Do you find yourself sometimes in a rush and in need of a quick effective full body workout?
Does your workout ever fall victim to a crowded gym full of bros hogging all the equipment?
Do you need a go-to workout at home for days you can’t make it to the gym?
Whatever the reason, sometimes it’s necessary to have a simple ace in the hole that you can utilize at the right time.
Of course, my loyal Muscle & Strength people, you had better believe that Coach Myers has your back. It was with any of the above scenarios in mind that I created the “Simple Equipment Series”.
Just like the name implies, the premise is simple - an entire workout using just one piece of equipment.
To kick things off, we are going to start with one of the unsung heroes of the weight room: The Medicine Ball.
Pros of the medicine ball
See that bowling ball shaped thing over in the corner of the gym collecting dust? It is one of the simplest, most versatile, and oldest pieces of strength equipment available.
Yes, hundreds of years before mankind had the luxury of plate loaded machines and programmable ergometers, medicine balls were used for exercise, functional strength, and as the name suggests, curing the disease known as laziness. So why have these fitness relics not gone the way of the dinosaur?
Versatility: Med Balls can be utilized in just about any exercise, and come in a variety of weights from 10-100+ lbs.
Functional: Med Balls can be used to closely mimic a real world movement - such as picking up and carrying a bag of mulch - because you must squeeze them with your hands and forearms. There is no “handle”.
Convenient: Grab an all-purpose size, anywhere from 30-50lbs, and you can complete a full body workout anywhere - the beach, your apartment, or in the corner of a crowded gym.
So now that you are sold on the virtues of the medicine ball, you need to learn how to use one. To start off the Simple Equipment Series I have put together 2 of my favorite medicine ball workouts. These routines are different in structure, yet both contain elements of strength training, conditioning, and functional full body movements. Most important, each one only requires a single piece of equipment.
The following medicine ball workout is great for building full body strength and raising your level of conditioning. It can be done with or without a partner, is safe for athletes of all ages, and best of all it can be done anywhere. This routine is perfect for the gym, the back yard, or your garage.
Something to keep in mind: pick a weighted ball that the athlete is able to move fast and explosively with while keeping a strong pace and maintaining good form/position. If the dynamic movements like the suplex are more like a 'slow lift and dump over the shoulder' then the medicine ball is too heavy. I typically use a 40-50lb med ball, youth athletes will need to go much lighter.
|1a. Slam & Chest Pass||5||10|
|1b. Overhead Throw & High Pass||5||10|
|1d. Front Raise||5||10|
|1e. Side Passes (both sides)||5||10|
|1g. Head Circles (both directions)||5||10|
|1h. Front Squats||5||10|
Note: This workout is ideal to do with a partner. If you are training solo, on the first 2 exercises you will pass the medicine ball to an invisible partner, walk over, pick it up then go again. The next 6 exercises are done in an "I go/you go" tempo, you can rest briefly (20 seconds or so) in between exercises, or better yet just burn through the entire routine, resting only in between rounds.
For advanced athletes, perform the workout as prescribed, but rather than resting between rounds, jog or jump rope for 3 minutes then start your next round.
Slam & Chest Pass: Start by picking the medicine ball up from a squat position. Extend overhead and then slam to the ground, while dropping your hips and flexing your abs, pick up then pass at chest height to your partner. When catching the ball be sure to allow your legs to flex and absorb some of the shock. 10 reps each of this combo.
Overhead throw & High Pass: Throw the medicine ball up in the air (think of a volleyball player "setting"), catching it twice, then throw it in as high of an arc as possible to your partner. 10 each
Related: Metabolic Med-Ball Core Training
Suplex: Start in a squat position, pick the ball up and in one motion throw the ball behind you, extending through the hips and coming up on to your toes. 10 reps.
Front Raise: Raise the ball in front of you, keeping the elbows locked. Don't 'curl' the ball up. Lower to starting position slowly, keeping your low back in good position and core tight.
Side Passes: Start with the ball at chest height, rotate your body to one side and extend your arms. Pull the ball back in and immediately rotate the other direction. 10 to each side.
Arches: Start with your arms in front of you and rotate the ball in a circular motion to the side, up in front of your face and down to the other side. Repeat in the opposite direction. Very important to keep your abs tight and resist letting your hips rotate with the ball (this is known as an "anti-rotational" movement). 10 each direction.
Head Circles: Pass the ball in a circular motion around your head and in front of your face. 10 each direction.
Front Squats: Hold the ball right below your chin and squat to parallel. Keep a good arch in your low back and your elbows up.
|1a. Front Squat||3||15|
|1b. GSP Pushup||3||6-8 each|
|2a. Overhead Lunge||3||10 each|
|2b. Drop Down Plyo Pushup||3||10-20|
|3a. Lunge Twists||3||10 each|
|3b. Narrow Pushups||3||max reps|
|4a. Med Ball Rollout||3||8|
|4b. Single Leg BW Hamstring Curl||3||5 each|
Where workout #1 focused more on conditioning, this medicine ball routine is more strength based (don’t worry it will still leave you out of breath and a sweaty mess). On the first superset begin with 15 Front Squats, holding the med ball at chest height with your elbows as high as possible.
To perform GSP pushups, start with one hand on the med ball and the other on the ground. Sink down then explode up and over, catching yourself on the med ball with the opposite hand. If the plyometric push up is two difficult, then “walk” your hands up and over to the opposite side.
Next up is a set of lunges where you will hold the med ball over head, superset this with another plyo push up variation.
For this style of push up, start with your hands in a diamond position on the med ball. Immediately drop down as your hands go wide onto the floor, then spring back up to the starting position as soon as your chest hits the med ball. The key is controlling your decent and exploding up as fast as possible.
The third superset is another lunge variation paired with a traditional med ball push up. Start by holding the med ball at chest height and step out into the first lunge. Pause at the bottom position and rotate your torso away from your front leg. Rotate back and then step up, completing the lunge, then repeat on the opposite side.
After finishing 10 lunge twists in each direction, place both hands in a diamond position on the med ball and do as many reps as possible.
The last superset starts with one of my favorite core exercises, the med ball rollout. The roll out is very similar to the ab wheel, with the difference being the med ball just doesn’t roll back in like the wheel - you have to fight it back to the starting position.
After completing 8 roll outs, transition onto your back for a single leg hamstring curl. Place one foot on the med ball and pull it towards your hips as you curl your hamstring and raise your hips off the ground. Complete 5 reps before switching to the other leg.