October 01, 2006
With medicine ball training, velocity or a combination of velocity and weight should always be the overload mechanism of choice. This is the mechanism of the Olympic lifts and their variations. Olympic weightlifting’s generation of horsepower through the bilateral summation of forces from ankle, knee, hip, posterior spine, shoulder, and elbow is unmatched, as all of the joints are working ballistically in the proper sequence at precisely the proper time. Medicine ball work can also provide excellent horsepower training, using many more combinations of force summation, as long as the load is not too great.
When this is the intent, lighter balls should always be used. Where pure strength through less complicated movement is the only intent, heavier balls can be used as a strength-training implement. Coaches, trainers, and physical educators are often baffled when an individual’s performance at a physical task does not correspond to expectations based on the measured strength levels of the body segments involved in the task. Failing to recognize the reason for the discrepancy, they continue along the same path of trying to develop greater strength. Though psychological and other complicated physical factors may partially account for the performance shortfall, the primary cause is often the insufficient generation of power through the summation of the forces involved.