Ballistic training effectively increases your functional power, particularly in your upper body and core. It involves working out with different-sized medicine balls and exercises that involve throwing them as hard and fast as you can. There is no deceleration phase when working out with medicine balls, which allows you to get more out of your workouts.
To clarify how ballistic training works, let’s use two similarly-sized athletes with an identical one rep max when squatting. The athlete who performs their max rep faster typically has the higher vertical jump.
So, why don’t athletes stick to lifting weights explosively then?
Lifting weights explosively also helps to improve functional strength, but you only get half of the benefits since you spend half of your rep trying to decelerate the weight. With ballistic training, your entire movement is used to accelerate the medicine ball, increasing your functional strength and power.
Some of the other essential things you should know about ballistic training includes:
- It can be used to develop sport-specific movements.
- It can be used by almost anyone regardless of their age.
- It helps to increase power and power endurance.
- Ballistic exercises are easier to learn than conventional lifts.
Five Ballistic Exercises You Should Add To Your Next Workout
Let us take a look at some simple ballistic exercises you should consider incorporating into your fitness routine:
1) The Backward Toss
The backward toss can be performed with or without a partner, but the latter is preferable. Still, you can make up for not having a partner by simply throwing the ball against a wall or into open space. A medicine ball with little or no bounce is ideal for the exercise. Here’s what it looks like:
- Stand a few meters away from your partner. If you don’t have one, stand with a few meters of space or a wall behind you.
- Hold the ball between your legs and squat.
- Explosively return from your squat and toss the ball over and behind your head as far as you can. Put your entire body into the throw.
- Your partner can then return the ball to you or perform the same exercise, throwing the ball in your direction. If you don’t have a partner, run or jog towards the ball and repeat the exercise.
- Aim for ten to twelve reps and three sets.
2) Supine Reactive Throw
Here’s an effective way to build up your upper body strength. You’ll need a medicine ball and a partner to perform this exercise. Supine reactive throws are the medicine ball version of the bench press. They allow you to perform the motion explosively without having to decelerate the weight you’re pushing.
Here’s how to perform supine reactive throws:
- Set up your workout area by placing an exercise mat on the ground and an exercise box or similar piece of equipment right where your head will be.
- Get into position by lying face-up on the ground. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Your partner gets on the box and drops the medicine ball into your waiting hands.
- Lower the ball as if you are performing a bench press and throw it up in the air, so your partner catches it.
- Perform about three sets of eight to twelve reps,
3) Standing Rotational Toss
The standing rotational toss targets your upper back, hips, and abdominal muscles. It gives your obliques, in particular, a thorough workout. It teaches your upper body, core, and hips to coordinate muscular actions, and the explosive strength it builds carries over into sports that require rotational energy.
The standing rotational toss is a simple exercise that involves twisting your torso so you can hurl a medicine ball towards a wall and catch it as it bounces off the wall.
Use heavy medicine balls and lower reps to increase your explosive power or higher reps with light med balls to burn fat and improve your conditioning.
To perform the exercise:
- Stand several feet from a wall with your side facing the wall.
- Grab a medicine ball and hold it in both hands. Maintain an athletic stance.
- Start by rotating your shoulder away from the wall as you prepare for the throw. Immediately reverse directions, turning your shoulders explosively as you launch the ball against the wall as fast as possible.
- Catch the ball as it bounces off the wall and repeat the exercise for eight to twelve reps before switching sides. Aim for three sets.
4) Push-Press Throw
The push-press throw is a ballistic exercise that mainly targets your shoulders. It also activates your triceps and quads to a lesser extent. The only equipment you need to perform this exercise is a medicine ball and a place with a high ceiling.
The key to getting the most out of this exercise is performing it with proper form. When you do, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you build up explosive strength in your shoulders.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Hold on to a heavy med ball with your hands and keep your thumbs pointing towards your chest.
- Place the ball underneath your chin so that you now have your thumbs pointing at your neck. You are now in position to perform the exercise.
- Start the motion by squatting down and throw the ball straight up in the air as hard as you can as you come out of the squat.
- Jump off the ground a little as you throw the ball. Wait until it hits the ground and repeat the exercise seven to eleven more times. Try to get three sets in.
5) Overhead Throw
This exercise looks very similar to how soccer players perform sideline throws. It helps to build your upper body strength and explosiveness. Here’s what it looks like:
- Start standing a couple of meters from a wall.
- Grab a heavy medicine ball with little bounce in it with both hands.
- Position the ball behind your head as you prepare to throw it.
- Take a forward step and throw the ball towards the wall as hard as you can.
- Aim for three sets of eight to twelve reps.
You may also like: