It's how you use it
A medicine ball should not be used instead of free weights if you decide to include it in your training. You may be able to dead-lift 150 pounds, but a med ball is not just lifted and put back down. Its weight is combined with deliberate motion and explosive movement. This is why it can be advantageous to add a 6- or 8-pound med ball to your toolbox.
This may not sound like much weight, but used properly and with velocity, it can effectively work many muscles and provide you with some unbelievable results. The types of plyometric exercise in which med balls are used target fast-twitch muscle fiber, promoting speed, power and mobility.
I heart med balls
Versatile in their original form, med balls now come in more sizes and textures -- and some even bounce. Because med ball movements are explosive (for example, extending the med ball overhead and slamming it to the floor), it's easy to see it strengthens muscles and joints. But this type of activity is also cardiovascular. Ask anyone who has spent 30 seconds pushing and catching an 8-pounder into a wall from their chest, and they'll attest to the intensity that can be achieved.
Med ball exercises
Some common movements you can do with this weighted ball are ball slams, windmills, cross chops, figure eights and rotational crunches. Check with a fitness trainer for proper form and execution of these and any other med ball exercises. Technique is integral and should not be underestimated if you want achieve great results and avoid injury.
Cindy Boggs, wellness presenter and author, is an ACE-certified instructor/trainer. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to cindys...@aol.com. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her website, www.cindysays.com.