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December 01, 2021
Do you want to crush your core, strengthen your entire body, improve flexibility, and challenge every single muscle in your body? Well, medicine ball exercises are a great way to put you one step closer to your fitness goals. They are extremely versatile and can be used in so many ways.
The simple and low impact movements provided by medicine balls are perfect for beginners, or those recovering from injury, as well as more advanced trainees who want to work on more functional skills and movement patterns (i.e. rotation and anti-rotation). Plus, much of medicine ball training is pretty easy to learn!
When you learn how to effectively perform the exercises, you can get an incredible full-body workout in using only a medicine ball.
Below you'll find everything that you need to know about medicine ball exercises, which includes the benefits, uses, and programming, as well as 9 awesomely beneficial med ball exercises and 2 sample workouts using those exercises.
More than likely, you’ve seen a medicine ball in the gym before, whether it was on the rack, in someones hand during a core exercise, or someone slamming the ball down on the ground or against the wall over and over again.
This unique weighted exercise tool is made of leather, vinyl, plastic, or rubber and is filled with sand, gel, or some other type of synthetic material. They come in a variety of sizes and weights.
There are four main types of medicine balls - a dual grip ball, slam ball, soft wall ball, and classic rubber ball. Each ball serves a purpose and puts you one step closer to your fitness goals - some are designed to bounce when thrown against a surface, while others will have no rebound.
You’re able to perform explosive, functional exercises with a full range of motion that develops core strength and mobility through anti-rotational, rotational, and power movements.
Let’s see just how effective using a medical ball can be.
Note: A slam ball is a type of medicine ball but its make up allows it to be slammed without bouncing. The slam ball is arguably more versatile as it can be used in all the same ways as a medicine ball, but typically medicine balls come in lighter weights which is ideal for certain exercises, so there are pros and cons to both. We will be using both a traditional medicine ball and a slam ball for these exercises.
Yes, medicine ball workouts can be very effective. You can complete full-body workouts that will burn calories, improve strength, endurance, and stability. The explosive movements will even help relieve stress too, as you slam the ball against the floor or wall as hard as possible.
If you’ve suffered an injury such as rotator cuff, ACL knee injury, or hamstring pull, the movements performed using a medicine ball are effective for getting you eased back into the gym. Generally speaking, it is a much more low impact form of training (after all, no heavy loads will be placed on your spine AND you can easily bail from any exercise at any time).
Here are some more benefits of medicine ball exercises:
Functional Multi-Planar Movements
Throwing, twisting, and tossing allow your body to move in every plane of motion, improving everyday movements. These low-impact movements reduce joint pain, increase strength, and increase flexibility.
With the med ball exercises below, you will be building strength through all planes of motion, as well as working on anti-rotation and rotation for core stability.
Engage More Muscles
Nearly all of your muscles are engaged when using a medicine ball through balance and coordination.
Body Works As One Unit
While our bodies are made up of many muscles, they should all work as one. Unlike a lot of isolation exercises done with dumbbells, medicine ball training teaches you how to use your muscles together to create one powerful unit.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, strengthen your core, improve your golf swing, gain power in your basketball movements, or mix up your workout routine, there are a ton of medicine ball workout routines that will help you to achieve them. Here are some of the best ways to use medicine balls to achieve these results,
Medicine balls are effective for core training. By adding a medicine ball to sit-ups, crunches, and other core exercises, you can develop and strengthen your abs. When adding increased resistance to your upper body through these traditional movements, you increase your result and achieve a better workout. This type of training transforms your core workout.
Aerobic workouts help to maintain cardiovascular fitness while increasing stability and can easily be achieved with medicine ball exercises. You’ll engage the muscles of the lower back, shoulders, and hips while focusing on your core to tighten your stomach muscles throughout the exercises. Because you will not be standing in place, you’ll also improve your balance.
You can dramatically improve your strength by incorporating a medicine ball into your training. Whether you’re doing push-ups, planks, rotator cuff exercises by simply adding a medicine ball you will dramatically increase the effectiveness and strengthen of your muscles.
Using a medicine ball increases your range of motion which aids in stretching the muscles. The major benefit to this is that it will help your muscles to grow and increase flexibility. This can be extremely effective for the lower back and hips, hamstrings, shoulders, and abdominal muscles.
Incorporating full-body circuit training with a medicine ball filled with explosive exercises will increase your heart rate and burn fat. Also performing, HIIT routines will help with losing weight and building strength. Building muscles helps you to effectively burn more fat, increase your metabolism and aids in losing weight faster.
It can be intimidating using a kettlebell or dumbbell, replacing the movements with a medical ball helps transitioning into learning crossfit and lifting easier. You’ll learn to move smaller loads while perfecting your technique.
Sport Specific Movements
Using medicine balls to improve sport specific movements. By using light loads to increase movement patterns, and heavier loads that target tissue and neural pathway aid in improving your performance in any particular sport or activity, Improving your golf swing, improving your free throws to increasing your speed with various movements using medicine ball exercise.
There are a variety of factors that play a part in choosing the right size/weight medicine ball - key to a successful medicine ball workout is to use a size/weight that provides enough resistance while encouraging speed. You’ll want to choose a medicine ball weight that’s just heavy enough to provide resistance but not so heavy that it hinders your speed and athletic motion.
That said, it depends on the exercise, as some exercises can be done in a similar manner to free weights (like squats, where you'd want a little heavier of a ball, yet can still be done with a lighter weight).
A good rule of thumb is to vary the weight used by the type of exercise you are performing. Choosing lighter weight for faster, more explosive movements. And heavier weight for slower, strength-focused exercises.
