Medicine Ball Workouts

Tamsen Butler
Group working out with medicine ball

Medicine balls are a simple, yet effective way to get a great, total body workout. These heavy balls come in a variety of weights, allowing you to work at your own level; when you are ready to move on, just do the same moves with a heavier weight ball. Try the following workouts to get acquainted with the results a medicine ball can bring.

Exercises for Medicine Balls

Medicine balls are versatile and can be used for both cardio and strength work. Include these exercises in your circuit training routine or use them to replace exercises you would typically do with hand weights.

Pass-Through Lunges

This exercise takes lunges to a new level by adding a medicine ball.

  1. Grasp the medicine ball in front of you with both hands.
  2. Drop into a frontal lunge, pausing at the bottom of the movement to pass the medicine ball under the bent leg.
  3. Return to standing.
  4. Repeat #2 with the other leg.

Drop Squat

Squats get deeper when you use the medicine ball to compel you to the ground.

  1. Grasp the medicine ball in front of you with both hands.
  2. Drop into a wide (sumo) squat, reaching the ball to the ground while keeping your chest up - it's the legs that do the work to draw you to the ground.
  3. Tap the ball to the ground before returning to your original position.
woman exercising with medicine ball

Throw and Sprawl

This exercise combines aerobic activity with agility work, speed training, and bodyweight resistance exercise. You'll need lots of room for this advanced exercise.

  1. Using both hands, push the ball away from you, creating a toss in the air.
  2. Wherever the ball lands, sprint to that spot and drop into a sprawl (also known as a burpee without the push-up - see video below).
  3. Squat down to grab the ball.
  4. Repeat, starting back at step #1.

Uneven Push-Up

The medicine ball's rolling abilities come in handy with this exercise, making for a smooth transition from one hand to the other.

  1. Assume push-up position, with the ball under one hand.
  2. Drop into the push-up with the hand still upon the ball.
  3. Push back up, then roll the ball to the other hand.
  4. Repeat with the other hand.
Man doing push-ups with a medicine ball

Wall Sit Frontal Raise

Wall sits with frontal raise target the lower body, core, and upper body, making them a good exercise to work multiple muscles.

  1. Drop into a wall sit while holding the ball in front of you with both hands (palms facing in). Make sure your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  2. Extend the ball in front of you with straight arms.
  3. Slowly raise the ball up to shoulder height, keeping the rest of your body still.
  4. Lower the ball slowly, keeping your arms straight.
  5. Repeat, starting with step #3.

Beginner's Medicine Ball Workout

Start with a lightweight medicine ball, but if it feels too light, switch to a heavier ball. Beginners who are brand-new to exercising or who are returning to exercise after an injury can try this workout the first couple times with no ball at all; this serves to develop neuromuscular memory for the movements and increase stability. With warm-up and cooldown, this workout should take around 20 minutes.

  1. Start with a warm-up.
  2. March in place with the medicine ball overhead for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  3. Do slow, controlled drop squats for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  4. Do medicine ball slams for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  5. Do biceps curls with the medicine ball for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds or rest.
  6. Place the medicine ball on the ground in front of you and toe tap the ball for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  7. Repeat the sequence twice, starting at step #2.
  8. Cool down and stretch.

Advanced Medicine Ball Workout

This challenging workout should be done with a heavy medicine ball and is appropriate for people who have worked with this equipment before and who are considered fit or athletic. The tabata format of this workout keeps you moving and pushes your stamina abilities, but only if you go as hard as you can with all-out effort. With warm-up and cooldown, this workout should take around 30 minutes.

  1. Start with a warm-up.
  2. For twenty seconds, throw and sprawl as fast as you can, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  3. For twenty seconds, do high knees with the medicine ball overhead, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  4. For twenty seconds, do medicine ball slams, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  5. For twenty seconds, do wall sit frontal raises using the heaviest weighted ball you can tolerate, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  6. For twenty seconds, do uneven push-ups as fast as you can, dropping deeply into the push-up, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  7. For twenty seconds, do drop squats with the heaviest ball you can control, dropping deeply into the squat, following each time with ten seconds of recovery. Repeat the sequence eight times.
  8. Cool down and stretch.

Medicine Ball Workout for Strength and Stability

Because of their tendency to roll, medicine balls are perfect for forcing your body to stabilize itself. This workout will build strength and challenge your core, increasing your stability. With warm-up and cool-down, this workout should take around 30 minutes; rest as needed while exercising.

  1. Start with a warm-up.
  2. Hold the ball overhead and do walking lunges across the room for 60 seconds.
  3. Holding the ball at chest level with palms facing inward, balance on your right foot for 60 seconds.
  4. Repeat #3 on your left foot.
  5. Lying supine, hold the medicine ball in between your ankles or shins and do leg lifts for 60 seconds.
  6. Hold a plank with both hands on the ball for 60 seconds.
  7. Do wall sits with lateral lifts for 60 seconds.
  8. With the ball on the ground in front of you, alternate standing on one foot and hinging at the hips to reach down and tap the ball with your hands. Your other leg pushes behind you. Do this for 60 seconds.
  9. Repeat, starting at #2.
  10. Cool down and stretch.

Specific Athletic Training

Athletes and other people who need intense workouts can utilize medicine balls in a variety of ways. Use the medicine balls to change up an existing exercise in the routine to make it more difficult and challenging. Examples of medicine ball exercises that can take workouts to a new level:

  • Push-ups: Instead of doing traditional push-ups, use the medicine ball either to hold on to while doing the push-ups, or push the medicine ball away at alternating push-ups to a partner who rolls the ball back for continued exertion.
  • Sit-ups: Instead of doing traditional sit-ups, either grasp a medicine ball while doing the sit-ups or throw the ball to a partner with alternating sit-ups.

Add a large exercise ball, and you can try several great ab exercises that incorporate both brute abdominal strength and balance/coordination.

partner sit up ball toss

Add Medicine Balls to Your Routine

Medicine balls can be of significant benefit to people who are simply looking to get their bodies in great shape and see quick results. Try adding them to your existing exercise routine to see what benefits they can bring to you.

Medicine Ball Workouts