Circuit Training: Medicine Ball

Hello, and welcome to another edition of The Weekend Warrior. I trust you all have your coffee in your hand, and are ready to dig into your fitness focused virtual newspaper. There is something that is just so pleasurable about those moments when the caffeine is beginning to kick in, and we are casually reading something as our body and mind begin to wake up to the reality of a new day. I hope your day starts and finishes well, and on that note I’m going to tell you exactly how my day started this morning.

Last weekend I told you a bit about how I train with a different focus on weekends. On Monday to Friday I train with my partner @RyanCaicco. Those are five tough days of training that cover a wide variety of exercises. There is a heavy focus on conditioning, so rest is pretty much non – existent. The sheer volume and pace of the training is sometimes an amazing thing to look back on at the end of the week, and try to comprehend how much was accomplished in just five days. It almost makes my weekend training a necessity. The variety is sort of like a recuperative break, even though it isn’t exactly.

I’ve always enjoyed training at a very high volume. I have often been criticized for over-training as well. Would I grow better with a different program that puts a larger emphasis on rest and recuperation? Probably. Would I get bigger muscles if I took a more traditional approach to lifting, than the insanely high volume, seven days a week training regimen I employ? Probably. I may be in the minority, but training is my number one concern. The results are secondary. My philosophy is Love the training, enjoy the results.

I do however, do things like my Weekend Warrior workouts that help to vary the training stimulus, as well as the intensity, so my body doesn’t get bludgeoned every day with the same type of workout. My weekend training takes place at a school nearby that has a track, and a few other things I use, such as goal posts, benches, and stairs. Last weekend I told you about my resistance bands circuit training. This weekend I’m going to share my medicine ball approach to circuit training.

This is a different kind of full body training. I really enjoy full body training days, because in many ways it is less taxing on my muscles because nothing specific is targeted. That doesn’t mean it’s any less work, but it is definitely a great way to work everything all at once. Much like the resistance bands workout, the medicine ball option is similar in that it is a station to station circuit set up around the track, so I have to run between exercises. I always finish with a 60 second jump rope ‘sprint’ as well. I like to keep my training continuous as I believe that I activate more muscle fibers, and force my cardiovascular system to adapt to the constant strain while still supplying oxygen to my always working muscles. Not to mention, I just prefer it that way.

My medicine ball training circuit is similar in its set – up to my resistance band circuit set – up, but less equipment intensive than the four sets of resistance bands I bring for that particular day. I usually just bring two balls of different weights with me, and carry them between stations. It’s a bit heavy to carry them to the track, but it’s  a lot easier than when I have to carry my kettlebells with me (I’ll cover that another day).

An example of one of the circuits I use goes something like this: at station one I’ll use my heaviest medicine ball for prisoner jump squats. Is that the name everyone knows them as? I have no idea, but that’s what I call them. I will likely have this exercise demonstrated in video form when that day mercifully arrives to rescue my tired fingers, but this is how to do them: I stand in a squat position with a medicine ball pinned behind my neck. I pull my elbows back, so that I look like a prisoner with their hands behind their head – hence the name I use for this. I then squat down and jump as high as I can. When I land I drop back into a squat and jump back up again, for a decently high number of repetitions – 20 plus, usually.

After the squats I run to the next med ball station (a quarter of the way around the track), carrying the ball with me, as I use one weight for two exercises, then another for the remaining two. By doing it this way the position of the stations keeps shifting, but that is of little importance. The next exercise will be a burpee pushup to a standing overhead throw. To do this I drop into a pushup with my hands on the ball, then jump back up. When I’m standing I throw the ball straight up in the air, as high as I can. I do this like a push press to get a lot of power generated from my legs. I then catch it and drop back down into another burpee pushup. This is another great full body exercise.

I then leave the heavier of the two balls – this will become station one on my next trip around the track- and I head for the lighter of the two medicine balls. This time I grab the ball and frog jump my way until I get to the next station. Basically, I drop into a wide stance squat with the medicine ball between my legs. then raise it to shoulder height while jumping forward. I think of this exercise as the ball leading me, and I just follow it. It’s another very good full body exercise and core builder as well.

As I have hopped the ball to the final station, I begin the final exercise. The last exercise will be reverse lunges while holding the the medicine ball overhead. I like this exercise a lot, as I feel I can get the leg that is planted perfectly perpendicular to the ground when stepping back. I prefer this exercise to a forward lunge for this reason, but that’s just me. Forward lunges have their own value, regardless of what you may have heard.

I finish this circuit off with a 60 second skip. The only challenge that this circuit presents apart from the physical nature of the exercises, is the fact that the stations move, and therefore the jump rope must move with the lighter of the two balls each time through. Not a big deal, as I just tuck the handles in my waist band of my shorts, and frog hop to the next station. I do this circuit usually three to six times, depending on if I’m doing another circuit after.

I sometimes just do this a few times through, and then run the track for a while, after which I call it a day. This is where I build rest and recovery into my seven day a week training schedule. I don’t necessarily punish myself for hours at a time. The circuit training may only last for 20 minutes, followed by a 2o minute light jog. If I’m feeling fresh then I’ll likely do a lot more. I gauge how I feel, and train both weekend days accordingly. This is my method of avoiding over-training. It may not be a scheduled one as most follow, but I know my body, and furthermore I have learned how to listen to what it’s telling me.

Tomorrow is a new day however, and with that brings another page or three from the Super Food Cookbook of Mrs Toronto. I know she has some very unique, and exciting recipes ready to serve you this week. What she has prepared will come as a welcome surprise to the low carb lifer, as these recipes will make you feel like you’re breaking the rules – even though you aren’t. The protocol for tomorrow remains the same; slowly wake up, and brew coffee. When it is ready, pour into a large mug, and join us here to start your day! I look forward to it my friends,

Happy Lifting!

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2 comments for “Circuit Training: Medicine Ball

  1. Anonymous
    August 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Cool man, I know what I am doing this morning. Thanks bro!

    • August 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Thank you for commenting, it’s always flattering and never gets old! The circuit is a great one. Hits everything, lots of legs, but not in the same way as a leg day training session. I think of this as recovery training to be honest, but with great benefits as well.

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