Almost 3,000 years ago, Persian wrestlers would take animal bladders, stuff them full of sand and use them in their training. In 1889, Professor Robert Roberts first coined the term “medicine ball” in Scientific American and said, “Playful exercise with it invigorates the body, promotes digestion, and restores and preserves one’s health.“
Over 120 years later, we have dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, machines, bands, and a million other pieces of fitness equipment that the Persians and Roberts probably never could have imagined. If I had to pick just one piece of equipment to use for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be any of them. It would be a medicine ball.
The reason is simple:
The medicine ball is the single most versatile training tool there is. It can be used in an endless amount of ways to improve health, fitness, and performance. It’s the swiss army knife of training equipment
What can medicine balls be used for?
The reason medicine balls are so versatile is that they can be used to add resistance to virtually any type of movement. Although most people think of them as simply meant for throwing walls, that’s just scratching the surface of how they can be used to improve movement quality, coordination, explosive power, and even conditioning.
When used correctly, medicine balls can help you:
- Develop total body coordination and mobility through
- Learn to control your center of mass biomechanics across a range of movements
- Develop rotational mobility and stability in multi-joint movements and improve durability
- Activate the highest threshold muscle fibers through ballistic (throwing) actions
- Promote blood flow, movement, and recovery without a high eccentric load
The real key to using medicine balls in ways that do more than just make you tired is to start by developing the right technique. A lot of medicine ball movements may looks simple, but just like any exercise, performing them correctly takes both technique and practice.
If you want to learn how to get the most out of medicine balls, you have to start with the fundamentals. That’s why I brought Coach Kendall in to teach you the starting point of developing better movement and performance through medicine ball training.
He’s worked with a ton of top level golfers, tennis players, and other athletes. I’ve put his exercises and progressions to use over the years with just about everyone I’ve coached and they flat out work.
They’ve proven to be an extremely valuable tool to help people improve their movement skills in a way that transfers to real-world movements. The best part is all you need is a single medicine ball and a wall or partner.
Low tech. Low cost. Highly effective.
What to do next
Start by incorporating the exercises Coach Kendal covers in the video into your warm-up and progress from there. Just a few minutes of the drills in each workout will go a long way towards helping you build better movement and get more out of this ancient training tool.