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You can use medicine ball exercises to target upper and lower body muscles to help you meet your fitness goals.
What are Medicine Ball Exercises
Medicine ball exercises involve using a weighted ball for various physical activities and movements. The exercises can help boost strength, power, stability, coordination, and overall fitness.
Medicine ball exercises can target specific muscles or engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
What is a medicine ball?
A medicine ball is a weighted fitness tool resembling a large, heavy ball. It has a durable outer shell of leather or rubber with sand, gel, or rubber core.
Medicine balls come in various weights, ranging from one pound (0.45 kg) to as heavy as 30 pounds (13.6 kg) or more.
Fitness and athletic training outfits have used medicine balls for centuries. They are a versatile and dynamic way to incorporate resistance and functional movements into workouts.
They provide a functional and dynamic form of resistance training that can benefit individuals at various fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes.
The weight of the medicine ball adds resistance to exercises, helping to challenge your muscles and providing a wide range of training benefits.
You can use medicine ball exercises to target different muscle groups and meet various fitness goals.
You can incorporate the exercises into your fitness regimen to help with core muscle training, rotational movements, squats, lunges, overhead presses, twists, throws, etc.
Medicine ball exercises can help improve strength, power, coordination, stability, and overall athletic performance.
You can use the balls standing, sitting, or lying on the floor, making them versatile and suitable for all exercisers. Thus, you can find them in gyms, fitness centers, and home workouts due to their versatility and effectiveness.
Top Medicine Ball Exercises for Explosive Power and Strength
Medicine ball exercises often involve dynamic, functional movements that mimic real-life activities and may require the upper and lower body to coordinate for successful execution.
Some common types of medicine ball exercises include
Holding the medicine ball while performing squats can add resistance and engage the lower body muscles, such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Throwing the medicine ball with force against a wall, to a partner, or in specific directions can help develop power, explosiveness, and coordination.
Forcefully slamming the medicine ball onto the floor engages the entire body, helping to target muscles like the core, shoulders, and back.
Rotating the torso while holding the medicine ball engages the obliques and core muscles, helping to improve rotational strength and stability.
- Pushes and Presses
Pushing or pressing movements with a medicine ball, such as chest passes or overhead presses, can strengthen the upper body muscles, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Holding the medicine ball while performing lunges can add resistance and engage the lower body muscles.
- Sit-ups and Crunches
Incorporating the medicine ball in sit-ups and crunches into your training can increase the challenge and engage the abdominal muscles.
- Core Exercises
You can perform various exercises that target the core, such as Russian twists, plank rolls, and bicycle crunches with a medicine ball to add resistance and increase activation.
- Plyometric Exercises
Explosive exercises like medicine ball slams throws, or jumps can help develop and build power and athletic performance.
- Partner Drills
You can do medicine ball exercises with a partner by tossing, passing, or exchanging the ball, adding an element of coordination and cooperation.
Below are some top medicine ball exercises to include in your fitness regimen.
Medicine Ball Squat Press
The Medicine Ball Squat Press is a compound exercise that combines the lower-body squat movement with an upper-body pressing motion.
It is an effective exercise for strengthening the obliques and developing rotational core strength. It also engages the hip flexors, lower back, and shoulders.
They are some of the best medicine ball exercises for improving trunk stability and enhancing sports performance. They can also help boost functional fitness.
To perform the exercise,
Hold the medicine ball at your chest, squat down, and as you stand up, press the ball overhead. Lower the ball back to your chest and repeat.
Medicine Ball Slam
The Medicine Ball Slam is a dynamic and explosive exercise that targets the core, shoulders, and upper body muscles.
It is some of the best medicine ball exercises for developing power, explosiveness, and core strength. It can also provide a great cardiovascular workout.
It involves lifting the medicine ball overhead, then forcefully slamming it onto the floor.
You then catch the ball on the rebound and repeat, maintaining a fast and rhythmic pace.
Medicine Ball Woodchopper
The Woodchopper exercise with a medicine ball is a compound exercise that targets the core, shoulders, and oblique muscles. It also engages other stabilizing muscles throughout the body. It involves a twisting motion that mimics the movement of chopping wood.
