I'm thinking about juggling heavy balls as part of my workout routine. Could the frequent impacts of juggling balls up to 1 kg every other day hurt my muscles or tendons? Assume that I'm of average fitness and won't drop the balls on my feet.
I teach juggling for fitness and always cringe when people ask about juggling with weighted balls. Yikes! Juggling is a cardio and endurance activity, just like walking or running, and medical experts recommend against using ankle or wrist weights for those activities. It places unnecessary stress on the joints. Juggling with weighted balls would be like doing biceps curls continuously, just pumping the weights up and down really fast. This could cause injury.
Also, you will probably notice your arms get tired just from juggling balls of regular weight. Keep it safe and reserve strength and resistance work for slower more controlled moves rather than integrating them into cardio exercise.
I wrote a blog post about this:
Given that you're not training to become a professional juggler, I would advise against juggling the balls.
- Your training your muscles for a very specific motor-task, which is most likely less effective than a regular workout.
- If the balls fall down with a significant speed, the strain on the tendons around your elbows could be quite high. Given that your muscles aren't adapted/trained for this kind of workout, you're basically looking for injuries. So don't start out with something like juggling!
- Because the exercise is quite difficult and you're making it harder with heavy balls, chances are you won't be performing it very well. This means you'll either perform it very slow or in a way, that hardly resembles juggling. Both are probably a poor workout. Unless you consider squatting to pick them up a good alternative, again: don't juggle.
That's not to say you can't work out with heavy balls! Simply trying to move your outstretched arms in full range of motion with heavy balls is destined to make your muscles very tired, very soon. Also the weight probably allows you to either do a ton of repetitions or perform them very fast. I would suggest looking for some kettle bell exercises and try doing some of those, only with the ball in your hand instead of a kettle bell. Once you've increased your fitness, you can always switch to the real deal.
What's best about these exercises is that they also train your legs (squatting to touch the floor) and core (rotating your body against gravity). Furthermore, you use your arms in a full range of motion and in a much more natural way. So when you decide to take on something heavier, you'll be prepared!
So please, don't go juggling heavy balls unless you want to become a professional juggler.
I believe that juggling is not only good for cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and muscle toning (particularly forearms, biceps, and shoulders), but also reflexes, motor skills, balance, and reaction time. It also increases brain size, creative problem solving, left-right brain coordination, concentration and focus, learning abilities, peripheral vision, neural systems, and confidence. I used to juggle basketballs continuously to get a good arm workout. I'm 21 now and looking to buy some 2 lb. weighted balls to increase all of these and really develop my Jedi skills. It's also very fun and stimulating to juggle to music you enjoy!
Gang, I've been juggling 1 pound balls for a few years now.
I'm 58 years old and I can tell you, juggling a pound is no strain at all.
(Now, I can also tell you that this changes when you move up to 1.6 or heavier balls.)
Unless you're tossing the balls 5 feet in the air, the extra weight of kinetic energy is not significant -- it's simply a gentle, flowing exercise.
So fear not -- start with the lightest heavy balls (I like the much smaller ones -- the DX Power Ball from Serious Juggling -- , the Dube ones I bought are 3" and that's pretty darn big). They're great for walking & juggling -- will fit in your pocket (ok, barely) when you get to a store.
I've been juggling weighted balls for more than a decade now. The brain has an easier time learning and adjusting when the ball weight is easily muscle-detectable so I think it is great for fast development of skills. Heavy ball juggling has never caused me any injury or discomfort. I love doing it and love the results. Started small but worked up to several hundred catches with objects greater than two pounds as seen here... https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRyLoSrQ/
IMO, if you start out simple and try not to overdo it, it shouldn't cause a problem. If your arms or hands start to hurt, cut back your repetitions and speed by juggling just 1 heavy ball until you've built up strength.
Just remember that light-weight numerous-repetition exercise is only really good for building muscle mass in those centralized locations. Make sure you also work on other muscle groups to balance things out.
BTW, I juggle 1kg balls regularly; about 5 mins @ twice/thrice a week.