Take your medicineball and call me in the morning

Posted: Updated:

When joining a gym or getting back to a familiar fitness routine, no matter what our fitness knowledge may be, we will always have certain expectations that we’ll want to see happen with our bodies.  Part of my initial fitness assessment when meeting with new members to the gym is to go over all of these expectations YOU expect to see for the time you’re willing to put forth.   Nine times out of ten, most will be looking to shed some unwanted body fat while toning those muscles that have been starting to “droop” over time.  The main target areas for most females will be the butt, thighs and abs.  For the majority of guys, I see common target areas pointing towards upper body muscles and again, the abs.  The primary target area of concern for both parties is the stomach and the muscles that support the core and abs.  Ahead we’ll be looking at some gut wrenching abdominal exercises that’ll have your mid-section screaming but thanking you later!

Always remember that you cannot target body fat reduction
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the physical side of this story, let’s not forget that if your primary goal is to cut down your body fat from the stomach area, or you have a goal of actually SEEING your abs, strengthening the stomach muscles alone will only build more muscle, NOT shed the fat on the surface.  With that said, refer to former articles, “Getting Back to Basics!” and “Nutrition 101!” for nutrition advice that will have you actually seeing those muscles that you’re working so hard to see!

The ability to generate strength and improve tone in our abdominals is a very important component for success in many of our movements in life, i.e., the explosion of functional core training for example.  Medicine ball training, in conjunction with a program of weight training and cardio vascular exercise, can be used to develop strong, tone abdominals.  Certain medicine ball exercises can also be used as part of a plyometric training program to develop explosive movements to encourage power out of the muscles you already have.  Medicine ball training is appropriate to all levels of ability, age, development and sports.  To be most effective the program should contain exercises that match the pattern of movements of the sport or activity.

The following are some key focus points when incorporating medicine ball training into your routine:
• Always perform a thorough warm up and cool down before and after exercise
• Be sure that if you are doing partner medicine ball exercises that both parties know their role
• Medicine ball exercises work best when preceded by high intensity work
• Start sessions with lighter less dynamic exercises, then progress to more advanced exercises
• The program should have exercises that match the pattern of movements of the sport or activity
• Be sure to use the right size and weight medicine ball for the exercises in question
• Always start with a light weight ball and gradually progress to heavier ones
• Check there is sufficient space (including ceiling height) and that the structure of the walls are safe if any rebounding exercises are used
• Maintain good discipline as medicine balls can be dangerous if used incorrectly
• An effective work-out with medicine balls can be achieved in about 30 to 40 minutes paired with the proper intensity
• Quality of movement is more beneficial than quantity of exercise repetitions or sets ALWAYS!

To ensure personal safety and good technique while doing medicine ball exercises the following points should be remembered:
• Complete throws with full extension of the arms
• On standing exercises plant feet firmly before throwing or tossing the ball
• Always use the full joint range in the correct sequence in carrying out each exercise
• Maintain technique - do not sacrifice control for distance
• Never take the ball too far back behind the head when carrying out overhead tosses
• When picking a ball, ensure the knees are bent and the back is kept straight
• When carrying out exercises lying on your back, ensure the lower back always remains in contact with the surface
• Prior to a catch, ensure you:
- keep arms extended
- keep hands together
- keep eyes on the ball
- reach out to meet the ball prior to making contact
- do not attempt to catch balls thrown wildly

An effective workout with medicine balls can be achieved in about 20 to 30 minutes, if when working efficiently.  Carry out two or three sessions per week with a recovery period of 24 to 36 hours between sessions.  Each session should be made up of 6 to 10 exercises while performing 3 to 5 sets of each exercise.  Take a gander below for some tummy tightening, torso twisting, annihilating abdominal workouts! 

Circle Warm-Up
• Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent
• Hold ball with your arms extended directly above the head
• Without bending your elbows, rotate arms counterclockwise
• Do 10 circles, and then reverse direction to clockwise for 10 more

Woodchopper
• Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart
• With arms nearly straight, hold a medicine ball above your head
• Bend forward at the waist and mimic throwing the ball backward between legs
• Reverse movement with the same intensity, and return to the starting position

Standing torso twist
• Stand back to back about 3 feet apart
• Keep your hips facing forward and legs slightly relaxed
• Pass the ball to one another(if w/partner) by only twisting the torso
• 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds rest is ideal    
  
Abdominal curl
• Lie flat on your back
• Knees bent
• Ball is held by the knees
• Draw knees up to the chest
• Return to the starting position
• 2 to 5 sets of 8 repetitions with 30 seconds rest is ideal