Every Wednesday, STACK brings you a new Exercise of the Week to challenge your strength, speed, conditioning or flexibility—or all of the above.
Med Ball Horizontal Throws build explosive back power, which is a difficult physical attribute to develop. The exercise mirrors a plyometric movement. Your muscles must decelerate a heavy ball, store the energy and explosively throw it.
In particular, this move works your lats, which are the largest muscle group in your upper body. Strong lats will improve any skill where you’re driving your arms down, such as throwing or grappling. They also contribute to gains in other upper-body exercises, such as the Bench Press.
In addition to helping you become more powerful, the move also improves:
Shoulder Stability. Your shoulder muscles must engage to stabilize your joints while you move, which increases shoulder durability when performing explosive movements such as throwing.
Workout I.Q. This movement is commonly performed in the gym, so do it to stand out among your teammates in the weight room and on the field.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Have a partner stand about 6 feet in front of you.
- When your partner tosses the med ball, catch it 1 to 2 feet over your face.
- Let the ball’s momentum carry it over your head until it touches the ground.
- Immediately throw the med ball back to your partner as forcefully as possible.
- Repeat for the specified number of reps (see below).
Common Mistakes and Fixes
Mistake: Catching the med ball too far in front, causing you to use your chest instead of decelerating with your back. This changes the movement into an Explosive Med Ball Press/Horizontal Throw hybrid.
Fix: Tell your partner not to throw the ball in a large arc. Catch the ball over your face so that its momentum can carry it smoothly overhead.
Mistake: Pressing the med ball when throwing it to your partner, which again turns it into a chest exercise.
Fix: Keep your arms straight and release the med ball directly over your face as if hurling it to your partner.
Mistake: Throwing the med ball back to your partner in an arc trajectory, which takes away the power component.
Fix: Aim the med ball at your partner’s waist and throw it as hard as you can.
Applying It to Your Workout
The Med Ball Horizontal Throw is designed to increase explosive back power. So it’s best to perform near the beginning of your workout before your muscles fatigue. You can also take advantage of its plyometric component by incorporating it into a PAP complex. To do this, perform a heavy back strength exercise, such as Weighted Pull-Ups, and follow immediately with the Med Ball Horizontal Throw.
- Power — Sets/Reps: 3-5×4-6 with a heavy med ball
- PAP Complex — Sets/Reps: 3-5×2-6 following 5 reps of a heavy back exercise.