These are great for developing power in your athletes. For the client who cannot or are not comfortable doing Olympic lifting, a medicine ball is a great substitute to develop power in the hips. Most people don’t have the flexibility in their wrists to catch a bar in the clean position, and older clients will not have the patience or coordination to learn the Olympic lifts.
A medicine ball can be thrown to develop great hip extension power. A medicine ball can also be used as a substitute for the Olympic clean, squat clean, or power clean. Medicine balls can also develop rotational power which is essential for athletes. Think of a rugby player and the action of passing a ball sideways to a teammate. That is basically a rotational throw with a medicine ball. Another kind of throw often seen in sports is the overhead throw; that throw basically mimics the overhead pass in basketball. Moreover, tennis players and pitchers need to develop their overhead eccentric strength to prevent rotator cuff injuries. Any kind of medicine ball throw is a great total body and core exercise as you need to stabilize your torso while throwing the ball.
Medicine balls come in either elastic or non elastic types. The elastic balls are rubber balls that bounce. These balls are great for throwing off a wall and having it bounce back to you. Non-elastic balls are balls that don’t bounce. These balls are best thrown in open space and are good for any kind of strongman tosses and throws. Dynamax or Rage balls are used for wall balls, various partner passing drills, and are awesome for practicing the med ball clean. Slam balls are another great tool for providing a great upper body throwing power exercise. Ball slams are excellent when incorporated into a metabolic conditioning workout.
Kettlebells, like medicine balls are tremendous for developing hip extension power. Hip extension is the most important movement in sports; it is involved in jumping, running, leaping, bounding, and throwing seen in almost every sport. The Russian and American kettlebell swing generates power at the hips and mobility in the shoulders and mimics the hip extension seen in Olympic lifts and jumping. Another exercise that can be used with a kettlebell is the Turkish get up. This exercise can be done during the warm up or cool down and develops trunk stability, shoulder stability, hip mobility, core strength, coordination and balance. It can also be used as an assessment to screen the limitations in your clients. For example, if your client cannot transition from the lying down with arms up to sitting up with keeping the arm up, then your client is limited in hip flexion strength.
Other exercises to be used with kettlebells are the suitcase carry for developing hip stability and grip strength. Strength coach Mike Boyle uses this specific movement as a progression to the side plank. Farmer walks with two kettlebells are also superb for grip strength and the walking locomotive pattern.
Sled pushing and pulling are great for hip extension strength, speed, and power. Notice a trend yet? It sports and in life, mobility in the hip is of utmost important. Sled pushing improves specific strength and power in the form of sprinting. The biomechanics of pushing a sled is the same as sprinting where your center of mass is slightly ahead of you and you create ground forces by pushing your feet off the ground. This is the overload principle, if you use the same mechanics of running with a heavier weight, you will be faster without the weight. Acceleration is what separates elite athletes from the regular athlete. Sled pushing or running with a strap and sled are excellent at producing acceleration.
I cannot begin to express how important the TRX is to any trainer’s repertoire of equipment. If you cannot afford a $3000 cable functional trainer, a $149 TRX system is just as good, sometimes better. Any exercise that can be done with a cable machine can be done better with a TRX. I can say that because almost every TRX exercise incorporates core stabilization. I love using the TRX for inverted or horizontal rows. I can just adjust the straps to change the angle of the row to make it easier or harder depending on the fitness level of the client. The TRX is universally scalable for any strength level by adjusting the straps. The TRX can be used for inverted pull-ups, a progression for push-ups, feet elevated push-ups, planks, split squats, knees to chest, and a whole bunch more. Do yourself a favor and get a TRX today!