“My new favorite workout!”, “Terrifically fun!” “Effective, efficient workout.”
As evidenced by the above review extracts, acclaimed exercise physiologist and master instructor, Tracie Long, is at it again with the most comprehensive of all medicine ball workouts: Tracie Long’s Focus: Break Through.
Tracie’s scientific approach to training, allows her to capitalize on the benefits of medicine ball training. This 33 minute metabolism boosting workout is a compact, time-efficient program that utilizes a medicine ball for both fat-burning and body-sculpting. The ball increases the overall intensity while adding rotation and balance elements.
The first section alternates pure cardio with core-focused, ball-enhanced toning. The second segment features a medley of layered sculpting exercises (e.g. a simple side lunge transitions into a lateral jump and finishes with a tough “balance lunge” on one leg). The medicine ball workout ends with a challenging floor-work section.
Rather than recycle full length reviews in this post, I’ll provide excerpts from some recent reviews I’ve come across. While I have an opinion about the video (you guessed it- I’m a fan), I am posting both pro and con (not surprisingly, not many were available) excerpts I’ve come across.
• “The moves with the compact medicine ball are unique and constantly varied, making the time fly by. A very efficient workout in that it hits every area in the 30-minutes.”
• “Really tough. Tracie really knows the areas to attack to make you “feel it” the next day. Been a huge fan of hers from the beginning and she is a great instructor. Really happy with this one”
• “My only complaint is the music she uses (that’s why I give it 4 stars, not 5)”
• “I love this workout! Definitely one of my favorites! Makes me sweat and feel good in only 30 minutes… perfect for a busy mom of seven kids that needs the energy and the endorphin release that come from a great workout.”
• “Only major con is the DVD menu which is rather difficult to determine what option is selected.”
• “A great variety of interesting moves, including the medicine ball, balancing, lifting, weaving….lots of fun. I would definitely recommend this video”
• “This is one of the best med ball workouts that I have done. On the ab work I could actually feel my lower abs working. Tracie’s instruction is spot on.”
• “She’s (Tracie) motivating and cues very well.”
Be sure to check out Tracie’s Medicine Ball Workout, and come back here to post your comments about it. I’d love to hear your feedback.
There exists a wealth of benefits associated with medicine ball workouts. With that in mind, it was a bit of a task to consolidate the advanatges into a “top-5 list” of reasons to consider training with medicine balls, but fear not; the list is here…enjoy!
1. Functional Strength
It is one of the most effective tools in training all of the muscle groups in your body, especially your stabilizer muscles; which work together for functional strength. This is an athletic advantage that isolation lifting does not provide. Over time, your body will learn to become more efficient with full body exercises.
2. Combined Cardiovascular and Strength Training
The proper medicine ball workouts will create a more intense, and efficient training session. Medicine ball workouts done properly will allow you to achieve a target heart rate and fatigue your muscles throughout the training session. As a result, you will increase your cardiovascular capacity, build strength, and improve muscle stamina simultaneously.
They key to a good workout is variety. There are 100′s of medicine ball exercises to explore. Since the balls are portable, you can workout at home, beach, outdoors, or on the road. Additionally, exercises can be tailored for specific sports or to target specific muscle groups.
4. Provides Unique Loads on Your Muscles and Increases Hand Eye Coordination
When a medicine ball is thrown to you or by you, the path it travels is never exactly the same. Therefore, you catch it at a different place every time. This fact forces different muscle groups to balance your body and control the ball for each catch. This trains your body to react faster to catch and control the load.
5. Adds Variety and Lets You Revisit Your Youth
In addition to the physical advantages of medicine ball training, there are a few psychological benefits. The use of a new piece of equipment does wonders for reviving a status quo fitness program. Since medicine balls are so versatile, the exercises you can perform with them are limitless. As such, persons of all ages, fitness experience, and fitness goals, can benefit from the use of a medicine ball. Further, medicine balls have a playful quality, which make them fun, and consequently make you feel like a kid again.
Ok, so consolidating to a top-5 list was more difficult than I imagined..such that I had to include a bonus point. This point is not fitness related, but is certainly a consideration for the majority of us. Relatively speaking, medicine balls are a very inexpensive fitness tool. Couple the medicine ball with the proper medicine ball workouts, and you can accomplish the above benefits on a budget; sans the residual gym membership dues.
One measure of effectiveness that cannot be denied is the test of time. Medicine balls, and the benefits of medicine ball workouts, have been around for centuries. The relatively recent resurgence of popularity in the medicine ball makes this fitness tool seem new; when in fact it has existed since the ancient Greeks discovered a therapeutic use for the weighted balls.
What began as a crude sand-filled ball evolved over centuries into the modern medicine ball, which is available in many different forms and weights, constructed of various materials and intended for strength and resistance training in different fitness venues.
Images left by ancient Egyptians portray people using what appear to be weighted, rounded bags. Historians credit Claudius Galen, a Greek physician who lived in A.D. 130 to 200, with prescribing the first therapeutic use of the medicine ball. Based on ancient writings, historians note that the Greek physician Hippocrates used heavily padded balls made of sand-filled animal skins for “medicine” that involved throwing and catching. This ancient “medicine” is the earliest recorded use of the term to describe the weighted balls.
Physician Hieronymous Mercurialis, a Renaissance physician who authored the “Art of Gymnastics” in 1569, promoted the return of ancient Greek-like medical gymnastics. Mercurialis discussed the use of several fitness tools, including the ball. Mercurialis recommended the ball for exercise and play as a tool for healing and illness prefention. The medicine balls of Mercurialis’ time were filled with sand, feathers or air, depending on the use.
18th And 19th Centuries
In the 1800s, Friedrich Froebel, a German educator, introduced a plan for national physical training that included the metaphysical use of medicine balls, one of five gifts for awakening knowledge, to learn about the inner body. Physical trainers in the 1800s used four fitness tools, one of which was the medicine ball used to strengthen the arms, legs and core muscles. The balls were used through the 1930s in YMCAs, military organizations, colleges, boxing gyms and fitness gyms; in a varierty if medicine ball workouts.
20th Century And Hoover-Ball
The use of medicine balls in fitness training regained popularity in the early 1900s, when the ball returned as a subject in scientific training literature. The medicine ball was replaced in the U.S. by weight training, although it continued to be used to simulate body blows in boxing and martial arts. In the 1920s and 1930s, President Herbert Hoover popularized the use of the medicine ball in a fitness game modified by his physician — Hoover Ball, and it became known as Hoover-ball. By the late 1990s, military fitness programs returned to using the medicine ball and medicine ball workouts.
The growing popularity of the medicine is evident in the many kinds available: different shapes, sizes and colors; some are made to bounce or for use in water; and weights range from two to 200 lbs. The balls are covered with polyurethane, rubber or leather and filled with sand, silicone or rubber chips. Increased knowledge of kinetic science and the physiology of muscle building explain some of the new popularity of the medicine ball, and medicine ball workouts.
Medicine Ball Workouts coming soon!