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MASTER CLASS: Medicine ball press gets the whole body involved

by Matt Parrott | September 30, 2019 at 1:31 a.m.
Michael Glenn, a personal trainer and massage therapist, demonstrates the Ground to Press at Little Rock Athletic Club. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

Over the years, I've featured hundreds of exercises that use the medicine ball. It's among the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment available and comes in various sizes, shapes and resistance levels.

One type of medicine ball in particular is fun — the large, light, soft-sided variety.

The big, squishy medicine ball is so much different from the rubberized, heavy variety. Why? For one reason, it's just more fun. Using a lighter, softer ball allows more people to enjoy the benefits of the medicine ball because it's easy to wield.

Most people can pick up a soft, 10-pound ball and it's almost impossible to injure yourself using it.

Another cool aspect of this type of ball is mobility. Because it's soft, it can be tossed in a back seat, tossed around in a park or provide companionship during an outdoor hike. The softness makes it good for exercises where momentum enters the equation. The light resistance level allows the user to move the ball quickly, and the momentum can be slowed (or stopped) easily. Exercises such as medicine ball situps are perfect for this ball, and it's even better if you toss it to a partner or against a wall.

This week's exercise features the soft-sided medicine ball within the context of a warmup activity. Now more than ever, I value a longer and more comprehensive warmup before any type of weight training. At minimum, my warmup sessions include cardiovascular exercise, total-body movements and light stretching.

The Ground to Press exercise falls into the total body movement category of warmup exercises, as it requires the coordination of the legs, core and arms. It's a movement that will increase blood flow to the key muscles of the lower back, hips and shoulders.

1. Select a large, soft-sided medicine ball that's relatively light (10 to 15 pounds).

2. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down and touch the medicine ball to the ground directly between your feet.

3. Just as the medicine ball touches the ground, stand back up and extend the medicine ball overhead.

4. Squat back down and touch the ball to the floor again.

5. Continue this pattern for 20 repetitions for a light warmup exercise.

The Ground to Press is a natural movement for most people, and it's a great way to introduce the soft-sided medicine ball into a workout — even if one has little experience with such balls. I'll even mix in a little toss over my head sometimes, especially if I'm in a good rhythm and having fun with it.

That's the cool part about this ball. Even if it slipped and the thing hit me on the head, I'd escape with a chuckle. Now, let's get rolling! 😉

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 09/30/2019

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