As a savvy reader of Men’s Fitness, you recognize the importance of adding a component of power to your training programs. Simply defined, power is the ability to express force over time (or, more simply stated, the ability to complete a weighted movement rapidly). Unfortunately, power is the strength quality that we lose the fastest when we don’t train it (some estimate that we begin to lose power in as little as three days), and has the steepest decline as we age.
Bottom line: If explosive power is not part of you current training program, it should be.
The most popular power exercises are the Olympic lifts. The snatch, the clean, and the jerk all involve moving the barbell quickly in order to generate enough force to eventually get the bar overhead. Problem is, the O-lifts are the most technically complex movements in the gym. Further, they do not allow a full expression of movement as you must hold on for the entire movement requiring you to decelerate the bar. This is very different from athletic movements out on the field or court that allow you to release the implement at the end range of motion (think a baseball pitch, a jump shot, a discuss throw, or a strongman’s keg toss).
Enter the med ball
With a very low learning curve and the ability for a full expression of movement, the medicine ball is the perfect tool to utilize when adding power to your program. Whether you’ve never used them before or you’re stuck in the rut of simple med ball slams and chest tosses, here are three med ball moves to add maximum power to your program. All of these movements can be completed with a partner as in the videos or against a pad or wall.
Note: These movements are designed to be completed with explosive speed. We recommend using a relatively light (4-6lb) Dynamax Medicine Ball for optimal effect.
Movement 1: The situp throw When using a partner (called the receiver) always start with the ball in his hands. The thrower starts by lying on the ground with his trunk flexed. The receiver passes the ball to the thrower who lowers his body eccentrically, tapping the ball to the ground overhead with elbows bent. He then reverses motion, crunching up and explosively throwing the ball back to the receiver. The thrower completes the motion with full follow-through of his arms before getting in position to receive the ball for the next rep.
Movement 2: The log toss Begin with a shoulder-width stance and lower the ball to the floor by flexing at the knees and hip. Extend at the hip, knee, and ankle joints while simultaneously lifting the medicine ball and throwing it vertically (either to a partner or into an appropriate wall). Be sure to fully extend at all the joints, and finish with a complete follow through with your arms. This movement will help develop your vertical leap, and has similar motion to the squat, deadlift, and power snatch.
Movement 3: Washing machines Stand with your back to your partner (the catcher) or an appropriate wall. Maintain a strong base and initiate the movement toward the catcher by rotating your hips. Receive the ball and explosively rotate to the opposite side and release the ball toward the catcher’s chest. The catcher immediately puts the ball back into the thrower’s hands, and the thrower rotates to the opposite direction.
Building your program
These med ball moves can be put in the beginning of your workouts to maximize power development.
- Try 3 sets of 5 repetitions of each movement with 60 seconds rest between sets before moving on to the strength phase of your workout. You can also use them as a metabolic ‘finisher’ by completing 12 reps of each movement (so 12 reps of situp throw followed by 12 reps of log toss followed by 12 reps of washing machines) before resting for 60 seconds.
- Repeat twice more for a total of 3 sets.
By training with maximum velocity and a minimal learning curve, medicine ball training may be your best bet when it comes to training for power. Plus, med balls are a lot of fun. Get them into your program and get some serious results.