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Medicine Balls: A Regimen as Old as Rock
During class, you might be asked to heave a medicine ball. Learn more about these ancient workout aids with Groupon’s exploration.
Although modern medicine balls often deviate in color or material from their leather-clad precursors, the concept underlying them—a weighted ball used for exercise—has proven all but immortal. Fitness centers and sports-rehabilitation clinics across America use medicine balls in an infinite variety of exercises, strengthening cores, chests, arms, and legs while boosting coordination and flexibility. Popular exercises include the russian twist, which require participants to hold and rotate the ball left and right while keeping core muscles tight, and squats, which call for exercisers to keep the ball at arm’s length as they perform crouching movements.
“Someday,” former Olympic weightlifting coach Istvan Javorek told ESPN The Magazine, “we will discover drawings of two cavemen throwing a rock back and forth. As long as there have been athletes, there have been medicine balls.” It’s not an unlikely supposition—historical evidence suggests Persian soldiers trained with sand-filled leather sacks approximately 3,000 years ago, and Hippocrates prescribed heavy, padded balls for therapeutic use in ancient Greece. Since then, medicine balls of all shapes, sizes, and weights have made their way into the fitness regimens of military personnel, NFL football players, US presidents, and average citizens alike. Specialists recognize the medicine ball as one of the Four Horsemen of Fitness, in addition to the indian club, the weighted wand, and the dumbbell.