If you’re looking to improve your movement efficiency and conditioning, our interview with fitness guru and wellness consultant Steve Feinberg about medicine ball training might be just what you need.
Steve’s specialties are in both in medicine ball training & martial arts and boxing movement & conditioning. In between his business obligations, Steve has found the time to study several different types of martial arts training along with the sport of western boxing. He’s also AFAA certified, Schwinn indoor cycle certified, USA boxing certified, and maintains current CPR/AED certification.
Steve is well known for the creation & dissemination of group exercise programs for many clubs and instructors offered at premier facilities including Equinox, The Sports Club/LA, The JCC, The YMCA and several residential/corporate fitness centers. Most recently, Steve has brought his programming to the International Fitness and Aerobics Academy; European master instructors within multiple countries are teaching his Speedball method to other professionals and mainstream fitness populations.
In this interview, he explains what medicine ball training is, how almost anyone can do it, and how it can help your fitness regime in multiple ways.
1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?
I began in the martial arts: Chinese Kung Fu to be exact. That was…wow, 17 years ago. And I still like it–imagine THAT! I went from a private school in LI, to the most premier clubs in NYC…and now some of the most premier clubs around the world. It’s amazing.
2. What is the Speedball workout? And what inspired you to create it?
It’s a cardiovascular & muscular endurance movement challenge that employs a medicine ball as additional resistance and a tactile tool, focusing on functional core stability and multi-directional mobility…hey, you asked :-).
Basically, we move a medicine ball around in all planes and vectors, add footwork and complexity, play with tempo and intensity, all based on the martial thought process of progressing basic techniques and principles in a proper sequence.
What inspired me to create it? Marcelo Ehrhart, my former manager and great instructor. He asked me to create a new format that was a cardio sculpt. I cringed, and began explaining to him that there’s no such thing as a “cardio sculpt” from a strength and conditioning POV. I told him we could add limited resistance to movement, and I had just finished working with a top 10 heavyweight fighter as his coach in Florida. So I created Speedball from some drills I had been doing with that fighter, marrying alignment training and progressive science of PT with the magic of GF. And that’s EnterTrainment!
3. What are the benefits of medicine ball training?
That’s a big question. The benefits are unlimited. Strength gains can be accomplished with a medicine ball heavier that 12% of the user’s total body weight. Augmenting body weight movement with just 5% can change the level of muscular recruitment. Just a lb or 2 per arm over an extended period of time can help to increase endurance in posture muscles dramatically (ask anyone who’s ever wore one lb gloves for a while, or held 2 lb dumbbells for a movement workout). Impact and plyometric drills for power development can be done with balls that have bounce. Partner work can be engaging and fun. All abdominal drills can be augmented. Children can become fit with a familiar shape and tool. Parkinson’s can be combated with use of a ball as a tactile response tool. Do you really need more?
4. Can anyone do medicine ball training?
If you have limbs, there’s a way! It is appropriate for all ages and sizes.
5. What are some simple ways a medicine ball can be incorporated into a strength workout?
Get a heavy ball and lift it with your legs, maintaining neutral spine, in any direction. Remember, it MUST be ~12% of the person’s total body weight to qualify as strength work. A 100lb woman must be lifting, rotating, or slamming at least a 10 lb ball. The only other option is to use the ball as active recovery in between strength exercises in order to maximize caloric expenditure and keep heart rate up, which is a wonderful tool.
6. Can medicine ball training help someone lose body fat? Can it help someone interested in building muscle?
Yes and yes! Losing fat is about EPOC: raising metabolism for extended periods of time as Exercise forces muscles to suck in Oxygen Post Exercise. We do that by tapping the 3 energy systems in a given workout (phosphagen/anaerobic, glycolitic, and oxidative/aerobic). Fat loss is easy. Building muscle is as well as long as you’re using a heavy enough ball.
7. What are your top 5 favorite medicine ball exercises?
You’ll have to attend a class or download a video (soon) to find out…there are plenty of sources to find medicine ball exercises just for the sake of exercises. Juan Carlos Santana is the GOD of med ball training, and his big book of medicine ball training is a simple bible for learning how to use one efficiently.
8) What’s a great medicine ball exercise progression? From Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced?
Same as any other exercise–take an exercise, decrease stability or add mobility, then add load! This is a basic formula that works for progression of exercises. If it’s a strength level exercise, adding plyometric activity can be ill advised for beginners. Better to play with pace/tempo of exercise to change quality of movement.
9. What are the best medicine balls to buy for home use?
Valeo is a fine company, and there are many out there. I would make sure my purchase was for a ball that could include some impact and a decent level of resistance. I’d purchase at least 5% of my body weight for home exercise that involves sets and reps.
10. Anything else you would like to share?
A weighted ball is just one wonderful exercise tool. The reason I love it is because it’s so familiar and easy to handle for all age groups and sizes. It’s the brand of my life’s work in fitness. Otherwise, martial arts is the most important thing, in my (or in my opinion) anyone’s physical life. This includes yoga. Live well and train hard, but above all train SMART for the long haul. Be well rounded between the different qualities and aspects of movement, stay whole and stay sharp!