Squats With Overhead/Diagonal Movements
In Part 1, we introduced squats with overhead pressing movements. We also talked about cueing your client to rotate to different sides, essentially making a diagonal pattern with the med ball as the movement is executed. Now you can start cueing your client to move faster, and focus more on the deceleration aspect of the movement.
Your client should be able to feel the muscles in the core eccentrically contracting in order to slow down the movement. If you don’t see your client pulling in their abdominal muscles, engaging the core as they stand up in this movement, you may want to get a lighter ball or peel back the intensity and focus on more basic core progressions.
Another way to increase the challenge of this movement for a client who has demonstrated competency and skill, is to throw the med ball to them as they squat down into the movement, and then to catch it from them as they come up into the overhead movement. Cue your client to focus on the deceleration as they catch the ball on the way down.
This movement can also be done with your client in a lunge position.
Single Leg Squats and Catches
If your client can do single leg squats (and we should all be working on these!), you can have them do single leg squats, alternating with medicine ball catches. As they come up from the squat, toss the ball to them. You can cue them to throw it back immediately, or have them hold the ball as they squat to add extra resistance, and throw it back after they stand up.
In the first article we talked about chest presses. Here we progress to overhead throws using the med ball. Your client can start by standing with one leg in front of the other, or a modified lunge position. First hand them the ball so they are familiar with the weight. Have them toss the ball to you. You then toss the ball back to them, aiming for a spot above their head. This movement essentially becomes an eccentric tricep extension each time they catch the ball.
Increase difficulty by having the client stand with the feet next to each other, and by throwing the ball harder. Another great sequence is to alternate this exercise with sets of push ups!
Balance and Stability
The med ball can also be used for balance and stability sequences. When working on unstable surfaces, use the med ball to add external resistance to the movement and/or posture.
Use the above posture to challenge static stability - for example just by just standing in this position for 10 seconds. Alternatively you can sequence this posture with single leg squats - especially difficult on the core board!
Targeting the Core
In the first article on progressions with the med ball, core exercises were shown in the supine, seated and standing position. The following are examples of how you can make those progressions more challenging.
Supine Rotations on Stability Ball
Doing this exercise while on a stability ball as opposed to the floor increases the demand on your client in order to stabilize their body during the movement. Your clients should only attempt this exercise when they have demonstrated that they body weight proficiency on the stability ball. Begin by allowing your clients put their feet further than hip width apart, as this provides a broader base of support and makes the exercise easier. As they improve, have them bring their feet closer together.
Cue your client to maintain a neutral spine, keeping the natural curve in the low back. Also cue them to pull the core muscles in throughout the movement. Start by having them rotate slowly to one side, and then back to neutral and to the other side. To increase difficulty, have your client increase the pace of movement.
Standing Core Rotations
Have your client stand in a ready position, with the knees soft. Toss the ball to them so they catch it in front - and a little to the side - of the body (i.e., to their 2 o’clock position). The client should have to decelerate the ball as they catch it. You can start by tossing the ball gently, and then increase the speed as the client demonstrates the ability to effectively decelerate.
Seated Trunk Rotations
In the first article, we had you sit back to back with your client and do seated trunk rotations. When your client is able to do at least 20 repetitions to each side without losing form, you can start increasing the distance between the two of you.
Your should sit along the same line facing opposite directions, several feet apart. Try to maintain a neutral spine, leaning back a little from the hip. As shown below, the client on the right has just tossed to the trainer on the left, and the trainer decelerates the movement as he rotates.
Many of our clients are weak in the core and adductors. Squeezing a medicine ball between the thighs is an excellent way to address this important combination of muscle groups. This is also a way to address the common imbalance of relatively overdeveloped lateral muscles and underdeveloped medial muscles.
Progress from traditional crunches with the feet on the floor, to holding the legs in the air.
If you want to incorporate some or all of these progressions into your training session, here are a few suggestions:
- Take any of the movements and sequence them into a training session where you are working on the same muscle groups. For example, sequence the squats (either bilateral or unilateral) into a session when you have your client do any other kinds of squats. Or alternate any of the core exercises with traditional abdominal or core exercises you may be using.
- Try doing a circuit of med ball drills, either as a warm up (one circuit) or major component of a training session (multiple circuits).
||powerful squats with ball going over right shoulder
||powerful squats with ball going over left shoulder
||squats to right shoulder as you toss ball to client
||squats to left shoulder as you toss ball to client
||tosses while client stands/squats on left leg
||tosses while client stands/squats on right leg
||overhead throws in staggered position
||seconds of holding single leg position on left leg
||seconds of holding single leg position on right leg
||reps of tosses while client stands and decelerates catch
||reps to each side of supine trunk rotations on stability ball
||reps to each side of tosses: seated trunk rotations
||reps of crunches while squeezing med ball; feet on floor
- Increase number of repetitions of the sequence above or increase speed of movement or increase weight of med ball.
- Have your client stand with feet hip-width apart instead of stagger stance while doing overhead throws.
- Have your client do the crunches with the feet off the floor
- Increase number of repetitions and increase speed of movement and increase weight of med ball.
- Sequence movements such as: combining overhead catches with reverse lunges.
- Sequence holding postures with single leg squats
You may have noticed that in some of the above pictures, the Reebok Core Board is either in the area or actually being used. Click here for an article on training with this piece of equipment.