Sample Class: Stabilization Cardio Interval

Use medicine balls to teach control and awareness.

Do you want to teach purposeful movement patterns in your choreographed classes? By using lower-weight (2-, 4- and 6-pound) medicine balls, students learn to focus on proper alignment, posture and core strength while increasing aerobic capacity. They also learn to slow down and stabilize their spines without bringing intensity levels down.

This workout focuses on balance, agility and anaerobic power. The movements emphasize simultaneous engagement of the anterior lower core and the posterior upper core, so participants need to have some level of body awareness. Be sure to demonstrate how to hold the ball while moving. A simple grapevine changes when you add a weighted ball to the mix. Hold the ball close to the sternum, fingers spread on the sides with wrists slightly flexed. Focus on precise movement, not perfect choreography. Progression and variety are critical when using medicine balls, as injuries can occur if patterns are overly repetitive. Some moves won’t match the music exactly. Do the choreography segments several times before plugging them into the 32-count phrases.

Stabilization Cardio Interval Details

Format: high-low and sport-specific/core stabilization class for as many participants as space and equipment allow

Total Time: 60 minutes

Equipment Needed: 2-, 4- and 6-pound medicine balls; also nonweighted balls for people with wrist, finger or other joint issues (Nonweighted balls still provide a dimension of focus and control.)

Music: mid tempo (128–32 beats per minute)

Warm-Up (5–8 minutes)
  • Stand with feet under hips (not wider than hips), toes facing forward.
  • Slide shoulder blades “down into the back pant pockets.” This will effectively retract and depress the scapulae and engage the muscles.
  • Hold ball in front of chest, arms close to sides, elbows lower than hands.
  • Keep hands on sides of ball, not beneath it.
    Numbers in parentheses indicate the counts for each move.
  • March in place holding ball (4 counts); press ball overhead (4 counts).
  • Squat 2x, letting ball “fall” between legs and extending elbows (8 counts).
  • Lunge back with external spinal rotation (8 counts each leg).
  • Repeat with opposite lead.

Cardiovascular Segment (40 minutes)

When the class is ready to begin more intense exercise, add the following segments.

Combination #1

  • Step-touch, moving ball in arc from hip bone to hip bone in front of body (8 counts).
  • Hop from right to left foot, landing softly (option: Switch ball from hand to hand) (8 counts).
  • Double step-touch right, and press ball up (option: Change to tossing and catching ball) (8 counts).
  • Double grapevine right (8 counts).
  • Repeat using left lead.

Interval #1

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”

  • Line participants at one end of room.
  • Preview two or more basic skills, such as jumping jacks, imaginary jump rope, cross-country skiing, squats, lunges, etc.
  • Participants perform selected skill for 10 counts and then jog to other side of room.
  • When they reach other side, they perform second skill for 9 counts and jog back to start until they get down to 1 count. (option: Substitute lunges for jogging).

Combination #2

  • Do two V steps (right lead), pressing medicine ball out in front of body (8 counts).
  • Hold ball chest level and do two jumping V steps (like jumping jacks but jumping forward) (4 counts).
  • Jump squat hold, and then jump to neutral (4 counts).
  • Repeat using left lead for V step (total 32 counts both leads).

Interval #2

Level-one plyometric drills (moving across exercise space):

  • High knees (emphasize vertical height).
  • Back kicks (emphasize knee flexion).
  • Russian kicks (emphasize precise knee extension and then controlled speed).
  • Skipping (emphasize distance).

Combination #3

  • Double grapevine right, holding ball at chest level, with shoulders forward, hips squared; maintain athletic stance (8 counts).
  • Walk back left to start position (8 counts).
  • Lateral shuffle right, holding ball at chest level; maintain athletic stance (8 counts).
  • Walk back left to start position; step together on counts 7, 8; grapevine to other side.

Repeat sequence, starting with double grapevine left.

Cooldown and Balance Training (15 minutes)

March in place while explaining next sequence. Bring participants’ rating of perceived exertion down to between 3 and 5 before moving on to balance exercises.

Medicine Ball Wood Chop Squat

Progression #1:

  • Begin in neutral with pelvis, shoulders, toes and knees facing forward, feet hip width apart.
  • Squat while holding ball at chest, elbows drawn to sides, shoulder blades down (12–15 reps).

Progression #2:

  • While in squat, bring ball to right shoulder, then lower to outside opposite knee. Keep sternum and spine upright; ball crosses midline of body (12–15 reps).
  • Switch sides.

Progression #3:

  • Perform as above, but add one-legged balance when moving out of squat (12–15 reps).

Cue balance, neutral stance, steady eyes, spinal alignment, contracted abdominal wall.

  • Switch sides.

Single-Arm Overhead Press With Medicine Ball

Progression #1:

  • Stand with feet under hips, toes forward, hips squared.
  • Raise and lower right arm overhead while balancing ball in hand (12–15 reps).
  • Switch sides.

Progression #2:

  • As right arm presses overhead, flex opposite knee and raise foot off ground, balancing on one foot. Lower arm and foot in same sequence (12–15 reps).
  • Switch sides.

After you have performed the skill sets, move on to some workout-appropriate flexibility exercises, focusing on the muscles trained, to complete the cooldown sequence.

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Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS

IDEA Author/Presenter
Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, is an international presenter, author and 25-year fitness veteran. She is... more less
April 2005

© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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