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I have noticed after giving up using weights a few months ago that juggling has become harder.

I can still do it but my arms get tired after 10 - 15 minuets. This reminds me a lot of weight training.

So I was wondering if I could compare juggling to working out? Which muscles would it train, What could I equate reps and sets to and what would be good durations and rest days.

Bit of a strange question but I find keeping healthy very boring an keep giving up after a few months of what ever I try but I like juggling so this may be able to keep my interest.

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What are you trying to compare? I am not clear as to what the question is. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 20 '11 at 16:20

3 Answers 3

If you use relatively heavy props there will be some benefit, but IMO not really comparable to dedicated strength training. You'll build muscular endurance at low weight, probably increase vascularity to some degree, etc.

Which muscles will benefit will depend on the props, the moves, and the grips. Heavy, fat-handled clubs are good for forearms and biceps, and if you're doing "interesting" stuff like going behind-the-back you'll get a bit of shoulder-support benefits too. Doing under-leg work will bring some additional core and cardio benefits.

If you're using balls, try heavier, shot-filled balls. Switch your grip (normal underhand and overhand). Kick it up a notch with floppy sand/shot bags to get a lot more forearm work in.

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If you mean purely muscular fitness, I doubt it's much. But juggling does seem to help the brain.

Juggling Enhances Connections in the Brain

We have demonstrated that there are changes in the white matter of the brain – the bundles of nerve fibres that connect different parts of the brain – as a result of learning an entirely new skill,’ explains Dr Johansen-Berg.

As they said, it may be any new skill, not just juggling - but juggling does also improve hand-eye coordination.

Health Benefits of Juggling

The second benefit of juggling is physical. The practice of juggling improves the body’s timing and rhythm, as well as peripheral vision, hand-eye coordination and visual reaction time.

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I'm an ACE-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor who teaches juggling for fitness (JuggleFit). Juggling is certainly a workout and can burn up to 280 calories an hour. I would recommend doing it for cardio for 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week.

I recommend against using weighted balls as that can be bad for your wrists and cause injury. Reps with dumbbells are okay because the weight is not falling into and impacting your hand/wrist - it's a slow, smooth and controlled movement. But since juggling is an endurance activity, and constant, the repetitive stress is dangerous. Many have warned against using hand and ankle weights while walking for similar reasons.

Juggling will give you some muscle tone in your arms, but if you want something more, I suggest creating a circuit workout based around juggling. Set a juggling goal, whether it's 5 minutes of continuous juggling, or juggling in a new pattern until you drop. Then do 10-15 reps of lunges, squats, pushups, etc. Then back to juggling. Create a 30-45 minute circuit of juggling with upper and lower body moves as mentioned.

One more thing that is great - if you juggle 3 well - hold a lunge for 15-30 seconds while juggling. This really fires off your leg muscles and engages your core. You will feel it!

Check out Benefits of Juggling for many ways juggling can benefit your body and brain.

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Good juggling with a 1lb ball is unlikely to cause an RSI-related injury. The hand follows the trajectory of the ball; impact is minimal. Same reason that avoiding heel-strike running is easier on the joints--the muscles themselves are used to reduce impact. –  Dave Newton Nov 27 '11 at 18:16
    
That makes sense, 1 lb. might be okay. I've seen weighted juggling balls over 2 lbs though. Important thing is to stop and take a break if you feel pain. –  Heather Nov 27 '11 at 21:51
    
Like with everything, I suppose (unless you're in to it; I'm bad like that). For me the key difference is muscle v. "joint" pain, unfortunately for small-muscle groups it can be difficult to differentiate. I like my giant 10-lb squishy balls, though. Uh. Well. (And they're blue, which totally doesn't help that sentence :( –  Dave Newton Nov 27 '11 at 22:05

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