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Medicine balls are old school — like, really old school — and some believe that Hippocrates created them for his patients to help them recover from injury. Today’s medicine balls are made of leather or vinyl and are filled with ballast of differing weights. They also come in reactive and nonreactive versions — some bounce back quickly and others hit the ground and stick.
“Medicine balls help develop explosive power and rotational trunk strength,” Roberts says. “They also train you to absorb and redirect force, improving athletic performance and allowing you to project that power in every plane of motion.”
Technique — Metcon (metabolic conditioning)
This fitness buzzword refers to any sort of workout that improves the efficiency of one of the body’s three main energy systems — phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative. Improving these systems means that you get more out of whatever kind of workout you’re doing, allowing you to recover more quickly and increase workout intensity. Metcons are typically intense and short in duration (20 minutes or less), challenging your cardiovascular capacity and shifting your metabolism into high gear.
Perform three total rounds of the below workout for time. Do your runs at a moderate recovery pace.
20 Chest Passes
20 Triceps Push-Ups
10 Overhead Slams
10 Overhead Walking Lunges (each leg)
5 Chest Passes
5 Rotational Side Throws (each side)
Medicine-Ball Triceps Push-Up
Get into a push-up position with your hands on the medicine ball and your head, hips and heels aligned. Shift your weight forward slightly so your chest is over the ball, then bend your elbows and keep them close to your sides as you lower your chest to touch the ball. Extend your arms forcefully and return to the start.
Medicine-Ball Overhead Walking Lunge
Hold a medicine ball with both hands and extend your arms straight up overhead. Actively press the ball upward to keep it steady as you take a large step forward with one leg, bending both knees deeply to lower toward the floor. When your rear knee touches down lightly, extend both legs and push off your rear foot to take a step forward. Continue, alternating legs.
Medicine-Ball Overhead Slam
Hold a nonreactive medicine ball with both hands in front of you and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. In one movement, quickly lift the ball overhead and rise up onto your toes, then use your entire body to slam the ball down into the floor in front of you as hard as you can. Pick it up and repeat immediately.
Medicine-Ball Chest Pass
Assume a staggered stance in front of a sturdy wall and hold a reactive medicine ball with both hands at chest height. Shift your weight rearward slightly, then quickly shift it forward as you powerfully extend your arms and throw the ball against the wall in front of you. Catch it on the rebound and hinge back to gear up for the next rep. Continue, trying to link reps together as best you can.