Medicine balls have a long history as effective fitness tools. Having evolved far beyond their humble beginnings as animal skins filled with sand, the modern medicine ball offers a wealth of benefits to fitness lovers in all phases of their fitness journey.
What Is a Medicine Ball?
A medicine ball is a weighted ball that can be used for all types of exercises. They’re designed to build strength and coordination, improve health, and help athletes recover from injury. Medicine balls are made of a wide range of materials, including rubber, vinyl, nylon, and leather. They may weigh anywhere from two to 25 pounds and are usually around 14 inches in diameter.
Benefits of Using a Medicine Ball
If you’re wondering why people use medicine balls, there’s no one answer. People use them for a truly wide range of benefits, including:
Developing Body Strength
By elevating circuits or sequences of movement with a medicine ball, you can add weight to already challenging motions. Medicine balls can help fitness buffs develop explosive power for use in other workouts. For example, by incorporating a squat and ball throw together, you will be developing the power of both your squat and your throwing technique.
A medicine ball is an essential addition to any sports warm-up. Athletes often replace their typical ball — such as a basketball — with a medicine ball to boost their speed and increase the accuracy of repetitive movements. Fitness lovers of any level can incorporate this strategy into their workouts. Slowing down any motion with the weight of a medicine ball causes you to focus on the movement and build proper technique. Try this at home by throwing and catching the ball against a rebounder or with a partner. You’ll quickly gain increased coordination and flexibility — along with speed
Achieving a Full-Body Workout
Using a medicine ball kicks your core muscles into high gear. The extra weight will fire up your core regardless of the type of exercise — resulting in an effective full-body workout that will burn more calories and improve strength more quickly over time.
Recovering after Injury
Medicine balls are an essential tool for helping patients recover from injury. Because of the way the balls engage the whole body without placing an excess load on your joints, they provide an impactful but gentle way to help your body build endurance after an injury or setback. Medicine balls are a popular tool for patients recovering from knee, shoulder, and even spinal injuries. During recovery, always consult with your doctor before resuming physical activity.
How To Use a Medicine Ball
While medicine ball exercises are often used for athletes of specific sports and sport-related injuries, they are a powerful tool for anyone looking to boost their strength, overall fitness, coordination, and flexibility. This versatile piece of equipment can be used with a partner or solo. We love that medicine balls can be used for a wide variety of exercises, from Russian twists to crunches to lunges.
Because medicine balls add weight to your workout, it is important to spend time focusing on your form to avoid injury. As with any workout, always start with a thorough warm-up. Here are a few more safety tips:
- Choose a ball with the appropriate weight for your fitness level.
- Try one rep to make sure you’ve chosen a proper weight.
- Be careful not to arch your back or flare your ribcage.
- Always bend your knees and keep a straight spine when bending to pick up a medicine ball.
- For grounded exercises, make sure your lower back is touching the ground before you start.
Medicine Ball Exercises
You might be wondering what to do with a medicine ball, but there is no shortage of effective exercises you can explore! Now that you know the basics about medicine balls, try these eight beginner exercises with a medicine ball:
1. Mountain Climbers
No matter which version you use, mountain climbers offer full-body benefits — but adding a medicine ball can help take your mountain climbers to new heights. To execute mountain climbers with a medicine ball:
- Start on your knees, with both hands on the medicine ball.
- Carefully lift yourself into a plank position with your hands still on the ball.
- Take a moment to find your balance.
- Keep your spine and neck straight and engage your core muscles.
- Push your right knee up to your chest before placing it back down.
- Quickly repeat the motion with your left knee.
- Continue this motion — as quickly as possible — for a 30-second set.
2. Medicine Ball Circles
Medicine ball circles may look and sound simple, but this exercise will set your shoulders on fire in no time. Make the most of this exercise by moving slowly and maintaining constant control. To perform medicine ball circles:
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding the medicine ball directly overhead.
- Breathe in and engage your core muscles.
- With your arms extended, draw a circle with your medicine ball in a clockwise direction.
