Medicine ball's are the perfect alternative to classic dumbbells and weights with a focus on dynamic movements, and an outstanding variety of exercises available with just one ball.
Use a medicine ball during workouts and lifts to add an element of resistance training, or to improve coordination and strength. Medicine balls also have physiotherapy and rehabilitative benefits. Since the medicine ball can also address multiple muscles in the body at one time, it is seen as an extremely beneficial aid to a workout.
World Fitness experts have popped together some medicine ball training exercises. The exercises range from simple levels of difficulty (for beginners) to increased levels of difficulty (for advanced users). You can differentiate between two training goals when training with medicine balls: strength endurance and muscle building. When building muscle, you work with a higher weight, but fewer repetitions (8 - 20 repetitions) to build muscle. Strength endurance in turn means many repetitions (20 - 40 repetitions) with a lower weight in order to be able to maintain strength performances over a longer period of time.
Common Mistakes and Advice
You should always pay attention to the correct technique, despite how easy you consider the exercise to be. The core to any exercise is good form, stability and strong posture.
To get started, we recommend training with low weights, so that the risk of injury is kept as low as possible. A lower weight is suggested until you feel comfortable.
8 Medicine Ball Exercises - to get you started!
Medicine Ball Exercises: #1 - Upper Body Rotation (Standing)
It is especially important for beginners to get used to the dynamic training with the medicine ball. Exercises # 1 and # 2 are ideal as they are not too complex, require little technique and are still effective.
The exercises can also be used as examples to warm up the muscles before training. Please make sure that you choose lighter weights.
Execution: First, stand hip-width apart and hold the ball with both hands. Then you turn the ball with stretched arms and shoulder height alternately from one side to the other.
Variation: You can increase the level of difficulty and promote your ability to coordinate and balance by alternately lifting one leg at a time.
Training goal: Strengthening the core muscles and the lateral abdominal muscles.
Set and repetition guide: For warm up, we recommend doing the exercise in about 30 - 120 seconds. For beginners, 10-12 repetitions of 3-5 sets are suitable.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 2 - Trunk Circles
Compared to the upper body rotation of exercise # 1, the medicine ball now moves around the whole body.
Execution: In the starting position you first stand hip-width apart and hold the ball with both hands. Then you guide the medicine ball around your waist in an upright standing position. Make sure that the upper body remains as stable as possible.
Training goal: Strengthening the core muscles and the lateral abdominal muscles.
Set and repetition guide: For warm up, we recommend doing the exercise in about 30 - 120 seconds. For beginners, 8-10 repetitions per side of 3-5 sets are suitable.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 3 - Belly Crunch
The belly crunch is a more advanced medicine ball training exercise. The classic abdominal crunch is an intensive exercise for the abdominal, shoulder and arm muscles. With the additional weight of the medicine ball, the exercise is more intensive. The exercise with an added weight brings with it a certain instability, which forces the core muscles (abdominal muscles and lower back muscles) to balance them.
Execution: In the starting position you are on your back on a soft surface (e.g. fitness mat). The legs are bent, the feet are raised. From this position you straighten out of your abdominal muscles into the seat. The upper body is slightly bent back, the abdominal muscles are in tension.
Warning: The feet should always be on the floor during the movement, otherwise you won't properly work the abdominal muscles.
Tip: The classic belly crunch with the medicine ball consists of throwing the ball over the head of a partner. The ball can just as well be held in this position for a short moment. Then slowly return to the starting position.
Training goal: Strengthening the abdominal, shoulder and arm muscles
Set and repetition guide: We recommend 10 - 12 repetitions of 3 - 5 sets at the beginning. Then you can increase the weight of the medicine ball.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 4 - Russian Twist
The Russian Twist is a very popular variant in abdominal training, and is more advanced with the added weight of the medicine ball. The Russian Twist causes the abdominal muscles on the side to burn because it is a rotating movement.
The exercise can be carried out in two ways:
1. Stretched legs: Sit on the floor with your legs bent, your feet always remain on the floor during the exercise and do not lift. The upper body is leaning back slightly. The medicine ball is held over the lap with arms outstretched and both hands. Then turn your upper body alternately left and right. Make sure that the belly remains under tension and that the back does not get into the hollow back.
2. Floating position: First come into floating position. To do this, lift the slightly bent legs off the floor so that you only touch the floor with your bottom. Find a stable location. From this position you perform alternating left and right controlled torso rotations as in variant # 1. The floating position is the more intensive of the two ways.
3. Increased level of difficulty: In order to increase the intensity of the movement, you should always try to get the weight as close to the floor as possible without actually touching it. In addition, you can of course work with speed, but ensuring form is maintained.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 5 - Pelvic Raise
The pelvic lift is a classic and popular exercise from the abdominals, legs and buttocks area because it particularly strengthens the glutes. There are many variations with which you can increase the level of difficulty (e.g. one-leg pelvic lifting) and thus intensify your training.
1. Set position: First come to the starting position by lying on your back on a soft surface (e.g. a fitness mat). The arms are stretched away from the body and the gaze is directed upwards.
2. Pelvic lift: Now you put your heels on top of the medicine ball and lift the pelvis until your legs and trunk form a straight line. Only your back shoulders, head and arms touch the floor. The body remains extremely tense during movement. Wait a moment before you lower the baking again and repeat the exercise.
3. Increased level of difficulty: The classic pelvic lift on the medicine ball can be intensified considerably, for example by performing the exercise with one leg. You can either lay the leg at an angle on the supporting leg or stretch it out and hold it in this position.
Training goal: Strengthening the rear thigh, buttocks and back muscles.
