Medicine Ball Training
We also use a lot of Medicine ball training at The Underground Strength Gym. Med balls are used often with my athletes for GPP work, warm-ups as well as power training. You can go to a school on the weekends and throw against the cement wall, throw on a field or parking lot. I suggest throwing med balls from ALL directions Against the Wall:
- Rotational Throw
- Chest Pass (Very close to wall w/ rapid movement or 5-10 ft away from the wall)
- Overhead Throw
- Half Kneeling Against Wall, Rotational & Overhead
- Jump Towards Wall & Throw (Both Rotational & Chest Pass)
On grass or on cement you can jump 1 – 5 reps with the ball, then on the last jump, you throw the ball for max distance.
Some Medicine Ball Training Videos:
I use med balls ranging anywhere from 4 – 20 lbs most of the time, but sometimes we throw heavier sand-filled balls for the chest passes. My preference is the lighter med balls to focus on power and explosion.
Here are a few sample power warm-ups with medicine balls you would do once you’re warmed up and before heavy lifting.
Workout # 1
1A) Wall Ball 3 x 10
1B) Rotational Throw Against Wall 3 x 5 / 5
1C) Slams 3 x 10
Workout # 2
1A) Rapid Chest Pass to Wall 3 x 5
1B) Chest Slam to Floor 3 x 5
1C) Clapping Push Ups 3 x 5
Workout # 3
- 3 Broad Jumps + 1 Chest Pass + Sprint to Ball: Run Ball Back to the starting point: 3 x 3
- Multi-Direction Partner Med Ball Sit-Up x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 (Partner stands on your feet while you hold med ball, partner moves his hand every rep and you perform a sit up with the ball in your hands, touch the ball to your partners hands every rep as he moves his hand every rep)
3A) Lunge Jump w Med Ball 3 x 3 / 3
3B) Med Ball Cross Over Push Ups 3 x 3 / 3
Workout # 4
- Use heavier med ball here, 20-40 lbs depending on strength level of athletes
- Partner Clean & Chest Pass x 10 each
- Partner Back Toss x 10 each (Scoop the ball and aggressively toss behind you for max effort each rep)
The lighter med balls lend themselves to doing high rep training as well, not just low rep power work. With high reps, use a medicine ball weighing anywhere from 4 – 12 lbs. It sounds very light, but the repetitions are high and we are looking for maximal exertion on each rep. Too heavy of a medicine ball will lead to poor form and not enough speed on the throw for the untrained athlete.
Our new athletes use the 4 – 8 lb medicine balls most often.
Another great partner med ball exercise is the lying chest throw. Lay on your back, your partner stands over you, preferably on a bench. Partner A drops the ball to partner B who absorbs the ball to his chest and then launches the ball back up as hard as possible.
This can be done for 5 x 5 or 3 x 3 or 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 all of them being an I Go, You Go style to maximize work and focus.
Out of all the exercises we do, we constantly vary the positions we throw from as well as partner throwing from various angles. I love using the med ball because it teaches the athlete to be explosive. There’s no ‘putting the breaks on’ when you throw an object.
You can add jumps from different angles and combine them with throws. If you’ve ever seen old photos of Physical Culture Gymnasiums or old Physical Education classes, you would see medicine balls and various climbing ladders, bars and ropes. As I always say, the multi-million dollar weight room is not going to be what makes the best athletes. You can become a hammer training out of a garage and backyard/field.
I will also use med ball partner work while jogging with a partner during warm-ups. I have found it to be a great way to get the athletes hyped up and mentally prepped for the workout ahead. I wish I had a cameraman with me at all times because the work I do with our athletes is powerful! This is why I always tell people, what you see on our videos is just scratching the surface. You need to be INSIDE “The Underground Strength Gym” to see how powerful the training is.
