Health and fitness: Stress-relieving workouts |

Health and fitness: Stress-relieving workouts

You pull out the driveway and spill coffee over you as you head to work. You can’t change clothes because you’re already 15 minutes late with road construction ahead. You want to toss your now empty coffee cup out the window, but that will have to wait.

When clients have days like this, only one thing comes to mind: medicine ball training. Usually when people train with medicine balls, they hold the ball and perform basic exercise like sit or squats, using the ball as weight. This is like driving a sportscar only in first gear — you are not using the equipment to its full potential and you need to speed things up. Throwing, tossing or slamming medicinal balls at high speeds not only can help you de-stress but also improve athletic ability and it is great for conditioning.

There are multiple techniques to use when training with medicine balls. Throwing, tossing and slamming variations are only limited by the individual’s imagination and with the advent of specially designed medicine balls with different sizes, textures and weights, now even more training options are available.

Prioritize medicine-ball training early in your workout. You want to be fresh so the ball moves fast and it also helps ramp up the nervous system for lifting or cardio work later. Here are three examples, the goal being to move the ball as fast as possible with good form.

Medicine ball slams: This begins with the ball held overhead and while keeping a straight back. Slam the ball into the ground using the lat muscles and finishing in a deep squat position. Preventing rounding of the lower back and focus on keeping chest up and back flat. They make balls filled with sand to prevent the ball bouncing back at you, otherwise be prepared for bounce back.

Overhead toss: The start position resembles a “granny shot” in basketball. The ball is held between the legs with the hips back and chest up. Explosively push the hips forward to toss the ball as hard as possible overhead while maintaining a natural spine. This works the lower body and is a similar movement to the kettlebell swing and deadlift. This requires lots of room and may have to be done outside.

Medicine ball with partner: The chest pass exercise is excellent for developing the pushing muscles in the upper body. It also helps strengthen the muscles of the core and lower body. Training with a partner can be fun and add variety to group classes. Hold the ball at chest height standing approximately 6 to 10 feet away from your partner. Throw the ball using a similar motion to a basketball chest pass, the partner should catch and immediately throw the ball back.

If you are unfamiliar with any exercise, seek the advice of fitness professional and as always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program.

Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. Crouse specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Visit for more information.

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