The Black Ball Workout
Last Friday CBFers participated in the first solo/pairs workout with new medicine balls that begins easy and ends not so easy. It’s a great addition to our program for older adult fitness.
Think about how you move every day – forwards, backwards, sideways, facing up, facing down, turning, reaching, tossing, throwing, crouching, kneeling, and other …ings.
Often you must complete these movements while managing a light load of one to ten pounds – laundry, groceries, a child, skis, a case of beer, daypack, firewood, coiled hose, box of books, a chair, a stack of dishes.
These diverse movements require strength and flexibility, in equal amounts, from head to toe. There’s no better or safer way to develop this combination than by moving a weighted medicine ball against gravity – in multiple directions, at varying velocities – throughout your range of motion.
In the fitness world, you hear the phrase “range of motion.” Maintaining a useful range of motion is really important for older adults to continue participating in life’s many activities and remaining independent deep into old age.
Having a useful range of motion is much more being able to reach up or bend down or twist into a static yoga pose. That’s just the beginning. You also need to be able to generate force and absorb force.
For example, when you reach up to the overhead bin to remove a bag on the airplane, if you have a useful range of motion, you’ll not only grab the bag, you’ll also control its descent, avoiding dropping it onto the passenger seated below. When you need to move a shovelful of dirt, you’re be able to sequence the flexion of your ankles, knees, and hips to reach it, then able to quickly straighten them to lift the load, rotate, and toss it away.
The physical advantages gained with medicine balls is more than stronger muscles. The wide range of movements improve the tensile strength and elasticity in ligaments, tendons, and the connective tissue that surrounds every muscle. These are what tend to get injured when you are not fit.
Check the pictures of excellent range of motion for 50+ adults. These exercisers are able to extend their arms straight out from their bodies while holding up the weighted balls because their arms and shoulders are strong. Their arm and shoulder actions are supported by a stable platform provided by their flexed ankles and hips. Straight backs and engaged cores protect them from dangerous pressure on their lower backs.
We spend lots of time in the numbered circuits developing raw strength with heavier resistances in isolated muscles, like biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and hamstrings, as well joint complexes like shoulders or knees.
In the Black Ball Workout, these strengthened body parts come together, preparing you for useful movement in the real world.
And it’s fun. One CBFer said it was one of the funnest things she ever did in her entire life.