In sports performance training, medicine balls are one of the most useful tools to build upper body explosive power. This is for good reason, as medicine balls allow you to increase power in basic functional and sport specific movement patterns.
While medicine balls are a perfect fit for sports performance programs, our adult fitness clients can also benefit from this power development. Power production is one of the first movement qualities that adults start to lose with age.
Throwing a medicine ball helps our central nervous system build coordination and proprioception while teaching our muscle fibers how to stretch and contract quickly and powerfully. We must stretch and contract our muscle tissue to build and maintain power. The faster you can move a weight the better.
The Science Behind Medicine Ball Drills
Power comes back to force production. In order to increase your force production you must either be able to move a certain weight fast, or keep the same speed and increase the weight.
By definition power is work divided by time. To build sport specific velocity, an athlete must continue to build strength and power. The stronger the athlete, the more mass they will be able to move. The more power the athlete has, the more speed they will be able to produce.
To be explosive you must move fast!
Therefore, your goal in medicine ball training should be to move the ball as fast as possible.
3 Medicine Ball Drills to Build Upper Body Explosive Power
Similar to strength training, you must build a foundation and then build upon it. The same goes for medicine ball work. Here are three medicine ball drills we commonly use at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance. Regardless of the sport or activity, everyone can benefit from these three medicine ball drills to build upper body pushing, pulling, and trunk rotational power.
Medicine Ball Chest Pass
The chest pass is a great fundamental throw to teach an athlete to push and catch a weight with great speed. Controlling the ball is the most important factor. To produce a lot of power, you must be able to handle a greater amount of work, keep a good base with the ground (minimal movement in the hips), while explosively throwing the ball off the wall. Stand with your arms extended two inches from the wall. Maintaining a lower-body athletic position while bringing the ball all the way back to the chest. Extend the arms completely as you release the ball into the wall. Catch the ball with your arms extended and repeat explosively.
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Medicine Ball Slam
The medicine ball slam builds explosive upper-body pulling. Many athletes need explosive latissimus muscles to control the stress of throwing a fastball or for a good volleyball serve. Stand with your feet in an athletic position. Reach as high as you can over-head. Make sure to not bring the ball behind your head. Slam the ball, pull your elbows to the ground and catch the ball low. Bring the ball up over-head as fast as possible and repeat explosively
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Medicine Ball Trunk Rotational Throw
The trunk rotational throw is probably the most important throw for our rotational athletes. The trunk is the bridge between the lower body and the upper body. To build explosiveness in our trunk, you need to maintain a stable lumbar spine and rotate with your thoracic spine. The purpose of our core is to stabilize the spine and create the potential energy needed to produce more force production.
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Try integrating these three medicine ball drills into your next few programs in addition to your strength work. These basic medicine ball drills are a great way to build upper body explosive power.