Workouts: Lunge with Medicine Ball

Today we are going to explore a proprioceptively challenging exercise — a lunge with a medicine ball rotation. For this particular workout you will need a weighted medicine ball. We will be combining two relatively simple exercises but when put together, the contrasting movements create instability — the key to core training.

You are going to start by standing upright with your feet a few inches apart, holding the medicine ball just out in front of your belly button. From here you will step forward with one foot and bend both knees to 90 degrees (the back knee will be bending down toward the ground but stopping just before you hit the ground). As you are completing your lunge it is very important for you to think about keeping the weight in the heel of your front foot. By doing this, you will help to keep yourself from leaning too far forward in your lunge and letting your knee cross forward past your toes, which we never want to allow to happen. By letting the knee too far forward you put a significant amount of unneeded stress on your knees. To protect your knees, it is extremely important to pay attention to this detail and ensure that your knee is directly over your ankle and no farther.

Once down in the lunge position, you will keep your torso upright and maintain this low position as you rotate the medicine ball around your body to the side of the knee that is forward. Return to the center and step back to your starting position. From here you will alternate to the other leg, lunge forward and rotate toward the knee that is forward. When you rotate, you want to be sure that only your torso is rotating and that you are keeping your hips and knees straight ahead. They will want to shift to the side when you rotate so you will need to actively work to maintain your square position. Again, you will return the ball to the center and then step back to your starting position. You will continue to alternate legs for the duration of the repetitions.


New Moves: Stability Ball Squat, Curl & Press

Many of the exercises that we have explored thus far have incorporated balance or instability with basic exercise movements. However, we should eventually transition to something a bit more exciting — total body, functional movements. We will cover some of these great exercises over the course of the next couple of articles, but first let me explain what makes these different. Then initial set of exercises were a new take on movements you already know, but these newer ones will focus on complex movements that will most likely be new to you. There are many benefits to doing total body movements, such as increased muscle recruitment and increased calorie burn. These two things mean that you are working more efficiently than doing separate exercises for each of the muscle groups that are involved in the movement — doing more in less time!

Today, let’s take a look at a squat, curl and press. For this exercise we will use a stability ball and dumbbells. One benefit specific to this exercise is that is a very helpful tool to perfect your squat form. When we discussed squats previously, I stressed the importance of keeping the weight back in your heels and ensuring that your knees were not shifting forward over your toes. This is obviously easier said than done because of how unstable it makes you feel (that feeling of falling backward). By using the stability ball in this exercise, we are giving you something to lean back into and totally alleviate the falling backward feeling.

Let’s get you in position! You will place the stability ball up against a wall at a height that puts it right at the small of your back. You will have the weights in hand and lean back against the ball, making sure your lower back is supported by the ball. From here you want to walk your feet out in front of you a bit so that you have room to execute your squat. Feet will be shoulder width apart, with toes facing forward. From here you will sit down into your squat, as if you are sitting down into a chair, while pushing your weight back into the ball so your hips go straight down and straight back up when you sit and stand up respectively. Then, you will bend at the elbows and bring those dumbbells up to your shoulders completing the bicep curl. Finally, you will press the dumbbells overhead to complete the overhead shoulder press and then do the exact opposite on the way down.

This is a total body movement but we are breaking it up into three separate parts: squat, then curl, then press. It is very important, as with all exercises, that you maintain a very controlled tempo. You never want to let gravity control your movements or where and what speed the weights move, this is all up to you to control.

Sometimes these can be hard to visualize so please take a look at the video demonstration. I hope you enjoy this exercise and find it valuable toward reaching your health and fitness goals!