Throwdown Therapy

There are some exercises that automatically bring a frown to any client’s face (e.g. the plank), but I’ve found one that turns that frown upside down: The medicine ball throwdown. This full-body movement is noisy, fun and cathartic. If something’s bugging you or pissing you off, it’s downright liberating to throw a weighted ball to the floor with all your might and get a loud bounce in return. You might even call it Throwdown Therapy.

To start, you’ll need a medicine ball—a durable piece of equipment that is said to date back to 1000 BC when it appeared in drawings of wrestlers in Persia. Once you’ve gotten the ball and found a secure floor, you’re ready to work everything from the headline muscles (lats, delts, pecs, glutes, etc.) to the supporting cast (tibialis anterior, erector spinae, gastrocnemius, and more).

Begin by holding the medicine ball with both hands directly in front of your face. Your palms should be facing each other with your elbows slightly bent.

Your feet are about hip-distance apart and your knees are also slightly bent. The idea is to throw the ball down to the floor—full speed—without first lifting your arms over your head to generate power. This is accomplished by activating the core and by squatting at the same speed at which the ball is descending.

This explosive action should have you end up in a full squat just as the ball bounces up from the fl oor for you to catch (I’ve found that the vinyl, stu ed variety has an ideal bouncing height.) Once you’ve caught the ball, stand up and reassume the starting position. Repeat for a predetermined number of continuously performed reps.

Basically, if someone took away the ball, you’d look like you were performing a squat while rapidly swinging your arms downward. Of course, the act of throwing a weighted object is what turns the squat into a dynamic, full body, truly fun exercise.

The weight of the ball depends on your personal fi tness level but I’ve seen complete beginners comfortable with using at least a 10- or 12-pound vinyl ball and then quickly increasing to 14-15 pounds.

Advanced Variation: Grab a bouncier medicine ball and perform the throwdown in a side-to-side manner, e.g. twist and throw down to the right side your body, catch the ball on the upswing, and then twist to throw it down on your left.

Final note: The advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems. Please consult a medical or fitness professional.