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Medicine Ball Workouts

16 Medicine ball exercises to build core strength!

If you’re getting bored with your normal workout routines then why not try something different, like a medicine ball workout?

We can’t really call medicine ball training new as it’s one the oldest forms of resistance training dating back to 3,000 years ago.

William Kraemer, PhD for the American College of Sports Medicine¹ says that medicine ball training is a great addition to any workout routine as it introduces new physical adaptations and helps develop total body power, muscular endurance and flexibility.

Plus the exercises are just plain FUN!

Unlike dumbbells medicine balls allow for more versatility in range and plane of motion, you can throw it to a partner or wall, plus you can slam it to the ground, wall or into the air for an explosive power workout.

5 Major Benefits of Medicine Ball Training:

No.1: Core Strength

Medicine ball exercises can engage your core in the way other fitness tools such as dumbbells, kettlebells and barbell can't. Because medicine ball allows you to perform abs and core engaging movements such twisting, turning, bending and throwing, it adds variety and more effectiveness to your core strengthening workouts.

When you perform a functional exercise like medicine side throw, you recruit your obliques, glutes, lats and many other supporting muscles to help you carry out the movement, leading to core strength and abs slim down. The more core you train, the better you'll be able to transfer power through your body.

Plus that also means your back will be stronger and less prone to injury.

No.2 Overall Strength Development

You can use a medicine ball to perform certain strength training exercises to build muscle tones and strength. For instance, you can hold a medicine ball while doing squats and lunges to increase the intensity of the exercises. This added resistance helps development of lean muscle mass and strength in your legs, glutes and quads.

See exercise #11 and #15 in the chart for strength building medicine ball exercise examples. 

For total body conditioning that works everything from your legs to upper arms and shoulders, perform medicine ball squat thrusters.

This move works your thighs, butt, abs, triceps, shoulders and upper-back and is great for burning fat.

No.3 Rehabilitation Training

Many sports focused physical therapists use medicine ball training to rehabilitate spine, shoulders, and knee injuries. With a medicine ball, patients can perform multiplanar exercises that aid in building strength in all planes of motion.

According to Dan McGovern PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, Sports Medicine Director at Boston University Physical Therapy Center, exercises can be done at a slow to high speed to accommodate patients different fitness levels and needs. 

No.4 Flexibility

Some medicine ball exercises involve full-range of motion and the weights of the medicine ball forces your muscles to stretch further.

What that means is, you need to engage muscles greatly to control the movement that’s propelled by the added resistance.

This muscle engagement required to stop the movement during the eccentric phase increases your range of motion and promotes flexibility in your muscles and joints.

No.5 Power

Medicine ball is a great fitness tool to train for power. Medicine balls are one of the few fitness tools that enable athletes to generate more force in the beginning of a muscular contraction.

This unique quality of medicine balls helps athletes improve their ability to initiate movement more efficiently.

Take the medicine ball throw as an example, the body is able to store and then release elastic energy.

This makes the muscles more efficient at generating force quickly and more efficiently making it a perfect training method to work on power. 

Medicine balls are rare and versatile fitness tools that allow you to work in more than one area of fitness. It effectively trains you for strength, balance, power, flexibility and range of motion.

It’s also a fun fitness tool that adds new and unique workouts to your usual training regimens.

After all, what other equipment are you allowed to throw and slam? Not many! It’s truly a gem to have for home workout and play around with in the gym.

Due to the full body and rotational needed doing many of the functional medicine ball movements more core engagement is required.

David Szymanksi PhD, Professor at the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences, Louisiana Tech University showed in a study that medicine balls used in conjunction with traditional resistance training has been proven to improve sports performance.

To shake up your fitness routine try these 16 medicine ball exercises listed below.

16 Best medicine ball exercises to build a stronger core

#1: Medicine Ball Squats

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, elbows flexed at chest level.
  2. Bending the knees 90 degree, sit back and down into an imaginary chair keeping both heels on the floor.
  3. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then rise up to a standing position. Ensure that your knees track towards your toes.

#2: Medicine Ball Chest Pass

  1. Begin standing facing a wall or partner, with feet hip distance apart and knees soft.
  2. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, elbows flexed at chest level.
  3. Push and release the ball straight ahead as hard as possible. Do not allow the shoulders to rise as you push the ball forward. Catch and repeat.

#3: Rotational Medicine Ball Chest Pass

  1. Stand with your body turned at a 90 degree angle to wall or partner, holding a medicine ball with both hands, elbows flexed at chest level.
  2. Rotate your body quickly, and using the back arm push the medicine ball as hard as possible towards your target.
  3. As the body rotates ensure your pivot the back leg to allow for full power through the movement. Catch and repeat.

#4: Over Head Medicine Ball Slam

  1. Standing with feet hip distance apart and knees soft, holding a medicine ball with both hands.
  2. Raise the medicine ball high over your head and throw it at the ground as hard as you can, allowing the arms to follow through the move. Catch and repeat.

