Medicine balls make an effective addition to any workout plan as they are versatile and simple to use. They can add weight to ordinary movements or be used to modify and increase the difficulty level of traditional exercises. You can use them in specific ways to better engage certain muscle groups. To pick the right medicine ball for you, the general rule of thumb is to select a ball that is weighty enough to slow your movement and force you to use more strength and power. But it should not be so heavy that it impedes your range of motion. It should also not make it too difficult to perform a move controllably and accurately.
Need some thought-starters on how to incorporate medicine ball exercises into your workout? We’ve got you covered!
9 Medicine Ball Exercises to Add to Your Programming
1. Overhead Medball Slam
Begin in a stance with your knees bent slightly and your feet at a shoulder-width distance. Grasp your chosen medicine ball in both hands and raise it high above your head. Slightly hinge forward at your hips, staying mindful not to arch or bend your back. Then, slam the ball down on the ground in front of you. Take note that you should slam it powerfully, but not too hard. Keep the movement controlled and purposeful so that you engage your muscles correctly.
2. Medicine Ball Chop
This exercise works your obliques and abs explosively while testing your coordination as you move from high to low positions. Begin the movement in an athletic stance with your knees bent slightly and your hips hinged forward. Hold the ball over one shoulder with both hands. Take a deep breath in, and then exhale as you “chop” the ball across and down your body towards your left knee.
When you swing, keep the motion controlled by engaging your core. Don’t be careless about getting caught up in the momentum as you might strain your torso if you accidentally twist too far. Do the same for the other side, then repeat.
3. Figure 8 Rotation
This is one of those medicine ball exercises that is deceivingly simple but will engage and tire out your muscles when done correctly. Start with your feet at shoulder-width distance. Grasp the medicine ball with both hands. Move it to one side of your head, fully extending your arms. Then, move the medball slowly to the other side in curved manner, forming the shape of the number 8.
The key is to do this as slowly and fluidly as you can, keeping the movement controlled. After a few rounds in one direction, switch to the other way.
4. Rotational Medicine Ball Throw
This exercise will help you improve your core rotation so that you can do this explosively. Start by standing sideways a few feet away from a wall, holding a medicine ball in both hands. Position yourself into an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and your torso slightly hinged forward. Rotate your shoulders and hips away from the wall, then to explosively rotate toward it.
As you twist in the direction of the wall, throw the ball into it as powerfully and quickly as you can so that it bounces. Pick it up, switch sides, and repeat. You can do this workout for 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Reaching Romanian Deadlift
This move tests your balance and power. Begin by standing on one leg while grasping the medball in both hands in front of your chest. Slightly bend the knee of your standing leg. Slowly hinge forward at the hips and extend your free leg straight behind you. Ideally, your body should form a straight line that is parallel with the floor and perpendicular to your standing leg.
For an added layer of challenge, you can extend your arms with the medball over your head to amp the ante a notch. (In other words, your arms will be parallel with the floor.)
6. Bent-Over Medicine Ball Row
Next on our list of medicine ball exercises are rows.
Begin by standing with your feet at a shoulder-width distance and slightly bend your knees. Hold your medicine ball in front of you with both hands, arms extended forward. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight until your torso is parallel to the floor. Pull the medball up to your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades back. Hold the pose momentarily, then lower the medball with control.
Repeat this rowing motion as many times as you can in 45 seconds.
7. Weighted Superman
This is a slightly modified version of the standard Superman move. For this exercise, you’ll need to roll out an exercise mat to cushion your torso from the ground. Start by lying down on your front with your arms extended ahead of you. Hold a medball in both hands. Ideally, pick a lightweight one, somewhere between four to six pounds.
Relax your shoulders to keep your shoulder blades down, then raise your chin and chest off the floor. Engage your core and back to slowly lift your arms and legs as high as you can. Hold at your highest point for a few seconds, then come back down with control. Repeat this move.
8. Lunge Plus MedBall Pass
Start by standing in a wide stance with one leg extended far in front of you and the other extended far back. Grasp your chosen medball with both hands and hold it in front of your chest. You’re going to stay on one side and start lunging. Every time you lunge, pass the ball under your front leg and around the front again, moving it in a circle around that leg.
Repeat this as many times as possible in 45 seconds.
9. Sit-Ups with Medicine Ball Pass
This is a modified sit-up that involves moving the medball to your shins. It adds a few extra seconds to the movement and forces you to keep your attention in check if a standard sit-up has become too basic for you. Instead of a standard sit-up with both feet on the floor, lift your legs such that your shins are parallel to the floor and your knees and quads are perpendicular to your torso.
Hold your medball in both hands and above your head. When you lift your torso into a sit-up, reach your arms toward your legs. When you reach the apex of your sit-up, place the medball on your shins. Keep it balanced there like a basket as you lower your torso back to the floor. Then, sit back up to retrieve the ball from your shins. Repeat this as many times as you can in 45 seconds.
These are some of our favourite medicine ball exercises (and there are plenty more!). Which one will you try first?
Want to strengthen your core even more? Check out these lower ab exercises.