Medicine Ball Exercises

These medicine ball exercises will add a new dimension to your training program in addition to improving your rotational power. Medicine ball exercises tend to be more ballistic than most traditional gym exercises and therefore should be performed with caution and only by advanced trainees. Make sure you're thoroughly warmed up before attempting these exercises. I recommend performing at least 2 sets of each exercise at 60% intensity prior to your work sets.

Twister

The Twister integrates the obliques with the lower torso, and the faster you go the more challenging it becomes. Begin by placing a small medicine ball between your knees. Draw your belly button in and while taking small hops, rotate your knees to each side. The farther you rotate your knees the more you'll be using your obliques. If you can easily perform the hops and rotation, it's time to add the second component. While performing the hops and rotations, slowly descend into a squat and come back up. Remember to keep your belly button drawn inward and stop the exercise as soon as your form begins to break down and/or your speed begins to decrease.

Increasing the intensity of this exercise is accomplished by using a heavier medicine ball, increasing the speed with which you rotate, or both.

Medicine Ball Oblique Toss

These next two exercises are highly effective at developing rotational strength and require the use of a partner, although they can be equally as effective if you have a solid wall nearby. Begin by standing about 3 yards away from your partner (or about 2 yards away from the wall). Bend your knees and draw your belly button inward. Now "wind-up" and toss the ball to your partner. As the ball is returned to you, it's important not to just catch the ball but to decelerate it by rotating to the side away from your partner. This creates a powerful eccentric contraction on the obliques which is in part why this is considered an advanced exercise. Continue repeating this movement for the desired number of repetitions or until your form begins to break down. Perform the same number of repetitions to the other side.

To make this exercise more challenging, you may choose to face the opposite direction as your partner so there's a higher degree of rotation during the exercises. Also, you may increase the size of the medicine ball, toss it harder and faster, or all of the above.

Medicine Ball Half twist and Full twist

The Medicine Ball Half Twist and Full Twist have long been used as a means of improving strength and power, as well as hand-eye coordination. Begin the Half Twist by standing almost back-to-back with your training partner. Draw your belly button in and begin rotating to one side (i.e. your left). Your partner will rotate the opposite direction (i.e. his right) to accept the ball from you. After you hand it off, quickly rotate in the opposite direction and take the ball from him. Continue doing this for a specified number of repetitions and then rotate the opposite direction for the same number of repetitions. Start slowly until you have warmed up thoroughly. The faster you twist the more challenging and intense it becomes.

The Full Twist is the next progression and requires a higher degree of rotation and flexibility than the Half Twist. Begin by standing further apart than you did for the Half Twist–you'll have to have more clearance to pass the ball than with the first exercise. Draw your belly button in as each of you rotate to the right (you'll appear to be rotating in opposite directions). Once you've fully rotated to one side, hand the ball to your partner and quickly rotate to the opposite direction and accept the ball from him. Again, perform this exercise for a specified number of repetitions and then rotate in the opposite direction. Be sure to only perform as many as you can before your form breaks down. As this becomes easy you can increase the weight of the medicine ball, rotate faster, or both.

Introducing the Tornado Ball!

The Tornado Ball is a product I recently helped develop that takes rotational training to a new level of intensity and effectiveness! Consisting of a solid polyurethane OOOF Ball with a length of sailing rope moulded directly into the ball, it's virtually indestructible and is an awesome training tool. Not only will it improve your rotational power, it's fun as hell to bash into walls and on the ground. I don't know, maybe it's a guy thing.

Among the numerous applications of the Tornado Ball, you'll be able to:

Train at virtually any speed from slow to explosively fast

Improve core and extremity stability and strength

Develop force in any direction or combination of directions

Develop movement skill and coordination

Enhance agility and quickness

Achieve full concentric force development

Develop eccentric to concentric force transfer–applicable to most sports.

Don't have one yet? You can purchase one from the C.H.E.K Institute web site and though the $99.95 price tag might dissuade you, they're well worth every penny.

