Working out, in general, makes you feel like a badass, most especially when you have your favorite workout playlist blasting in your headphones. But, if you haven’t tried medicine balls and agility ladders, then you don’t know what it feels like to be extra badass.
The serotonin that you feel whenever you slam your medicine balls down on the ground and when you run through the agility madders is just astronomical.
These just aren’t immensely helpful with your strength and cardio training, but they’re also exciting to do! Medicine balls and agility ladders are easy to use. However, the exercises that can be done with this gym equipment can be quite tricky to execute.
Challenging these exercises maybe, they’re nonetheless very helpful and fulfilling. However, before focusing on the exercises itself, you should first properly learn how to use medicine balls and agility ladders to be able to execute a proper and safe method of exercise. Here’s some examples that have been curated from other athletes on the internet.
What is a Medicine Ball?
Whether you’re using your medicine balls for the first time because it’s now becoming a trend or because you just knew about it now, know that these come in a variety of weights and textures. So, better familiarize yourself with the differences.
You would notice that some medicine balls have handles, while some don’t. Others also have the ability to bounce, while some aren’t just built for that. Regardless, you should know how your medicine balls work and how they go with your motion.
Medicine balls are very versatile. They can be used for every exercise and movement, like standing, seating, lying down, and even those that require you to vigorously move.
You might get the impression that medicine balls are heavy because they’re used at the gym; and gym stuff are relatively heavy. However, you can keep your prejudice to yourself because medicine balls are not.
Unlike dumbbells, medicine balls won’t damage and crack your floors once you drop them. Also, they provide a good workout when you throw them back and forth. Plus, it’s a good stress-reliever too!
In general, they are at low risk of injury, so they’re completely safe for all levels of fitness. However, the exercise that you do with the medicine ball is another thing.
How To Use A Medicine Ball?
To begin, you should first check at the weight of your medicine ball. For some, they may prefer a heavier ball to slow the motion. While for beginners, getting a medicine ball that is lighter can also be effective too.
When checking the weight, make sure that it’s so heavy that you can no longer control it and your accuracy and range of motion are evidently affected. Remember that the first thing that you should keep in mind is your safety and those around you.
FOR ABS (Abdominal Muscles)
You can use a medicine ball for your ab workouts. This may be surprising for some, most especially the beginners. But, yup, it is true. You can use this for your abs, most especially when you want to increase the intensity of your ab workouts.
1. Overhead Slam
The overhead slam requires you stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. You may seem like you’re doing a squat, but you’re not—just the initial position of squatting is needed.
With your two hands holding onto the medicine ball, lift your arms over your head (hence the name!). Bend at your hips and make sure that you’re not arching your back as you do this workout.
Slam the ball on the ground directly in front of you. Make sure that your arms are working and your abs are stretched when you raise your arm overhead.
To add intensity to your overhead slam, some people prefer standing on their toes as they elongate their torso with the medicine ball over their heads. And once you slam the ball down, you put feet back flat on the floor.
2. Crunches With Medicine Ball
Doing crunches with a medicine ball is just like your ordinary crunches. But this time, it requires you to have a medicine ball. This will make the level a little bit more intense than doing crunches without it.
So, as usual, you lie on your back with your face up and your legs extended in the air as though it was reaching the ceiling. Make sure that your body is forming an L shape.
Now, I do understand that some cannot straighten their legs when they’re up in the air. Don’t worry though because it’s totally okay if they’re a bit crooked and they’re not that straight.
Hold the ball above your head, extending them. Crunch up, with the medicine ball intact between your hands, and then hold. After a second, you can lower your back down to the starting position.
When you do this workout, make sure that your medicine ball is not heavy. Crunches require you to be in a lying position and a heavy medicine ball can be dangerous if it slips off of your hand.
FOR ARMS AND SHOULDERS
A heavier medicine ball can help you with the intensity level when it comes to doing your arm and shoulder workouts. Think of your medicine ball like a dumbbell—you surely won’t get a super light dumbbell to work for your arms and shoulders, right?
But then again, always make sure that you can handle your medicine ball well because your safety is always your priority. Medicine balls may not be that heavy, but this doesn’t make it less dangerous.
1. Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is one of the easiest medicine ball workouts for your shoulders. This is highly recommended for beginners and also for people with bad knees.
Though this may come off easily, you can always increase the weight of the ball for a more intense and challenging workout. Remember that just because this is easy, that doesn’t mean that this is no longer effective.
As you start with this workout, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your ball between your hands. Raise your arms as though you’re reaching for the ceiling, with the ball still intact between your hands.
Once you put your arms down, make sure that your underarms are tucked in. You can also have your arms open once you put them down to work on your biceps too.
If you have shoulder problems, this may not be the best workout for you. I suggest having a trainer around or someone to guide you as you do this workout.
2. Medicine Ball Fly
For a harder and more challenging workout, you can try this ball fly workout. First, lie face-up on an exercise ball. If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can just use the floor instead.
Make sure that when you’re lying on the exercise ball, your neck and your shoulder blades are resting comfortably on the ball’s center. Your knees must be bent at an angle of 90 degrees.
Make sure that your abs are engaged and keep your balance on the exercise ball, while your hips are raised, and your arms are extended towards the ceiling. The ball must be nested in between your hands.
Shift the ball to your left hand and slowly lower the ball. As you lower the ball with your left hand, make sure that your whole arm is parallel to the floor. So in this case, you can imagine that you are doing an L shape with your right arm still extended upwards.