Set and repetition guide: We recommend that you start with 3 - 5 sets of 8 - 10 repetitions. Then you can increase the level of difficulty.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 6 - Lunge with front lifts
Lunges; a classic in fitness training when it comes to training the buttocks and thighs. With the combination of lunges and front lifts, we're addressing the upper and lower body. We also offer a variation that you can use to address other muscle groups.
1. Set position: At the beginning you come to the starting position by standing hip-width apart and holding the medicine ball in front of your body.
2. Lunges: Now the lunge follows. To do this, tighten your abdominal muscles and take a big step (approx. 60 - 90 cm forward). The hip is lowered to the floor until the back of the leg is almost parallel to the floor. The front leg is at a 90 ° angle! From this movement you carry out the front lifting by lifting the arms with the medicine ball so that the weight is above the head in the end position. You remain in this position for a moment before slowly returning to the starting position from the strength of the leg muscles and changing sides.
Important: You do not work with momentum when lifting the front, but with solid form.
3. Turn your upper body: You can vary the exercise by turning your arms to the side instead of over your head. After taking the lunge, turn your stretched torso to the side of the front leg. You remain in this position for a few seconds before pushing yourself back into the starting position (standing) with the strength of your thigh.
Training goal: Strengthening the buttocks and thigh muscles through lunges, strengthening the shoulder, chest and back muscles through front lifts
Set and repetition guide: Lunges can be particularly difficult for beginner's. We therefore recommend that you start with low weight and few repetitions (8-10 repetitions per leg). The weight should always be chosen so that the movement can be carried out correctly overhead. After you have learned the technique, you can improve (10 - 12 repetitions per leg).
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 7 - Plank on the Ball
The exercise is similar to classic forearm support (planking).
1. Set position: First go to the correct starting position. To do this, go on your knees and place your thighs on the floor. The arms are stretched out on the medicine ball. Make sure your elbows are under your shoulders.
2. Planking: Now you tense your stomach and raise your knees and hips until your body is in a line from head to toe (board). Hold this position, but make sure that your pelvis does not sink down, but that you always stay in a straight line.
3. Higher level of difficulty: To increase the level of difficulty, you can push your feet back and forth or alternately lift one arm / leg. You can also have weights placed on your hips.
Tip: If the balance on the medicine ball is (still) too difficult for you? You can also do the exercise on your knees first and then switch to your feet later.
4. Mountain Climbers with medicine ball: If that's not enough, you can increase the intensity of the exercise by performing 'mountain climbers'. To do this, lift one foot off the floor from the push-up position and bring your knee to your chest. The entire body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the feet. Then you lower your knee again and repeat the movement with the other leg.
Tip: For even more intensity, you can increase the speed of the mountain climbers up to the running. But make sure that your body always remains stable.
Training goal: Strengthening the abdominal muscles, in addition, a large number of other muscle parts are involved in the static holding work (e.g. triceps, shoulder, chest and leg muscles)
Set and repetition guide: There is a lot of room for improvement in the support - at the beginning we recommend a goal of 60 - 90 seconds.
Medicine Ball Exercises: # 8 - Push-ups on the Ball
Finally, we want to introduce you to the push-up on the medicine ball with a couple of variations. Push-ups are probably one of the most effective fitness exercises, since almost the entire body weight is on the upper body during the exercise and an enormous number of muscle groups are involved. Variation # 1 - Classic push-ups on the ball
1. Set position: First come to the starting position. You put your hands shoulder-width apart on top of the medicine ball, which is placed approximately under your chest. Your fingertips point outwards. You raise your knees, the body stays straight like a board.
2. Push Ups: Now the pushups follow. To do this, bend your arms in your elbow joint, with your breastbone approaching the ball. You guide your elbows closely past the ribs because you are doing tight push-ups. Make sure the elbows are not pushed out. Then you slowly move back to the starting position with the strength of your arm and chest muscles and repeat the exercise.
Variation # 2 - One hand on the ball
You can vary the movement by just placing one hand on the ball and the other hand on the floor. The lower arm puts more strain on the height difference, which has a particularly intensive effect on the muscles. The instability has an enormous effect on the execution of the movement - your muscles must compensate for the "wobbling" of the ball and work even more intensely to strengthen the core.
1. Set position: You are initially in the starting position. To do this, support one hand on the floor and the other hand on the medicine ball in the push-up position. Both hands are at shoulder height, the core is extremely tense until your body forms a straight line (the head is held in the extension of the spine).
2. Push Up: Now you perform the push-up movement by bending your arms in your elbow joint and lowering your upper body to the ball. You stay in this position for a moment, then you push yourself back into the set position with the strength of your arm and chest muscles.
3. Change of arm: After a few repetitions, you switch arms.
4. Increased level of difficulty: In order to increase the intensity of the exercise again, the one-handed push-ups can be carried out with a change of hands. To do this, the medicine ball changes hands after each push-up by rolling the ball from side to side in the starting position. The core is tense, the elbows point to the side when the arms are bent.
5. Extremely high level of difficulty: For absolute experts: You can also put both legs on a ball during the entire movement. This requires an enormous amount of coordination and balance.
Training goal: Strengthening the pectoral muscles, the triceps, the delta muscles and the rest of the body.
Set and repetition guide: The classic push-ups should be started with 8 - 10 repetitions of 1 - 3 sets. With one-handed push-ups you can also start with this set and repetition scheme, but you can continue to increase (10 - 12 repetitions per side of 3 sets).
There you have it! 8 exercises to form an effective training plan with the medicine ball. Find the World Fitness medicine ball here.