If you don't have access to a Tornado Ball, I've had some customers put a medicine ball in the end of a potato sack or sturdy pillow case and they claim it works great! However, I take no responsibility for any torn pillowcases or flying medicine balls using this method. I'll let you decide which works best for you.

Regardless of whether you purchase a Tornado Ball or make one of your own, here are some dynamic exercises that will further improve your rotational ability and help you develop Tornado-like power!

Tornado Ball Exercises

Wall Chop

In addition to being an incredible exercise for anyone wanting to improve rotational power, this exercise will assist any implement-swinging athlete such as golfers, baseball players and hockey players.

Begin by standing a couple feet from a sturdy wall (once you begin this exercise you'll see why it needs to be sturdy). Bend your knees, draw your belly button inward, and make sure you have a good grip on the rope; you may even want to anchor one end by slinging the rope around the back of one hand and holding on to it with both. Either way, hold on! Once you're into position, start swinging! As you pick up speed and slam the ball into the wall harder and harder, you'll likely have to bend your knees even further to lower your center of gravity. If you don't, the centripetal force of the ball will be enough to pull you forward away from the wall.

Because this is such a ballistic exercise, you don't want to do it for much more than 10 seconds or so–our goal is to target the explosive fast twitch Type IIB fibers. The faster you swing, the more challenging it becomes. You can also swing it at a diagonal or do a multi-directional chop (be careful not to hit a leg!), but I would save this until you've been performing this for a while.

For you competitive types, go out with a few buddies and see who can get more "chops" in during a ten second period. Believe me, you'll be just as winded in 10 seconds doing wall chops as you would sprinting a 100-yard dash. This one is a killer!

Supine Chop

It may not look tough, but this exercise will put you pretty high on the "stud" list and work your abdominals like never before. Additionally, it's perfect for any wrestlers, football players and rugby players who need to improve their ability to throw an opponent while on the ground or that need to get off the ground quickly. Begin by sitting on the ground; I recommend putting a pad or thick towel under you so you don't injure your back or spine on the concrete. Draw your belly button in and begin chopping back and forth to each side of you. The fun part begins when, while chopping back and forth, you slowly begin doing sit-ups. If you can do 8 sit-ups your first time out, you're a bona fide stud. As with the other exercises, the faster you chop, the more intense the exercise becomes.

Kneeling Chop

The final exercise I'll introduce will work most of the flexor chain in ways that few other exercises can. The flexor chain is used during punching, throwing and kicking movements, making this exercise mandatory for anyone participating in sports containing these activities.

During this exercise you'll likely require some type of padding to protect your knees from the ground. Begin by kneeling on the ground with the ball to the right of your feet–you'll be chopping the ball in front of you while alternating sides during the back portion of the chop. With a good grip on the rope and drawing your belly button inward, swing the ball overhead until it bounces on the ground in front of you. Using the momentum of the bounce, swing the ball back overhead but have it bounce to the left of your feet. Bring it back overhead and once again bounce it in front of you. Continue this process for approximately 10 seconds or until your form begins to break down.

These are just a few of the many exercises one can perform using a Tornado Ball – it can also be effectively used for rotator cuff training, stabilization training, or just about any biomotor ability you are interested in improving!

Conclusion

Because of a tornado's tremendous ability to rotate, they rip, tear, shred and annihilate anything that crosses in their path. We too can develop a tornado's devastating power by using more rotational exercises and training in the transverse plane. The more you do this type of rotational training, and do it correctly, the stronger and more powerful you'll be in the gym, as an athlete, and in everyday life. As with any new exercise, especially using a pattern you're not accustomed to training in, start slow and go easy.

Using the exercises, information and equipment contained in this article, you too will eventually develop the strength and power necessary to toss cattle over a barn or jam a blade of grass into a tree. Then again, maybe you just want to be stronger in the gym. It'll do that, too.

To purchase Paul Chek's new Tornado Ball, Tornado Ball Video or a Swiss Ball click on either of the links or visit his web site at www.chekinstitute.com.