Medicine ball training has been around since the ancient Greeks discovered health benefits from exercising with weighted balls. It is one of the oldest forms of strength and conditioning used to improve health, explosive power, and speed. Medicine balls are versatile, portable and a fad that lasted the test of time. Several styles and sizes exist – some are made of rubber or leather, some absorb load, and others bounce really high. But how can a weighted sphere be so simple, yet have the potential to be so functional?
Enter Explosive Power Training
Power, in relation to exercise and athletics, is the product of strength and speed or force and velocity. Therefore, the more powerful you are, the more force you can develop quickly. Research has shown us that the ability to generate maximal power typically results in enhanced athletic performance1. The medicine ball serves as an excellent tool that can be used to enhance your power output. The freedom of movement allows for endless variations of exercises that can be tailored to your needs and more importantly, it teaches the body to work as an integrated system, which is key for improving athleticism and sport performance.
The ability to produce maximal power depends on many characteristics that go far beyond the scope of this article; however, your goals when training power should focus on movement coordination and efficiency with the ballistic intent to move the medicine ball as fast as humanly possible despite its weight. Force depends on your ability to recruit what are called high threshold motor units, which are muscle fibers that have the ability to contract very fast and explosively2. This ability is also known as neuromuscular efficiency and is enhanced with explosive medicine ball training.