The movement is one of the best medicine ball exercises for developing core strength, rotational power, and coordination.
For the exercise,
Hold the medicine ball at one side of your body with both hands. Then swing the ball diagonally across your body while rotating your torso. Repeat on the other side.
Single-Arm Medicine Ball Push-Up
The Medicine Ball Push-Up is a variation of the traditional push-up exercise that adds an element of instability and engages additional muscles for enhanced strength and stability.
It targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. Incorporating an unstable surface requires greater activation of the stabilizer muscles, allowing you to enhance your upper body strength, stability, and coordination.
They are some of the best medicine ball exercises for correcting imbalances, helping you build a symmetrical physique.
To do the medicine ball push-ups exercise, assume a push-up position with one arm on the medicine ball and the other on the floor.
Perform a push-up, alternating hands on the medicine ball for each repetition.
Medicine Ball Lunge and Twist
The Medicine Ball Lunge and Twist combine the lunge movement with a rotational twist. Incorporating a medicine ball into the exercise adds resistance and helps engage multiple muscle groups.
It is an effective exercise for targeting the lower body muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, while also engaging the core, obliques, and hip rotators.
It is one of the best medicine ball exercises for targeting and improving leg strength, balance, coordination, and rotational stability.
For the exercise,
Hold the medicine ball at chest level, step forward into a lunge, and twist your torso towards the side of the front leg. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side.
Medicine Ball Overhead Squat
The Medicine Ball Overhead Squat exercise combines the squat movement while holding a medicine ball overhead. It helps challenge your lower body strength, stability, and shoulder mobility.
It is an effective exercise for targeting the lower body muscles, but engages the core and shoulders as well. It can help to improve leg strength, stability, and overall functional fitness.
To perform the exercise,
Hold the medicine ball overhead, squat down, keeping the ball steady and aligned with your body.
Return to your starting position and repeat.
Medicine Ball Mountain Climbers
The Medicine Ball Mountain Climbers is a variation of the traditional mountain climber exercise that incorporates a medicine ball to add an element of instability and engage additional muscles.
The exercise targets the core, shoulders, and upper body muscles while providing a cardiovascular challenge.
They are excellent medicine ball exercises for a full-body workout. They can help strengthen your core muscles, increase stability, and improve functional fitness levels.
For the exercise,
Get into a push-up position with your hands on the medicine ball. Alternate driving your knees towards your chest, mimicking a running motion.
Medicine Ball Sit-Up
The Medicine Ball Sit-Up adds resistance to the traditional sit-up movement with the addition of a medicine ball. It targets the abdominal muscles and the hip flexors.
They are excellent medicine ball exercises for strengthening the abdominal muscles and improving core stability.
Adding resistance with the medicine ball increases the challenge and intensively engages the targeted muscles.
To perform the exercise,
Lie on your back, holding the medicine ball against your chest, and bend your knees.
Then perform sit-ups by curling your torso towards your knees, ensuring the ball stays pressed against your chest.
Medicine Ball Figure 8
The Medicine Ball Figure 8 exercise is a dynamic movement that targets multiple muscle groups, including the obliques, rectus abdominis, shoulders, and arms. It involves passing a medicine ball in a figure-eight pattern around your body.
The motions require coordination, balance, and core stability and are one of the best for building rotational strength.
For the exercise,
Stand with feet at shoulder-width, holding the medicine ball with both hands.
Move the ball in a figure-eight pattern around your legs, bending at the hips and knees as needed.
Alternatively, sit holding the ball with both hands and elevate both feet. Then move the ball in a figure-eight shape between your elevated feet.
Medicine Ball Bicycle Crunches
The Medicine Ball Bicycle Crunches are a variation of the traditional bicycle crunch exercise that adds a medicine ball for extra resistance and intensity.
It is a highly effective core exercise that targets the obliques and rectus abdominis. It can help enhance core stability, tone the midsection, and boost functional fitness.
To do the exercise,
Lie on your back, holding the medicine ball behind your head or in front of your chest. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor. Perform the bicycle crunches by bringing the opposite elbow to the knee while rotating your torso.
