1. Throw from the floor
One of the simplest movements you can do with a medicine ball is also the most effective. “Lie on your back and throw the ball upwards, keeping your arms extended until you catch it,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “Do three sets of five explosive reps.”
Why do it? If you do this after you warm up but before you bench, it’ll ensure all your high-threshold motor units are firing, making your bench pressing more efficient – and also more effective at building muscle.
2. Turn on the spot
Working your core’s rotational muscles isn’t easy, but it’s necessary – you’ll use them in everything from throwing punches to passing a rugby ball. “Stand near a wall and fire the ball into it with either a side throw or a one-handed movement,” says Wakefield.
Why do it? You’ll engage your obliques, serratus and transverse abdominis, which means you’re recruiting often-unused muscle fibres via the explosive movement.
3. Be a toss leader
You’ve seen the World’s Strongest Man keg toss, right? If not, YouTube it, then thank your lucky stars you’re throwing a ball overhead rather than a metal barrel. “Do three sets of six, and keep every rep explosive and sharp,” says Wakefield.
Why do it? Most explosive hip movements force you to decelerate at the top – even the kettlebell swing and Olympic lifts. This lets you explode fully, so you’ll build power with zero slowdown.
4. Get up, get down
If sport-specific conditioning is the aim, mimicking the chaotic conditions of a match is key. You’ll need to push through this one: start a stopwatch and take the ball from ground to overhead 30 times, doing five burpees every minute.
Why do it? “My favourite med ball conditioning workout – I’ve done it with a 50kg ball wearing a 10kg vest in 6min 25sec,” says Wakefield. “Use a ball that you’ll struggle to do ten reps in a minute with.”
5. Push and slam
“This one looks simple on paper, but it’ll blow your upper body up,” says Wakefield. “Do 21 reps of press-ups and ball slams, then 15 of each, then nine, 15 and 21 again. Extend every rep fully at the top and aim to finish in under eight minutes.”
Why do it? By (hopefully) never hitting muscular failure, you’ll be able to push through this at speed, bringing in opposing muscle groups and pushing your conditioning to the limit. It’ll also guarantee quite the pump.
6. Unleash the bastard
Not the sadistic PT within – a bastard is a burpee with a strict press-up at the bottom. “The bastard cousin is the opposite movement,” says trainer Michael Blevins. “It’s a rolling deck squat where you go from your back to a standing position, then into a slam.”
Why do it? You’ll challenge your balance and proprioception (your body’s positional sense) as well as your conditioning. Also, all those deck squats will help your hip mobility.