Outside of the barbell, med balls are one of the best tools to improve power. And one of the most popular med ball exercises to improve power is the med ball rotational throw.
Rotational power is key for sports like baseball, golf, and tennis as you must hit or throw a ball powerfully. Plus, strength, power, and fitness athletes can use the med ball rotational throw to improve performance, power and to look great with their shirt off. Here we’ll go into what it is, how to do it, what muscles it trains and how to best program them into your training.
What is a med ball rotational throw?
The med ball rotational throw is a power exercise targeting the obliques, glutes, adductors, and the upper back. This involves transferring the power from your lower body to your upper body in an explosive fashion to throw the med ball into the wall. Then catch it on the rebound to reset and repeat.
The biggest mistake people make with this is thinking you throw the ball with your arms when you’re really throwing with your hips. Your arms are an extension of your hips because this is where the power comes from.
It’s all in the hips baby.
How to perform a med ball rotational throw
Stand about two to four feet away from the wall with a medicine ball in both hands and take the ball to your back hip. Then transfer your weight from the back hip to the front hip while rotating your hips to throw the ball explosively against the wall. Catch the ball with both hands, rest and repeat.
This is a full-body exercise involving the lower and upper body. Although it looks like an upper-body exercise, you’ll be surprised at how many lower-body muscles this type of rotational throw trains.
- Hip internal and external rotators
- Rectus abdominals
- Internal and external obliques
- Anterior deltoids
- Upper back (rhomboids, middle traps)
Med ball rotational throw benefits
Performing the med ball rotational throw can improve sports performance, improve the transfer of power from the lower to upper body, and can even improve core stability in explosive movements like weightlifting and sprinting.
Here are three other benefits of programming rotational exercises like this in your training.
- Improved anti-rotational strength
Developing stronger obliques and abdominals in the rotational plane can improve your ability to stabilize the spine and hips during explosive movements such as swings, slams, jumps, and running.
- Total-body power and explosiveness
Strengthening the core with the rotational med ball throw will improve your ability to integrate the hips and upper torso into any rotational movement. When performing the med ball rotational throw you will improve core stability, muscle development, and total-body coordination.
- Injury prevention
Unwanted rotational movement of the spine can affect the hips and knees in movements like overhead squats, back squats, pulls, and others. By not having the required strength to control rotational movement during both controlled and ballistic movements, you may run the risk of stressing muscles, joints and tendons that are not intended for rotation.
How to add it into your routine
Below are three ways to program the med ball rotational throw into your training, allowing you the flexibility to use them where they benefit you the most.
Rotational exercises like med ball throws can serve as a light warm-up for more explosive-based rotational work to come in the power, accessory, or conditioning training.
- Accessory work
Rotational strength exercises like the med ball rotational throw programmed using moderate loads help develop stronger muscles, coordination, and improve total body power and explosiveness.
By doing the med ball rotational throw as part of your conditioning routine you can increase training volume and enhance your movement skills under fatigue, which is important for injury prevention when you play for a living.
Weight, set, and rep suggestions
When in doubt, go on the lighter side because the point is to develop power, not strength. If the ball is too heavy to throw powerfully, then you’re training strength. A great starting point is between four to 15 pounds (depending on your size and strength) with a sweet spot being between six and 10 pounds.
When training power, being explosive is the main objective. The moment you lose being explosive, you’re not training power anymore, you’re training muscular endurance. For most of us, this is between four to 12 reps or 10 to 20 seconds of full-on effort.
If you lack hip mobility, suffer from low back pain or just like to spice things up, the half-kneeling and tall-kneeling med ball rotational throws are great options. By lowering your center of mass, you can move your hips and shoulders without too much compensation from the pelvis and lower back. This is great if you suffer from lower back pain.
Plus, with the narrower base of support of the kneeling positions, you’ll receive extra core stability and glute-activation benefits. Use the same loading, set, and rep recommendations above.
If you don’t have a ball or wall, you can still train explosive and powerful rotation by using tools such as bands, the barbell and even dumbbells. Here are a few alternatives to perform if the ball or wall isn’t available.
The landmine rotation develops a stronger core by being resistant to rotational forces while rotating the barbell from side to side. This exercise teaches you how to transfer force from the lower to the upper body while limiting movement from the core much like the med ball variation.
Dumbbell rotational punch
Punching with light dumbbells will mimic heavy bag work and transfer of force from the lower to upper body like the med ball rotational throw. Plus, this trains your deltoids, serratus, upper back, and core while improving your rotational power.
This is not as explosive or as powerful as the med ball rotational throw but still trains the same movement. This emphasizes more glutes, adductors and obliques and less upper body. A handy variation if you haven’t a ball or a wall.