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I've been seeing medicine balls at the gym, but I'm not sure how to use them.

Answered by Declan Connelly on Monday, June 1, 2009 at 1:56 PM filed under fitness postings
Using a medicine ball is a good way to add functional resistance to your exercise program in order to develop strength and power. You can use a medicine ball for exercises that simulate the movements in a particular sport—for example, throwing a ball—in a way that you can't with dumbbells or barbells. Think of it: When you use a dumbbell or a barbell, you have to slow the movement at the end of an exercise for safety and practicality. You don't have to slow down when you launch a medicine ball, which means you can throw with maximum force through the entire range of the movement. This is helpful for sports—obviously, you wouldn't slow down before you released a basketball or slow your swing before making contact with a tennis ball. You can use a medicine ball either with a partner (throwing the ball back and forth) or by yourself (throwing the ball in the air and catching it; throwing the ball against a wall; or simply throwing the ball as hard as you can and running after it). You can also hold a medicine ball to add extra resistance during your abs workout. Try these exercises using a five pound ball, adding more weight or reps when they get to be too easy.

1. Do this one with a partner or against a wall: Facing your partner, lock your legs with your partner's and do sit-ups while passing the ball back and forth. During the sit-up, hold the medicine ball above your head (or, if this is too hard, hold it to your chest). Once you're in the upright position, pass the ball to your partner (or, if you're on your own, throw it against the wall and catch it). Do two sets of 10 to start.

2. Stand about 10 feet away from a wall. Throw the medicine ball as hard as you can against the wall, using a chest pass, and catch it. Do two sets of 10 to start. Once this is easy, throw the ball using a two-handed overhead pass.

3. Lie on your back, holding the medicine ball over your chest with your arms bent. Push the medicine ball up into the air and then catch it. Do two sets of 10 to start.