- Keep your feet in place throughout the exercise.
- Your core should only twist slightly to complete the motion.
- Repeat this motion clockwise eight to 10 times
- Repeat the exercise moving counterclockwise eight to 10 times to complete one set.
3. Overhead Squat
Overhead squats are designed to fire up your core by challenging your stability. By adding the medicine ball for weight, you will gain the added benefit of working out your arms, shoulders, and upper back. Overhead squats require correct form and focus. To achieve an overhead squat with your medicine ball:
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the medicine ball above your head, with your arms aligned with your ears.
- Engage your core.
- Bend your knees and drive your hips back to squat — think about sitting in a chair.
- Squat only to the point that your thighs become parallel to the floor.
- Be sure to keep your knees going straight over your toes, never bowing inward.
- Drive your heels into the floor and squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position.
- Repeat this 12 to 15 times to complete one set.
If you’re looking to develop strength, power, and cardio in one exercise, the medicine ball slam will do the trick. Maximize this exercise by using a heavier medicine ball. To execute an effective medicine ball slam:
- Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the medicine ball directly above your head.
- Bend at your hips, as if to squat.
- Keep your arms extended and slam the medicine ball into the ground with force.
- Pick up the ball and return to your starting position with the ball overhead.
- Repeat 10 times to complete one set.
To elevate your basic push-ups, incorporate your medicine ball. This exercise will provide you with a powerful stretch in your chest as well as added strengthening benefits. To use a medicine ball in your push up routine:
- Start in a standard push-up position.
- Place a medicine ball underneath one hand.
- It’s ok to let your elbows rest in a wider position than a typical push-up, but be careful to keep your spine and neck straight.
- Complete one push-up.
- Switch the medicine ball to your other hand, then repeat 10 to 15 times to complete one set.
6. Russian Twist
Many athletes love Russian twists for their ab-burning qualities, but adding a medicine ball will take this exercise to a new level. To complete the Russian twist with a medicine ball:
- Start seated on the ground with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your feet on the floor.
- Engage your core as you pick up your medicine ball.
- Carefully twist your torso to move the medicine ball to your right side.
- Stop when the ball nearly touches the ground.
- Return to the center before repeating on the left side.
- Repeat 10 times on each side to complete one set.
A standard superman exercise targets your glutes and lower back. This exercise is a challenge even without the medicine ball, but with it you will quickly improve full-body strength. To perform a superman with a medicine ball:
- Lay on your stomach with your arms extended.
- Hold the medicine ball over your head and point your toes toward the wall behind you.
- Keep your neck and spine straight throughout.
- Be sure to keep your core consistently engaged.
- Squeeze your glutes and back muscles to lift your upper body and legs from the ground.
- Pause at the top of the motion for one second by squeezing your muscles.
- Repeat 10 times to complete one set.
8. Side Lunge
Using a medicine ball with your side lunge is a great way to build lateral mobility. To complete a side lunge with your medicine ball:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the medicine ball at chest height.
- As always, engage your core.
- Take an exaggerated step to your right side.
- When your foot makes contact with the floor, bend your right knee,
- Sit back into your hip, as you would with a squat while keeping your left leg straight.
- Drive your right foot into the floor and push back to your starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Repeat 10 times on both sides to complete one set.
Medicine Balls are an ideal way to add variety to your total body workouts, whether held or tossed you can perform a variety of exercises and work muscles in new ways.
Check this out: The Rebounder enables a user to vary the workout to make it fun and intense. Used by professionals, the angle of the rebounder can be altered to suit any workout. Ideal for home or commercial use.
The Rebounder is a perfect addition to circuits, functional training, etc.
Want Help Finding the Right Medicine Ball for You?
When it comes to picking out the right medicine ball to meet your fitness needs, the fitness equipment experts at G&G Fitness can help. Whether you’re looking to build your dream at-home gym up or find an effective new piece of equipment, G&G Fitness will help you find exactly what you’re looking for — contact us today!