For men starting off with a 6-12 pound medicine ball for a broad range of exercises. 6lbs being best for beginners, while 12lbs for more advanced trainers. For women, starting with a 4-8 pound medicine ball with the lower weight for those new to fitness. These weight ranges for both men and women should offer the resistance to cover a wide range of exercises.
We’re all at different levels of strength and training levels, so these recommended medicine ball weights may need to be adjusted. So the best way to choose the proper weight based on your strength is to choose a heavy enough weight that allows you to have control, accuracy and full range of motion throughout the movements of any exercise you are doing.
You’ll use a heavier medicine ball when performing explosive exercises and lighter medicine ball for speed exercises. But what’s more important than the weight that you choose is your form and technique. Both are far more important than how much weight you're using or how many reps you’ll perform, so choosing a lighter weight is always suggested when starting out.
Below are the 9 med ball exercises. After we run through them, we will explain how to create effective workouts with medicine balls and provide you with some sample workouts using the following exercises.
We recommend watching this video first, which has a demo with clear instruction of all the exercises:
This is a great warmup exercise that should be performed using a lighter ball, you’ll feel the stretch in your triceps, shoulders, and core.
Here’s how to perform the Around the World exercise:
Grab the slam ball and get ready for an explosive core exercise with the overhead slam. This may seem like an upper body workout, but it’s actually a full body workout. Medicine ball slams are designed to enhance your power, strength, athletic performance, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and core strength.
Here’s how to perform the Overhead Slam:
The rotational slam with the medicine ball helps you develop rotational power and coordination while targeting the abs and lower back and working the shoulder flexion.
Here's how to perform the Rotational Slam:
Adding the rotation with the medicine ball takes this traditional lunge exercise to another level by increasing the resistance. Lunges might be a lower body exercise, but once you add the rotation into it with the medicine ball, you target more than just your calves, hamstrings, and quads - and you’ll also hit your obliques, shoulders, and lats.
Here’s how to perform the Alternating Lunge with Rotation:
Plyo Lunges is effective at targeting your glutes, hips, legs, lower body, and upper legs with explosive force. By adding in the medicine ball with the rotation, you’re also working your core muscles, upper back, and arms as well.
Here’s how to perform the Plyo Lunge with Rotation:
The medicine ball Russian twist targets your abdominal muscles and strengthens your core, including the rectus abdominis. The twisting motion aids in building explosiveness that aids in improving athletic performance and everyday daily movements.
Here’s how to perform the Russian Twist:
Overhead squats aid in everyday movements from hauling groceries to lifting your kids. It will strengthen your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders.
Here’s how to perform the Overhead Squat:
This is an excellent alternative to the overhead squat if you have difficulty due to shoulder mobility or lack of strength.
Here’s how to perform the Front Squat:
By adding the medicine ball to a push up, you transform it into an advanced movement that will increase strength, power, and endurance in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Here’s how to perform the Alternating Push Up:
Slams are some of the most common types of exercise with medicine balls (or slam balls). Using a heavier weight for any type of slam while maintaining proper form is the key to receiving the many benefits from these. Females can begin with 10-25 pounds and males 20-40 pounds, but these can be adjusted depending on your strength. These movements are brutal and perfect for cardio, burning calories, strength training, and core training.
Creating a medicine ball workout will be determined based on what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to increase your speed, lose weight, or increase your strength. These things will help you to choose the right exercises and routine whether it’s strength training, functional training, or weight loss. The weight and reps that you choose will put you one step closer towards your goal.
Here are some of the different types of workouts that you can perform:
You’ll want to start with a ball that is heavy enough to feel but light enough that you can maintain control, accuracy, and range of motion when performing quick and explosive movements. This is why with this type of training, we suggest starting with a 4-8 pound medicine ball.
While the weight is important it’s the intensity that you put into each movement that will aid in increasing your speed and force.
When it comes to progression you’ll want to increase intensity rather than weight, increase reputations, and increase the amount of weight used when you reach maximum reputations.
When it comes to strength training you’ll want to use heavier weighted medicine balls, and perform compound movements such as squats, slams, and throws. Beginning with a 10 to 12 pound weight is probably a good starting point. The goal is to push yourself while maintaining proper form and control throughout the movements. If you’re not able to control the movements then the weight is heavy
Medicine balls are a powerful tool for core training for both beginners and experienced. You don’t need much weight to get the benefits out of core movements. For beginners, start with just 4-8 pounds, for advanced trainers, choose 8-12 pounds. Doing high reputations with moderate weight is best for core training.
Weight Loss Training
HIIT or high-intensity interval training has been proven to burn fat, strengthen muscle, and improve endurance. This steady state of cardio can be achieved with medicine ball exercises. The benefit of this type of training is the intensity that you put into each set which is usually timed, choosing a weight that is challenging but allows you to get through the set time. Begin with 8-12 pounds, and increase intensity before increasing weight.
Your core will be on fire after performing four rounds of these medicine ball exercises:
MEDICINE BALL WORKOUT #2
Repeat for 3-4 sets each, with short rest between each set. Do one exercise for all sets before moving on to the next.
There’s no denying that incorporating medicine ball training into your routine can transform your fitness regardless of what level you’re at - beginner, intermediate or advanced. Or if you’re recovering from an injury.
It’s an excellent form of strength and conditioning training that will dramatically improve your health, weight loss efforts, explosive power, and increase your speed. If you’re looking to enhance coordination, agility, balance, and speed then medicine ball exercises are just what you need.
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