Return to the Iron Dungeon
Medicine Ball Ab Routine
A Routine for Increased Abdominal Power
CAUTION: This routine can cause *serious* injury if not done carefully. I claim no responsibility for injuries.
Lie on your back, with your legs bent so that your lower back is flat on the ground. Have your partner take the 8-12 lb medicine ball and drop it a short distance above your abdominal muscle. Attempt to drop it between the lower ab region and just below your sternum. It is important that your partner stand directly above you so that he/she only needs to drop it straight down into the right region.
Slightly before the ball hits the abs, flex your abs so that the ball hits solidly. If you flex too early, you will lose muscle tension, and flexing too late will likely get you winded when you are using heavier hits later on.
After impact, grab the ball and thrust it back up to your partner's hands. At this point, you should say "up" "down" "higher" or "lower" to refine the ball's drop location (higher & lower refers to vertical position, up & down refers to lateral position). It is very important that you continuously communicate the position, as it is common to drift when you start doing them hard.
Once you're comfortable with the feel of the drops and have the timing correct, increase the intensity. Get your partner to drop from a higher starting point, then begin to start "throw-downs". At this point, it is critical that you are in good communication with your partner, otherwise you may sustain SERIOUS injury.
The throw-downs must be done with your partner's elbows out, so that the direction of force is directly straight down. You can tell if the flexion of your abdominal muscle is timed correctly as the ball should *bounce* off your abs with a thud, not compress in and roll off. Your goal should be to match the speed of the dropping ball with the upward thrust of your abdominal wall during flex.
The most crucial part of this is that the position be kept precise, and that adjustments are made by your partner (as per your direction) continuously. For most people, there is a fairly narrow margin of error in the safe contact region. If your partner starts to creep up too high, you will begin to feel a lasting unpleasant sensation as the ball comes in contact with your rib cage or begins to wind you. Hitting even further up is generally very painful and often leads to winding. Likewise, (at least for guys) one cannot hit too low, or other unpleasant feelings are likely. Fortunately, this exercise is safe if you always keep the ball within a region that doesn't cause discomfort, and you have adequate timing. It's often easier to do this exercise with increased intra-abdominal tension from repeated Valsalva maneuvres. On heavier hits, it may be tempting to expel some of your air through your teeth upon contact, but try to limit this, as this will likely give you a sore throat after some time.
After a while you will probably get accustomed to the timing and location required for effective hits. Now, get your partner to gradually hit harder. My partner and I continue to the point where we are throwing the ball from above our heads as hard as we can (for sets of 20). Of course, at this intensity we are extremely careful of positioning. A caveat, though: occasional slip-ups do happen in this exercise, leading to periods of a couple weeks to recover before doing them again. In the worst case it's possible to cause bruising or cracking of the ribs, or cause internal bleeding, so be careful. Over time, though, you will develop an extremely strong midsection that can take a hefty blow, or react with significant power.