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Great Stuff!

There's loads of great stuff out there to enhance your physical and spiritual health. Every two weeks, All Spirit Fitness brings you something we've found useful. Sometimes it's a brand new fitness tool, sometimes it's an everyday item that you can find at the store. Whatever it is, rest assured that if it's on this page, we think it's great!

Medicine Ball

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The medicine ball is one fitness tool that hasn't yet fully made the transition from training camps to your average, everyday exerciser. But it should — it can be used in any number of ways to build core strength, power, balance and more. It can go places and do things that a dumbbell can't. And it's fun to use.

What exactly is a medicine ball? It's a weighted ball that comes in various sizes, most typically anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds. (There are medicine balls that are as heavy as 25 pounds, but these specialty balls are generally used by bodybuilders or for specific sports training techniques.) They have actually been around for several thousand years — in Persia 3000 years ago, wrestlers trained by using sand-filled bladders. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used animal skins filled with sand for rehabilitation therapy. The medicine ball as we know it started coming into use a little more than a century ago. As modern technology advanced, manufacturers began to fashion the medicine ball out of high-tech materials, negating the need for sand.

Medicine balls are great for functional core training, since the way you handle the ball mimics the motions you make in everyday life. You can use them to build up "explosive" strength so you put more power behind your movements (for example, working with the medicine ball can help you throw farther). You can use a medicine ball with or without a partner. On your own you can use it to enhance ab exercises, holding it in your outstretched arms as you crunch and twist from side to side to exercise your obliques, or placing it between your knees either for reverse crunches or doing knee lifts on a Captain's Chair. If it strains your elbows or finger tendons to grasp lightweight dumbbells, you can use a medicine ball instead for many exercises. In athletics, medicine balls are used in plyometric drills so players can improve their game (that's where the explosive strength training comes in). A ball or two, about the same weight as your lightest dumbbells, will come in handy even for casual exercise enthusiasts. A medicine ball is a great workout tool — it looks simple but its versatility is unmatched.

Here is a page of simple medicine ball exercises.

Want a whole book of medicine ball exercises? The Great Medicine Ball Handbook is highly recommended!

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