries due to ‘too much too soon’.

This is a guest blog entry.

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