10 Medicine Ball Workouts You’ll Love
With such a variety in workout equipment, machines, and training techniques, no two workout routines should look the same. It’s worth trying your hand at several to see which one you have the most fun with—and one humble yet powerful strength-training tool that’s a must-try is the medicine ball.
The versatility of this weighted ball can make it your next training tool. Also, if you’re wondering how to stay motivated to workout, trying new exercises and equipment like the medicine ball may be the key. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled ten medicine ball workouts that will make planning your next gym session a breeze.
What is a medicine ball, anyway?
Although it’s a staple in any modern gym, the medicine ball is nothing new in the fitness world. These weighted balls date back to ancient Greece. Hippocrates supposedly gave his patients animal skins filled with weighted ingredients and instructed them to throw them around as part of their cure.1 Even gladiators used them in their training exercises.
Today’s medicine balls have advanced quite a bit over their animal skin cousins. Now, the majority have a solid rubber outer surface and vary in size and weight. You can identify them by looking for a workout ball that mostly resembles a basketball in size and feel.
The American Council on Exercise endorses this training tool, confirming that strong medicine ball training can help you improve:2
- the movement
- Athletic skills
Not sure yet? Grab your nearest medicine ball and let’s get to work.
10 Medicine Ball Workout
Whether you’re looking to refresh your warmup routine or work up a sweat with a full-body workout, these ten med ball workouts have something for everyone.
Before you get started, you’ll want to choose the right medicine ball for you. Although they’re easy to use, they’re not necessarily one-size-fits-all—depending on your fitness level, you can choose a light or heavy fitness ball. The point is that you feel your muscles working, but not to stop the exercise several times in each set. Our basic guide is as follows:
- Apprentice – Up to 6 lbs
- intermediate – 6 to 8 lbs
- developed – 12 pounds or more
If you’re using a medicine ball for the first time, focus on maintaining good form, choosing a comfortable weight, and controlling your movements to prevent injury. Once you’ve mastered the medicine ball exercises yourself, you can adjust your number of repetitions and sets to fit your fitness goals. Let’s jump into the first one!
#1 Medicine ball overhead pass
A dynamic warm-up is essential to prevent injury during a workout. In addition to stretching and warming up your muscles, warm-ups increase your blood flow, body temperature, and heart rate, continuously preparing your body for the main workout.3
Either sitting or standing, try this upper body medicine ball workout during your next warm-up routine:
- Begin with a medicine ball at your side, with an engaged core and a straight back.
- Raise the ball above your head and grab it with your other hand.
- Continue this pass-off above your head to bring the ball down and then raise again.
variation: If you are looking for more intensity, you can toss the ball from the hands above your head.
#2 Hamstring extension
Want to exercise your lower body? Another medicine ball exercise to help prepare your body for the upcoming sweat sesh is the hamstring extension. You may feel like you are only in the warm-up section of your training.
Here’s how to complete this exercise:
- Begin in a standing position with the ball held above your head, arms fully extended.
- Lean forward from the hips and keep your back and arms straight.
- Extend one leg forward and your arms down, tapping the ball near your toes.
- Return the ball to the starting position and repeat.
#3 Reverse Lunge and Overhead Reach
A unique variation on the typical lunge, this warm-up exercise can help open the hips and shoulders. Here’s how to perform it:
- Begin in a standing position with a medicine ball between your hands at your waist.
- Bring the ball above your head and drop into a lunge.
- Swing the ball to the opposite side of your forward foot.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
#4 Knee lifts
To get your heart rate up without stepping on a treadmill, grab a medicine ball and tackle this next exercise. Don’t be fooled by its simple appearance—it’s a cremation in disguise:
- Begin in a standing position with the medicine ball above your head.
- As you lower it, lift your right knee so it touches the ball around hip height.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on your left leg, alternating legs.
#5 Triceps extension with partner
A triceps extension is a classic exercise you’ve tried with dumbbells before. But using a medicine ball gives you the option of throwing it to a partner between reps, increasing the intensity—and the fun! Catching exercises are an excellent way to practice hand-eye coordination.
