Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Medicine Ball Slams!

When I first got serious about training it was all about losing fat. Soon after I'd been consistently hitting the gym, I realized how much I needed those sessions, not just for fat loss but also for stress relief! One by one, the reasons I needed to be there out-weighed the reasons I wanted to skip, and so it became a critical part of my life. For the first quarter of this year I've had a lot of stress, including multiple hospital and rehab visits for my little 81 year old Dad to the illness and loss of our sweet dog Gracie. My primary job is sedentary right now and I've missed multiple workouts and my eating has been sporadic at best. I think it's time for some medicine ball slams!

If you don’t have a medicine ball, I would suggest you add one to your fitness tool kit. You can get the soft-sided balls at Target now for a great price and they frequently run them on sale. Dicks Sporting Goods and Sports Authority also have some, and if you want a really big one I’d go for the Dynamax. We have a 20lb one from Muscle Driver USA.

A soft-sided ball will allow you to do any of the med ball exercises in which you hold the ball in one or both hands. They are easy on the hands and have a non-slip grip. You can do slams on the ground and partner throws. If you want to do throws against a wall and have it bounce back, you want the hard ball. But actually I think if you’re only going to get one to start off with you’d want it to be soft, because you could grab an old basketball or volleyball to do wall slams and other bouncing exercises.

They come in several sizes and an average one to start with is a 6 pounder. If you’ve been exercising a while it might seem light, until you’ve held it in the air during rotation lunges, and then 6 pounds can seem pretty heavy! If you’re new to exercising you could start with a 4 pound ball, but I’m hard pressed to come up with a reason to go lower than that unless you’re going through rehab with a shoulder injury or have been given specific instructions such as post breast cancer surgery. If you are really conditioned, go with an 8 or 10 lb ball knowing you could graduate quickly to 12 and up for certain exercises.

There are a million things you can do with a med ball, but back to the slams. Here it is, very complex, are you ready? You will hold the ball overhead. Don't lock your elbows or your knees. With as much force as you can muster, you will bring your arms down fast and slam the ball into the floor as hard as you possibly can. That’s one rep. Sound too easy or simple? Just try one! Not only is it a great stress release, but it will work your arms, your shoulders, your upper back and core. Play with your form and engage your quads too. You will get your heart rate up. The heavier the ball, the more fun the slam.

Here are some tips on med ball slams:

Incorporate them into your interval training, such as 30 seconds of slams combined with 30 seconds of jump squats.

Do 20 slams for time, and then try to beat your time.

Do slams for a set amount of time, then try to do more slams in that same amount of time.

Brace your abs and use your entire torso to get that ball to the ground with as much force as possible.

Vary your leg positioning, such as stepping forward with one leg and slamming the ball. Switch legs.

Incorporate a wood chop effect. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and slam the ball just above and outside of your left little toe. Do the same on the right.

Grunt or growl really loud when you do them. The more barbaric you sound, the better the stress relief.

Watch out for small animals you call pets.

Do it outside. Concrete is best. You can't get the full effect if it's hitting grass.

Put a picture of someone who bugs you on the ground and try to hit it.

Do some slams in the garage before entering the house when you get home from work.

Use a med ball slam to kill a spider.

Be sure to do them while your neighbor is grilling out or having a party on his deck.

Let me know your favorite exercises to do with a medicine ball!

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