Using medicine balls to get ready for obstacle course races
If you are preparing for an obstacle course race or a mud run, you will definitely need to do more than just cardio. While running long and hard serves its purpose, you need to be aware that there is a lot more that goes into preparing for an obstacle course race. Regardless of your current fitness level, you will always benefit from new and exciting exercises. Medicine ball exercises are a surefire way to add variety and excitement to your fitness routine. Stop relying on machines to get race-ready and use this training cycle as an opportunity to become a machine yourself.
If you are looking to take your obstacle course training routine to the next level, try the following medicine ball exercises:
1. Rolling Medicine Ball Push-Up
For beginners, start out by doing the pushups on your knees. To perform the move, get into the high plank position with a medicine ball under one hand. Slowly lower yourself until your chest is close to touching the ground like you would when performing a regular push-up. Then, return to the high plank position and roll the medicine ball so that it ends up under your other hand. Then, repeat the move.
To start, try to do 3 sets of 10 rolling medicine ball push-ups on your knees. Once you are comfortable with the move, try to do the push-ups on your feet. Ideally, you want to aim for 3 sets of 8-10 rolling medicine ball push-ups on your feet if you are intermediate. The advanced folks should do 3 sets of 15-20 rolling medicine ball push-ups on their feet.
2. Weighted Superman
In order to excel during obstacle course races, it’s important to have a strong back and core. The weighted superman is a simple yet effective exercise that will help strengthen your upper and lower back as well as your glutes and hamstrings. To perform a superman, lie face down on a mat with your arms straight in front of you. Hold a medicine ball in your hands. Engage the back muscles as you lift your arms and legs as high as possible.
Beginners should use a lighter medicine ball (4 lbs) and aim to do 3 sets of 10. Intermediates can use a 6-8 lb medicine ball while aiming to do 3 sets of 10. The advanced exercisers should try to use an 8-10 lb medicine ball and also aim for 3 sets of 10-15.
3. Wall Ball
The wall ball is a great exercise because it works many muscle groups at once. In addition to challenging your cardiovascular system, the wall ball works your shoulders, arms, core, hamstrings, glutes and quads. To perform a wall ball, beginners should use a 6-8 lb medicine ball. Intermediates should use a 10-12 lb medicine ball. Advanced exercisers should be able to use a 14-20 lb medicine ball. The number of repetitions and the number of sets varies based on your fitness level and the weight of the ball you choose.
To perform a wall ball, hold the chosen medicine ball close to your chest while facing a wall. Keep your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Then, descend into a squat position while maintaining control of the medicine ball. Your squat should be low enough to feel your quads and glutes, but not so low that you feel pain the knees. Once you get to the lowest point in your squat, explosively get back up as you throw the ball up at the wall. Once the ball hits the wall, catch it on the way down. After you catch the ball, perform the same movement again until you reach your goal number of repetitions.
4. Medicine Ball V-Up
Even without a medicine ball, the v-up is a very challenging core exercise. If you are a beginner, you may want to start with a different core exercise, such as the crunch, and work your way up to the v-up.
To perform a medicine ball v-up, hold a medicine ball in your hands and lay down on the mat with your legs fully extended. Engage your core and lift both your arms and legs simultaneously so that your body creates a “V” shape. Then, slowly return to the original position. Once you are comfortable with the move, you can make it more challenging. In order to make the medicine ball v-up more challenging, once your arms and legs are at the top of the “V”, hold that position for a few seconds before returning to the bottom of the repetition. If you are very advanced, you can pass the medicine ball from your hands to your feet while keeping your core flexed.
Beginners who struggle engaging the core should start with the crunch and then do the v-up once they feel confident they can engage the core. If you are already doing v-ups, then you can use a light medicine ball (between 4-6 lbs) to add difficulty to your workout. As you get more advanced, you can focus on doing more repetitions in addition to increasing the weight of the medicine ball you use as you progress.
5. Medicine ball crunch
If you found the v-up a bit too difficult, the crunch is another great core exercise for you to try. In order to do a crunch, first, lie down with your back on the mat. Then, lift up your legs so that they are approximately perpendicular to the ground. Hold a medicine ball in your hands over your head. Engage your core and strive to lift the medicine ball to your ankles. Touch your ankles with the medicine ball and then return to the starting position.
Beginners should use a lighter medicine ball (about 4-6 lbs) and aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. As you begin to progress, you can increase the number of repetitions before you increase the weight of the medicine ball that you are using. You can increase the weight of the medicine ball once you are comfortable with 3 sets of 20 repetitions. Once you increase the weight, you can drop back down to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Then, slowly increase the number of repetitions you perform before increasing the weight of the medicine ball again.
As we can see, medicine ball exercises are challenging and fun. Using a medicine ball can help you work a variety of muscle groups without having to use machines. You will become functionally stronger which will enable you to succeed in your obstacle course race.