Medicine Ball vs. Slam Ball
Medicine Balls and Slam Balls are popular fitness equipment for various exercises and fitness training. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart.
- Construction and Durability
Medicine balls have a leather or rubber outer shell with sand, gel, or rubber filling. They are designed to withstand impact and have a moderate level of durability.
Slam balls are generally more durable than medicine balls. The design of Slam balls, on the other hand, allows them to endure high-impact exercises. They feature a thicker rubber shell with reinforced stitching to handle repetitive slamming motions.
- Weight Range
Medicine balls come in weights ranging from one pound to 30 pounds or more. They are available in incremental weights, allowing users to choose the appropriate weight for their needs.
Slam balls are usually much heavier than medicine balls, with weights ranging from 10 pounds up to 50 pounds or even more. Unlike medicine balls, slam balls have a fixed weight and are not adjustable.
- Bounce and Texture
Medicine balls have some degree of bounce, which can vary depending on the material and construction. They often have a textured surface to provide a better grip, allowing for more controlled movements and exercises.
The design of Slam balls allows for a minimal bounce or no bounce at all. They are to be thrown forcefully onto the ground or against a wall without rebounding, making them great for powerful explosive movements.
- Exercise Variety
Medicine balls are versatile. You can use them for several exercises. They are suitable for strength training, conditioning, and rehabilitation exercises.
Slam balls are for high-intensity exercises involving slamming, throwing, and catching. Slam ball exercises, such as slam ball slams, wall throws, overhead throws, and rotational throws are excellent for full-body power movements.
Exercisers looking for a versatile tool for different exercises may be better off with a medicine ball. However, fitness enthusiasts interested in explosive power exercises with minimal bounce may find a slam ball more suitable.
Benefits of Medicine Ball Exercises
Medicine ball exercises can offer several benefits for exercisers of various fitness levels.
- Strength and Power Development
Medicine ball exercises can help increase your strength and power. The added resistance of the medicine ball can challenge your muscles, helping to promote muscle growth and enhance your force-generating capabilities.
- Dynamic and Functional Movements
Medicine ball exercises often involve multi-joint movements and mimic real-life functional activities. They engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, helping to improve coordination, balance, and movement efficiency.
- Core Stability and Strength
Many medicine ball exercises require you to engage your core muscle to maintain stability and proper form. Exercises like medicine ball twists, Russian twists, or plank rolls can help strengthen your core and lower back muscles.
- Coordination and Balance
Medicine ball exercises require your upper and lower body to coordinate. They also need balance and control.
The dynamic nature of the exercises challenges your proprioceptive capabilities, helping to enhance your coordination and balance.
- Explosive Power
Exercises such as medicine ball slams, throws, and explosive movements can help improve your ability to generate power quickly.
These movements recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve your explosive strength. That can benefit athletes in sports like basketball, tennis, or sprinting.
- Versatility and Adaptability
Medicine balls are available in various weights, allowing you to select the appropriate resistance for your fitness level and goals. You can use them for several exercises to help target different muscle groups and training objectives, making them versatile equipment for diverse workouts.
- Cardiovascular Training
Incorporating medicine ball exercises into your training routine can help elevate your heart rate, providing a cardiovascular workout that can help boost your endurance and fitness levels.
- Preventing Injury and Rehabilitation
You can use medicine ball exercises in rehabilitation settings to aid in the recovery process for certain injuries or to strengthen specific muscle groups.
You can also employ them in injury prevention programs by targeting functional movements and muscle imbalances.
- Time-Efficient Workouts
You can incorporate medicine ball exercises into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or circuit training formats, allowing you to maximize your workout.
The workouts can help burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness, and build strength simultaneously.
- Increased Engagement and Fun
Medicine ball exercises can add variety and excitement to your training regimen.
The dynamic and interactive nature of using a medicine ball can help spice up your training sessions, make them more engaging and enjoyable, and help you stay motivated.
- Raeder C, Fernandez-Fernandez J, Ferrauti A. Effects of six weeks of medicine ball training on throwing velocity, throwing precision, and isokinetic strength of shoulder rotators in female handball players. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):1904-1914. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000847