Some partner exercises are:
- Both partners Side shuffle while chest passing back & forth
- One partner Jogging Backwards & the other Forwards facing one another, chest pass and overhead pass to each other
- Both partners Jog Forward and lateral toss to one another, then jog backward & lateral toss to one another
- Kneeling Chest Pass + Drop into a push-up. Both partners kneeling, approx. 15-20 ft apart, explosive chest pass to your partner & immediately fall into a push-up and then explode back to upright kneeling position. 10 reps each.
Use your imagination and get creative. You can also do recovery style medicine ball work where you don’t throw explosively. Instead, you’re using the wall and pushing or throwing the ball more rhythmically and getting in higher reps or 15-30 seconds of each exercise. The rhythmic style is great postseason or perhaps during a week of reload and deload easier recovery training.
I remember a conversation I had with Louie Simmons around 2003 and he was telling me about a few high school wrestlers he was training, and they were STRONG. These kids weighed 103 – 112 lbs and were benching 205. Louie said he would do a 5-minute med ball circuit with them. Five minutes non-stop of med ball slams and throws for power endurance.
I remember thinking to myself that the heavier athletes I was training were not benching 205. I paid attention to everything Louie said but I realized at that moment that his wrestlers were benching almost twice their body weight and I had to start raising the standards for the athletes.
When my own kids come to the gym with me, I always encourage them to grab the light medicine ball and just play. I don’t train my kids at their age just yet. I get countless e-mails and phone calls from parents of 7 yr-olds telling me that their child needs more power or that their child knows what it takes to be a Champion. I kid you not, those are the exact words I hear.
I let my kids come in and they think they’re playing when they throw that med ball around, which they are! But, they are also gaining tremendous benefit by coming into my gym and “playing”. They end up climbing rope, climbing across the pull-up bars between the squat racks, throwing med balls from different angles – the youth kids need PLAY, they don’t need some perfect sets and reps and the play is exactly what will get them better.
Depending on where I’ve been location wise with my gym, we also throw small car tires, stones, kettlebells and dumbbells for increased power & GPP work. I’ll go to an empty field for these throws or at 1 of my locations I simply used the tires piled up behind the auto garage next to my gym.
Most football fields (recreation and high school) still use smaller tires for the agility run. I will take an athlete to the field and have them throw the small car tires in under / scoop toss fashion or from a rotational angle (the toss style is done using a keg in the world’s strongest man contest where they toss for height).
They will then walk, jog, or run to the tire and repeat this process for reps, time or until the tire reaches a certain distance on the field. Tires can also be carried one in each hand for a variation of the farmer walk. Do this across a football field or up & down bleachers/stadium stairs. When throwing from angles or with 1 arm, throw equally from both directions so you can strengthen each side of your body equally, the same amount of sets and reps. Partners can do tire tug of war which gets quite intense!
If you’re a Coach, organize challenges for your athletes. Throw medicine balls or tires for distance or relay races with carries of all types. The athletes get hyped up on these races and challenges. I’ve trained Football teams of 70-100 kids at a time, it was insane, but I made it work by breaking them off into groups of 8-10 and training them outdoors.
I used some of my favorite set & rep patterns to keep things simple AND effective.
- Calisthenics: Squat Jumps, Lunge Jumps, Push Ups x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
- Sled Sprints w/ Tire Sleds & Rope Attached x 50 ft (You can use longer distances if you have smaller groups to control rest periods)
- Farmer Walks using Dumbbells and Sandbags x 50 – 75 ft
- Stadium Stair Sprinting, Jumping and Bear Crawling up Stairs
- Small Group Farmer Walk around the track (Every 50 ft a new partner carries)
- Walking Lunges
- Broad Jumps & Frog Jumps
- Sprint Relay Races
- Sandbag Training x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps of Squats, Clean & Press, Shouldering
I trained the entire team on this day, but you can divide the team into groups from freshman, JV, and Varsity. You can have outdoor training, weight room training, speed/sprint training and some calisthenics as well. That’s 3 different sections of training and you can rotate through them as your time allows.
For more information, you will want to review the Underground Strength Coach Certification.