Juggling with Weighted Balls – Bad Idea?

Sometimes people ask my my opinion on juggling with heavier balls for strength training. I personally don’t recommend juggling with weighted balls, which is why JuggleFit does not offer them in its product line.

I’m sure many of you have noticed that your arm muscles get pretty tired after juggling with JuggleFit balls or other balls that weigh from 5 to 7 ounces. This is okay as long as you stop when you are tired and don’t overdo it.  Just like with anything, moderation is key.

With juggling, you want to keep going and increase your endurance; it is a cardio activity that can be carried out continuously over a period of time, just like walking, running, and biking. Juggling with weighted balls would be like doing biceps curls continuously, just pumping the weights up and down. Endurance training such as this is not generally recommended for biceps curls or any strength training exercise. In fact, experts in the medical field do not recommend walking with ankle or wrist weights for the same reason.

You could certainly use the weighted balls to do biceps curls or other similar exercises, and stop after so many reps. They would be a replacement for weights. This is just like the upper body toner exercises in the Juggle Your Way to Fitness Beginner Level DVD, which are actually done with regular juggling balls. It’s amazing what a workout you can get without weights, just by focusing on contracting and isolating specific muscles.

So be careful next time someone suggests that juggling weights (or bowling balls!) would be a great workout. Listen to your body, and feel how it responds to juggling with balls of normal weight. That is plenty of work for your joints, muscles and tendons. Juggling is great for cardio, general toning, developing coordination and balance, and brain exercise. To build muscle, add strength training into your routine either in between juggling or as a separate activity.

New to juggling? You can learn to juggle in my free video here.

2 thoughts on “Juggling with Weighted Balls – Bad Idea?

  1. Hi Heather,

    I want to start juggling using heavy DX balls (450g). You say on your page that you advise against it for the same reasons you advise against ankle weights. I see where you are coming from, however, if you don’t mind me asking, I’m curious to know what research there is on this? Has there been a study on this? I’m an experienced juggler, who can juggle 7 balls, 4 clubs and and 4 rings. I’ve been juggling for 8 years, so perhaps my body could be better suited to the extra weighted balls? The main patterns I want to do with the weighted balls is 5 ball cascade (which I can do fluently) and 3 balls in one hand (also fluent). Do you think I should be safe doing this considering my experience? The reason I ask, is because juggling is my world, and I don’t want to increase my chances of joint/bone/tendon/muscle problem in my arms/hands/wrists as I get older. I’m 27. I really appreciate your time in replying to me, many thanks, regards, Philip.

    • Hi Philip,

      Thanks so much for your question. Sounds like you have an awesome juggling practice regimen! I don’t know of any research that shows juggling weighted balls is harmful, but any repetitive weight-bearing exercise has that potential, including lifting weights. So I recommend against it and promote integrating pushups and squats in with juggling practice. Wrists are delicate, of course, so catching a weighted ball the wrong way could cause a painful injury. If you do juggle weighted balls, proper form becomes even more important (and it sounds like you have that covered). And as always, if you feel pain, stop and take some time off. There are many jugglers that use weighted balls, so you might reach out to one of them and see if they’ve encountered any issues. I’ve met plenty of jugglers that disagree with my viewpoint, but my goal is to make juggling accessible, non-intimidating, and safe for people of all ages. Happy Juggling!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s