Do the same step for your right arm. Pass the ball alternatively and you will eventually feel the burn on your arms and also your core.
FOR LEGS AND GLUTES
Just like what I’ve said, medicine balls are versatile. So, it is expected already that you can use your medicine ball for all types of exercises—and that includes your legs and glutes.
1. Medicine Ball Squat
This Medicine Ball Squat will be different from the usual squats that you do. To start, you do a squat with the medicine ball on the floor in front of you.
Second, you grab the medicine ball with your two hands while still in a squat position. As you do this, make sure that you can feel the pressure on your glutes. As you get back up, toss the ball above you.
Don’t toss the ball too hard or you may not be able to catch it. While the ball is up in the air, extend your arms on your sides. Thereafter, catch the ball and go back to the first step.
2. Bridge With Medicine Ball Squeeze
To do the bridge with medicine balls squeeze, first start with your back lying flat on the floor. Your feet must also be flat while your palms are rested flat on the floor as well.
Put the medicine ball in between your knees. Squeeze the ball tight so you can prevent it from falling as you execute this exercise.
Push your feet onto the floor as you lift your pelvis up. Remember not to overarch your spine. As you do this, make sure that you can see your knees. If you do, then you’re executing the workout properly.
Maintain this position. While your pelvis is up, squeeze the ball with your thighs at least 20 times (or depending on the intensity of workout you like) and then return back to the starting position.
Medicine Ball Tips
There are more exercises that can be done using a medicine ball. You can apply the medicine ball for back and chest exercises as well. Remember that this ball is really versatile so it’s only right to maximize its purpose!
Always make sure that the weight of the ball is something you can carry without compromising your form and your accuracy. Remember that your form and safety are always the top priority when working out.
Always check on your proper movement. Medicine balls may look like they’re less dangerous and less intimidating, but they can still trigger and cause some injuries if not used well. So, do thorough research on the workout first before fully engaging!
What is an Agility Ladder?
Agility ladders are not exactly similar nor entirely different than medicine balls. Agility ladders are more on drills rather than equipment incorporated into your workouts.
This is a piece of equipment that can be helpful for your agility drills. This is often used by some sports like mixed martial arts since this helps you with your quick and finesse movement—which is important for their sport.
Don’t be intimated, though. Just because you’re not doing MMA, that doesn’t mean you no longer can use this. I mean…exercising to increase your agility is a good thing too!
This is beneficial for SARQ Training. SARQ stands for speed, agility, reactivity, and quickness. Like what I’ve said earlier, this is the main reason why MMA individuals use this in their training.
This can improve your coordination and body awareness for individuals at all fitness levels. This will help you reduce the risk of falling. Moreover, this will help you too with your mobility, fitness, and power.
How To Use An Agility Ladder?
There are different workouts for your agility ladder. This may not be as versatile as your medicine ball, it is still very helpful in general when it comes to your fitness. To know more about what you can do with your agility ladder, read and learn more from the list of exercises that I found to be helpful.
1. Leg In And Outs
Firstly, step into the first square with your right foot. As you step into the square, shift your weight onto that foot. Your stance may look like you’re about to run with that foot—but not really.
Thereafter, you step the right foot out, step on the ball of your left foot to keep your balance, and move onto the next square. Don’t press your heel onto the ground and only balance yourself with the ball of your foot.
Make sure that your hands are swaying comfortably on your sides as you do the rest of the workout. As you reach the end of the ladder, do it again but this time, make sure that your left foot is now the working foot.
To see how in detail, you can watch through this link:
2. Two Feet in Each Square
Again, start at the end of the ladder. The Two Feet in Each Square workout is easy, so you have to do it quickly for an increased challenge and intensity.
Just like its name, you have to place two feet in each square before moving onto the next square. Remember that you have to step with the balls of your feet so you can move quickly and accurately.
Step in your right foot first, then your left foot into the square. Then, do the same thing for the next square. Take note that you can’t move on to the next square without placing your two feet on the previous square.
As you do this, pick up your knees like you’re doing high knees workout with the ladder. This is a good cardio workout while training your agility and speed.
To see how in detail, you can watch through this link:
Agility Ladder Tips
When doing a single-foot agility drill, always start at the base of the equipment. Make sure that it is properly laid down to prevent any injuries or accidents that may occur during the workout.
Always start slow. Patience is the key when using an agility ladder. You will, later on, get used to the workout, and you will see eventually that you can already pick up your speed and intensity.
A good posture is always a must. Always start with your knees slightly bent and your shoulders relaxed. Trust me, I know that it can be intimidating most especially when you’re doing it in a gym where everyone can see you. But, remember that we always start as beginners.
Medicine balls and agility ladders are incomparable. Hence, I really can’t say which one is better and which one is more beneficial. To sum, medicine balls are helpful when you incorporate them with your usual workouts, while agility ladders provide whole new workout drills and can become an essential part of your gym setup.
These pieces of equipment, nonetheless, are helpful and beneficial in so many ways. So, now that you’ve learned how to use these, make sure that you’re no longer intimidated once you see these at the gym. Also, why not purchase one for your home gym? I mean, they’re extremely exciting and fun, aren’t they?
If you’re looking for more ways to kickstart your fitness, see our post on doing squats with and without weights, properly! And here’s a list of some of the best home gym equipment we’ve reviewed for weight loss as well as workout machines that can be used for weight loss as well. Another great option if you’re looking to pump your HIIT workouts is looking into battle ropes for your home gym.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.