Choose your partner and follow these instructions together:
- Begin in a sitting or standing position facing your partner, holding the medicine ball behind your head.
- Raise the ball over your head and toss it to your partner. Their hands should be raised above their head, ready to catch.
- They will drop the ball back to the same starting position and return it to you.
- Be sure to keep your elbows as close to your head as possible when you hold the ball and keep your triceps engaged as you lower, lift and throw the ball.
#6 Tummy Twists
If you’ve ever worked out with medicine balls before, you’re probably familiar with using them to increase abdominal curls and work your core muscles. If not, you’ll soon find out why. Increase the intensity of your twist with these steps:
- Begin in a seated position with bent knees. You can plant or raise your legs depending on the intensity you want. Lean your upper body back slightly.
- Holding the medicine ball with both hands, twisting from left to right, movement control.
variation: To make it a partner exercise, sit parallel to your gym buddy and pass the ball to each other in between twists.
#7 Medicine Ball Slam
The medicine ball slam is a great exercise that can help strengthen multiple muscle groups in your upper and lower body. This exercise helps you develop strength and power, but can also increase your heart rate, allowing it to even count as cardio. Since this exercise involves hitting your medicine ball into the ground, doing it outdoors — such as in a grassy area — can help reduce noise and soften the impact. Then, follow these steps to practice the overhead slam:
- Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and an exercise ball above your head.
- Slam the ball into the ground just in front of your feet.
- Sitting down to pick it up.
- Bring the ball back over your head and repeat.
#8 Upward Toss
If your home or gym has a wall that’s strong enough to take the impact of a medicine ball, try this upward toss for a twist on the previous slam. It goes like this:
- Begin standing facing a wall, holding the medicine ball to your chest.
- Squat down, and as you come up, use force to toss the medicine ball toward a point on the wall.
- Catch it as it falls and squat, repeating the same movement.
variation: Gym partner feeling a little bored? Grab them to replace your walls so you can work together. They just need to hold their hands above you, ready to catch the ball as you toss it upwards.
Do not turn your back while training. Although the medicine ball-free Superman exercise is challenging on its own, you can add some additional upper body weight to increase the difficulty. This added medicine ball exercise targets the glutes and back.
- Start lying face down on the floor with the medicine ball in front of you.
- Reach forward with your hands to catch the ball.
- Pause for a second and lift the ball and leg as high as they can go.
- Lower the ball and your feet to the ground and repeat.
- Be sure to maintain your neck in a neutral, stable position while performing this exercise to avoid injury.
A set of V-ups with the added weight of a medicine ball is sure to leave you feeling the burn. This exercise combines sit-ups with leg raises to build your core strength and stability. Here’s how to perform them:
- Begin lying flat on your back with a medicine ball in your hands.
- Engage your core muscles to bring your arms and legs up until your body forms a V formation.
- Pass the exercise ball from your hands to your feet and lower your body down.
- Repeat, passing the ball from foot to hand and back again.
Be sure to engage your core and use your breath during this exercise. Engage and exhale as you rise up into a V, and engage and inhale as you lower yourself back down to the ground.
Find your fitness community at Chuz
After a few tosses, twists and turns, the medicine ball will become one of your go-to fitness tools. Don’t worry if you feel uneasy at first. New equipment and exercises can take some getting used to – and if you need some help, you can always count on your local gym.
A Choose Fitness, building an inclusive community is our priority. No matter your fitness experience, level, or goal, Choose Fitness experts want to help you master any piece of equipment and create an exciting routine so you can hit the gym (and not away).
Learn about us Membership plan And search to find your nearest Chuzegym near me” to join the fun fitness community you deserve.
Ani is Vice President of Fitness at Chuz Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- HuffPost. The medicine ball is actually an ancient fitness tool. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/medicine-balls-history_n_5937664
- American Council on Exercise. A medicine ball workout for your clients. https://www.acefitness.org/continuing-education/certified/march-2017/6267/a-medicine-ball-workout-for-your-clients/
- NSMI. Importance of Warming Up Before Sports – Prevention of Sports Injuries. http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/warming-up.html