#5: Kneeling Medicine Ball Chest Pass

  1. Begin on the floor in a kneeling position, knees slightly apart and squeezing your glutes.
  2. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, elbows flexed at chest level.
  3. Push and release the ball straight ahead as hard as possible. Do not allow the shoulders to raise up during the movement. Catch and repeat.

#6: Medicine Ball Russian Twist

  1. Sit on the floor with legs together and knees bent, holding medicine ball in both hands at chest level.
  2. Engage the core and lean back at a 45 degree angle, keeping the head in line with the spine.
  3. Extend the medicine ball out slightly from the chest and rotate the chest and shoulders and touch the medicine ball to the floor beside your hips. Repeat on other side. 

#7: Medicine Ball Squat Thrusts

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, elbows flexed at chest level.
  2. Bending the knees, sit back and down into an imaginary chair.
  3. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then rise up to a standing position extending the arms and pushing the medicine ball overhead. Ensure that your knees track towards your toes.

#8: Medicine Ball Wall Slam

  1. Stand about 6’ from a wall, with your body turned at a 90 degree angle left shoulder nearest to the wall.
  2. With both hands hold a medicine ball beside your right hip. Rotate your body quickly, and throw the medicine ball as hard as possible towards wall.
  3. As the body rotates ensure your pivot the right leg to allow for full power through the movement. Catch and repeat.

16 Medicine Ball Workouts for Your Core

16 Medicine ball workouts to strengthen and tone up your body

#9: Medicine Ball Partial Squat

  1. Stand on your leg leg on a step or bench that’s about knee height.
  2. holding a medicine ball with both hands out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Flex your right ankle so that your toes are higher than your heel. Your right leg should be straight.
  3. Engage your abs to lower your body.
  4. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then push yourself back up to the standing position by pressing your leg heel into the step and forcefully driving your body upward.

#10: Medicine Ball Kneeling WoodChop

  1. Begin my kneeling on the right knee with left foot forward, both knees bent at 90 degree. Left thigh is parallel to the floor, torso vertical to the floor.
  2. Hold the medicine ball in both hands at your right hip, brace your core and move the ball diagonally upwards to the left. Return to starting position and repeat.

#11: Medicine Ball Lateral Squat

  1. Start with feet wide, toes slightly turned out, knees soft, core engaged, and holding the medicine ball in both hands in front of the chest.
  2. Bend your left knee, transferring your weight into the left leg, keeping both heels on the floor, shifting your butt back and down.
  3. Try and keep the chest lifted and the torso upright.

#12: Medicine Ball Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Begin standing upright with the left leg in front, right leg behind with the ball of the right foot on the floor with the right heel lifted. Holding a medicine ball at your chest, bend both knees lowering your body down towards the floor.
  2. Try to get both knees to 90 degree and the left thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. Push through the left foot to drive your body up to the starting position and repeat. Try to keep the core engaged, torso upright and shoulders and chest facing forward.

#13: Medicine Ball Walking Lunge with Twist

  1. This exercise is the same as the medicine ball squat but with less range of movement. Instead of sitting low into the squat the hips remain higher than the knees at all times.
  2. This shallow movement may allow for faster squats, more weight or for power movements with the medicine ball to work the shoulders.?

#14: Medicine Ball Squats Throw

  1. Grab a medicine ball and stand with feet about hip-width apart and toes pointed outward slightly, holding medicine ball in both hands at chest level.
  2. Begin exercise by squatting down so that your thighs are parallel with the ground and knees do not pass your toes.
  3. Come up out of the squat and push the medicine ball overhead so that the ball leaves your hands.
  4. Catch the ball and drop down into the next squat. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

#15: Medicine Ball Lunge

  1. Grab and hold the medicine ball with two hands close to your chest in front of you.
  2. Step forward with your left leg and slowly lower your body until your left knee is bent at least 90 degrees.
  3. Your knee shouldn't’t reach any further forward pass your toes of the foot of the left leg.
  4. Alternate your lunges, keeping your head and body straight. Try to leave some distance between your legs as you lunge – for balance primarily.

#16: Medicine Ball Squat to Press

  1. Start by standing and holding a medicine ball in your hands close to your chest, at your chest level. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart or a little wider.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then simultaneously drive your heels into the floor and push your body back to the starting position as you press the ball over your head.
  4. Lower the ball back to the start. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

Select a medicine ball weight appropriate for the exercise, whether you are using it for resistance, throwing, slamming or catching.

This will also determine whether you use a plain ball or one that has handles or ropes attached. As with all things it’s better to start easy and progress to harder version.

Which medicine ball exercise in the list is your favorite? Leave us comment below to let us know.

This article was orignally written in 2014 and revised in July, 2015.




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