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.
The Whole-Body Workout
The simplest and perhaps best use of the medicine ball is making it a part of a circuit training routine, borrowing the best of resistance training and calisthenics training. Here is a sample workout for an intermediate circuit trainer; do one set of each of the exercises and move on to the next. When you are finished, start from the beginning again. Repeat three to five times.
- Run in place for five minutes to warm up.
- Begin with medicine ball alternating push-ups. Get into push-up position, but keep one hand on the ball. Switch this hand between each rep.
- Sit on the floor facing a flat wall with knees bent and back straight for good balance to preform the ball toss. Raise the ball over your head and toss the medicine ball against the wall and catch it on the rebound.
- Sit in the floor with knees bent and your upper body reclined while holding the ball straight out in front of you for balance for the sitting twist. Twist your waist to the sides, touching the ball against the floor to your right, then left. Keep your bottom and feet firmly planted against the floor; the action should be all in your waist.
- Stand straight with a balanced stance, hugging the ball in front of your chest. Slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then straighten up to the starting position. Imagine pushing your heels through the floor.
Second Circuit Training Routine
There are numerous ways to circuit train using the medicine ball. After mastering the other moves, try this workout, or combine the two.
- Begin with lunge crossovers. Hold the medicine ball overhead while you assume a lunge position. As you dip into the lunge, bring the ball down to the outside of one leg. As you lunge again, move the ball to the outside of the other leg. Alternate the dominant leg for the lunge after a set of lunges is completed.
- While standing upright, hold the medicine ball out in front of your body to preform figure eights. Form the shape of the number eight with the medicine ball while maintaining a flexible posture that allows the medicine ball to dip and lift. The wider the stance and the motion of the ball, the more benefit the exercise has.
- Standing upright, move the medicine ball from one side to the other with the arms extended outward for standing twists. A continuous fluid motion with abdominal muscles held in tight will result in the most benefit when doing this exercise.
The Core Workout
The core workout is much quicker than a full-body circuit routine. Among medicine ball workouts, this one is great as a finisher to another sport or some standard cardio workouts.
- Put your hands on the ball and your toes on the floor, so that you're balancing your bodyweight entirely on the ball. Now roll the ball down, towards your feet so that your body is jackknifing upwards. Roll the ball back out again and repeat.
- Sit with your knees bent facing a wall and preform the ball toss, bouncing the ball off the wall and catching it on the rebound.
- Continue sitting on the floor with knees bent and the ball in front of you. Twist your waist from side to side, touching it on the floor as you pause between twists.
Repeat each exercise two or three times.
Medicine balls can be used in conjunction with - or in lieu of - free weights and weight machines. Many exercise enthusiasts like how their muscles work harder to stabilize the motions when using a medicine ball as opposed to training on a weight machine. Several exercises done with free weights and machines can be mimicked with medicine balls, making them ideal for home gyms. Medicine balls can also be a boon to sports-specific training. An obvious example is the baseball pitcher hurling a heavy medicine ball against the wall again and again to develop the arm's strength.
You can do many exercises with the medicine ball in lieu of free weights; try this set of exercises to work several muscle groups.
- Dips: Place your hands on the ball behind you and extend one leg in the air and the other foot on the ground with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Carefully lower yourself toward the ground by bending your arms, then extend to rise again. Repeat for five reps, then switch legs.
- Squats: Hold the ball between your hands as you bend your legs into squatting position.
- Bicep curls: Choose a ball either small enough to hold in your hand, or one with a handle and curl upward while holding your wrist straight and steady.
- Overhead triceps extensions: Grasp the ball with both hands overhead. Bend your elbows to lower the ball behind your head; then extend to raise it again.
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.
Here are some 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.
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.