The question: My gym has medicine balls but I am not sure how to use them. Any suggestions?
The answer: Tons! Medicine balls are extremely versatile.
The most basic use for a medicine ball is as a replacement for dumbbells. Instead of holding dumbbells as you do exercises like squats or lunges, hold the medicine ball. They also make traditional exercises more dynamic by adding a reactive element to the exercise.
There are fantastic partner-based medicine-ball exercises. They're my favourite because they're fun and add a friendly competitive edge to training.
Try the plank medicine-ball roll: Both partners start in a plank position, on hands and toes. Face away from each other, feet touching. Partner A has the medicine ball under their right hand, then rolls the ball under both partners so that partner B has to stop the medicine ball with their hand. Partner B then rolls the ball back to partner A. Keep the hips still and continue to roll the ball back and forth for 20 to 60 seconds.
Don't worry: You can also fly solo at the gym with a medicine ball. Try playing catch with yourself while holding a V-sit: Hold a medicine ball at your chest, sit on a mat and lean back 10 degrees. Hold your back flat, with your abs engaged. Throw and catch the ball 10 to 20 times. To make it harder, lift one or both legs, or hold a heavier medicine ball.
The medicine ball can also be used to create a more unstable environment for floor exercises like push-ups and planks. Try doing a push-up with one hand on the medicine ball and one hand on the floor. Or try a plank with both hands on one medicine ball.
Trainer's tip: Other great partner exercises are the V-sit partner toss and standing single-leg toss.
V-sit partner toss: Face your partner in the V-sit position outlined above and toss the ball back and forth.
Standing single-leg toss: Stand on one leg facing your partner and throw the medicine ball back and forth.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
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