The Medicine Ball

What's Different About These Medicine Ball Exercises

As you can see in part II of the strength training exercises, the medicine ball is an extremely useful piece of equipment.

And these exercises differ from heavy weight exercises

It's a functional resistance training which relies on your body accelerating or decelerating the mass of the ball by throwing or catching of it. Traditionally, in a fitness studio one uses heavier weights but in a more controlled manner.

Medicine ball exercises promote your ability to control the impact and launch phase of your running stride.

Most of the exercises presented in this section also promote the strengthening of the knees, quadrizeps, ankles and upper arms. Just recently I found out that many runners feel a lack of strength in their arms and shoulders during longer runs at fast pace.

The tiredness that occurs in the legs after muscle glycogen stores are depleted is a normal side-effect when you're running at a faster pace exceeding ninety minutes and longer.

Yiannis Kouros, the famous Greek ultrarunner, is known for his great and super-efficient running style. He puts a lot of effort into his arm rotation when his legs tire as this helps him focus on his technique to maintainhis posture.

So strengthening the main muscle groups used during running is an all-body exercise and a heavy ball is definitely an useful tool. If you're travelling a lot you might find that most hotels and guest houses will have a fitness room with at least one or two balls available. And it takes only 10-15 minutes per session reaping positive long-term effects on your core strength.

One word of caution: Due to its explosive nature make sure to be well warmed up before doing any of the exercises presented here. I tend to do them straight after a run.

There is no science as to which ball is right for you. A consideration is to get one that's made of rubber which can be inflated. This makes it more versatile especially when you're doing the exercises by yourself.

I use one weighing 6 kgs. It felt a little heavy when I first started doing the exercise routines. After about two weeks I got used to the weight and have felt a great improvement in my strength since then. After initially feeling stronger it's a gradual process of improvement that'll be worth your while.

As usual, patience and consistency are the key!

I recommend doing the following exercises 2-3 per week during your high season of ultrarunning and 4-5 times during the winter and early spring months.

Place the ball on the floor and position yourself on one side. The knees are slightly bent while keeping the arms behind your back. Jump sideways onto the other side.

The inner leg is not touching the floor. Jump back to the other side and make sure that your upper body is leaning forward. This seemingly harmless exercise is kicking and will make your legs hurt if you're new to this e-cise.

Start with 10 jumps on each side and step up to 2 sets of 20 reps. Ideally, do this medicine ball e-cise after your run and never directly before a long or hard run. Stand tall and hold the medicine ball chest height and thumbs down. Stay 4-5 feet away from a (concrete) wall and throw powerfully against the side of a rooftop or against the wall.

Catch the ball without letting it drop and tensen shoulder and back muscles during the catching phase. Knees can be slightly bent when you catch the ball.

Repeat 20-30 times.

Find a concrete wall and stand 10 feet away. Put the ball in the right hand, bent the arm and powerfully throw the ball against the wall in a more or less straight line

Repeat 20-40 times and alternate sides.

This exercise focuses on strengthening the hip flexor, shoulders, arms and abdomen.

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