Medicine balls have been around for over 2000 years. They were, and continue to be a great way to build strength both in localized regions or for the entire body. Here’s a few exercises to try.
1) Rock and Roll Up: This one is awkward at first to coordinate, but hits all the major muscle groups in one powerful move. Lie down, back to the mat, with knees bent. Hold a medicine ball on the ground with arms fully extended overhead. Pull the knees into the chest, preparing to use the weight of the ball to help catapult you to a controlled squat position, then standing…
Next, slowly lower back into a squat, and ease back to the floor, butt first before lying back down.
2) Lunge With Twist: Engage your core while standing hip width apart with shoulders relaxed. Holding a medicine ball a few inches in front of the chest, step forward into a lunge with the right leg. Get deep into the lunge, making sure the front thigh is parallel with the floor, then with extended arms, reach the medicine ball to the right, rotating the torso at the same time. Maintain the lunge and return to center. Come to standing, then lunge with the other leg (and rotate to the left this time). These can be done in place, or moving forward as walking lunges.
3) Squat Press and Throw: With your heels grounded, come to a squat position as if sitting in an invisible chair. Drive through the heels to jump, and throw the ball straight up as high as possible. Let the ball drop to the ground.
4) Reverse Swing: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a medicine ball directly in front of the chest, with the elbows pointing down toward the floor. Lower into a squat, keeping the back flat, and head facing forward. Reach the medicine ball back between the legs. Explosively swing the ball up overhead to the point that it reaches behind the head and neck. Keep the abs contracted as the ankles, knees, and hips extend.
5) Circle Squat: Stand holding a medicine ball at the right hip. Circle the ball overhead toward the left, while stepping out the left leg to into a squat. Circle the ball all the way to the right side of the body, while still in the squat, then step the feet back together, and circle the ball back to the right. Repeat however many times through, then switch directions.
6) Medicine Ball Push-Up: This is a great one for chest, shoulders, and triceps. Starting in a traditional push-up position, toes tucked under, place your palms on the medicine ball, and shift your body weight forward until in plank position. Keeping the core tight, and the head aligned with the spine, slowly lower the chest toward the ball until it nearly touches, keeping the elbows pinned tightly at your sides. Finish the move by pressing upward through the arms until they’re fully extended.
7) Wall Pass: Find the nearest med ball-safe wall. Stand about 3-4 feet in front of it, holding a lightweight medicine ball with both hands. Get into an athletic stance, with a slight bend in the knees, and the core engaged. Bring the ball to the chest, and firmly throw it at the wall being sure to catch the ball on its return.
8) V-Up: Lie flat on your back with your legs extended. Reach the arms overhead with a medicine ball in both hands. Engage the core to lift the hands and feet simultaneously so the body forms a “V” position. At the top of the “V,” pass the ball from the hands to the feet. Squeeze the ball between your feet, and slowly lower the arms and legs back down to the floor. Return to the “V,” and pass the ball back to the hands. That’s one rep.
9) Toe Touch: Lie on the floor, holding a medicine ball in both hands. Extend the arms overhead, with shoulders back and down to the mat. While keeping the legs together, raise them directly over the hips to the ceiling so the body forms a giant “L”. Next, bring the ball overhead while keeping your neck in a neutral position throughout, and reach it as close to the toes as possible. Crunch the upper body to the toes and repeat.
10) Hay Bail: Kneel on the right knee, with the left foot back and toes curled under to form a 90-degree angle. Hold a medicine ball in both hands close to the body while keeping the torso tight, and perpendicular to the floor. Bring the medicine ball toward the right hip, while keeping the rest of the body forward, then transfer it diagonally up and across the body. Hold this position for one count before returning to the start position. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction with the right foot forward.
Try these at your leisure and once comfortable with the form and feel, add in more reps and a heavier medicine ball.