Co-authored with Meredith Steyer
While a medicine ball may look like any other ball, they can be quite a versatile tool to incorporate into your workout routines. Because medicine balls don’t take up a lot of space and are adaptable for use in a wide variety of different types of exercises, they are great addition for working out at home. Medicine balls also come in a variety of weights, sizes and materials, such as canvas, Kevlar and rubber. As the history and use of the medicine ball dates back centuries, its usefulness has withstood the test of time!
I asked Meredith Steyer, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Advancing Fitness, to share her tips on medicine ball training. Meredith explained that, “As a trainer part of my job is to educate, motivate and plan workout programs. I want my clients to be able to have the confidence to take what we do in our sessions and implement those exercises on days when we are not together.” Steyer explains that when using a medicine ball, it is vital to choose the right weight for your personal level and ability. When using a weighted medicine ball or any weight, it is always important to have control of both the weight and your body. If the weight you have chosen makes it hard for you to maintain control throughout the movement, then it’s probably too heavy and you should try a lighter ball. Steyer explains that you get much more out of a movement by doing it with good form rather than by trying to strain using a heavier object than you can safely handle.
Steyer created a medicine ball workout that can easily be done at home! For this routine, she recommended using a canvas medicine ball, especially if you’re a beginner as the rubber medicine balls can bounce back quickly and could hit you if you’re not prepared or accustomed to the reaction of the ball you’re using. She advises to perform each set in order and to repeat each set 3 times before moving onto the next set. You should rest as needed between exercises, but you should find 45-60 seconds should be enough rest in between sets and get ready to “have a ball!”
- Medicine Ball Jumping Jacks: 20 Repetitions
Starting Position: Hold Medicine Ball at chest and stand with your feet together.
Movement: At the same time, jump to separate your legs and press the medicine ball straight over head then return to starting position. Repeat as quickly and as controlled as possible.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to keep your abs tight and stay light on your feet!
- Medicine Ball Slam: 15 Repetitions
Starting Position: Begin with the medicine ball at chest and your feet between hip and shoulder width apart.
Movement: In a fluid motion, press the ball straight over head and extend onto tip toes (if possible) then with straight arms and tight abs throw the ball to the floor just in front of your feet. At the same time as you begin throwing the ball you squat down into a full squat to pick up the ball from the floor and stand to starting position. Repeat as quickly and as controlled as possible.
Pro Tip: Make sure to inhale as you raise the ball over your head and exhale out as you throw the ball down. Avoid bending at your waist to pick up the ball, it is important to fully squat to the ground to pick up the ball.
- Medicine Ball Weighted Squat: 20 Repetitions
Starting Position: Hold medicine ball at chest with your feet between hip and shoulder width apart.
Movement: Keeping your abs tight, hinge your hips and keep your weight in your heels as you start to sit down as if you were sitting in a chair getting as low as possible. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to return to starting position.
Pro tip: If you are new to squats or are nervous about falling, grab a chair and sit down to the chair until you feel comfortable to do the movement without the chair. If you are more advanced and can handle more of a challenge, as you are descending into the squat press the medicine ball away from your chest and then pull it back to the starting position as you are ascending.
- Medicine Ball Single Arm Push Up: 5 Repetitions on Each Arm
Starting Position: Start in a standard toe or knee push up position with your hands on the floor shoulder- width apart. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Now place your medicine ball under your right hand.
Movement: Lower your body towards the floor to at least a 90-degree elbow bend. Return to the starting position by pressing the floor away through the heel of your hand. Repeat on one side before rolling the ball to the left hand.
Pro tip: This movement can be done on your knees or on your toes, just make sure you can maintain core stability and full range of motion.
- Medicine Ball Alternating V-Up: 10 Repetitions on Each Leg
Starting position: Lay flat on your back on the floor with legs straight and the medicine ball resting on your chest.
Movement: Start to lift your shoulders off the ground and press the ball toward your rising left leg. Touch the ball to the shin or foot and as you return to the start position. Once you have hit your starting position immediately repeat movement alternating legs.
Pro tip: It is important to maintain control. If you cannot raise your body up yet start with your left leg bent and complete the 10 repetitions on one side before switching to the other leg
- Medicine Ball Lunge with Overhead Press: 10 Lunges on Each Leg
Starting Position: Stand with your feet together and the medicine ball at your chest.
Movement: Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body toward the ground until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and right knee is just around a 90-degree angle. Once in the low lunge position, press the medicine ball directly overhead and then return it back to your chest. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
Pro tip: Make sure to soften your left knee as well but be careful not to bang your knee on the floor.
- Medicine Ball Pullover: 15 Reps
Starting Position: Lay flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about 6 inches from your glutes hold the ball with straight arms directly over your chest.
Movement: Lower the medicine ball with straight arms towards the floor away from your knees. When you begin to return to the starting position work to engage your lats and triceps as you bring the ball back.
Tip: Maintain a pelvic tilt throughout the movement and keep your shoulders away from your ears
- Medicine Ball Superman: 15 Repetitions
Starting Position: Lay flat on your stomach and extend your arms outstretched while holding on to the medicine ball in front of your head.
Movement: Slowly raise your arms and legs by squeezing your gluteus and engaging your back muscles
Pro tip: Keep your head tilted toward the floor as to not aggravate your neck.