Medicine Ball Exercise: A Great Exercise for Everyone

Medicine ball exercise is a surprisingly effective exercise for all ages and fitness levels. These exercise balls can be used for a light workout or a vigorous explosive workout. Medicine ball exercise offers a full body cardio workout including strength training.

The medicine ball, also referred to as an exercise ball or fitness ball, is approximately 14” in diameter and varies from 2 lb to 25 lb with a rubber surface making them easy to grab and keep hold of. This type of exercise equipment is considered to be one of the oldest forms, for it was specifically used for strength training and muscle conditioning; however, back in the time, these exercise balls were made from sacks or animal skins filled with sand or dirt.

The exercise ball is an extremely effective strength training device because of the many different directions it can be used. One can use it forward, backward, up, down or side to side, one can bounce, throw, pass, swing or rotate it; therefore, making the medicine ball especially popular with sport athletes, for many “in game” movements can be repeated and practiced.

When using a medicine ball for exercise, one main benefit is exercising the core or the abdomen, also known as, the body’s centre of power. Strengthening these core muscles is extremely important because they help support the spine, back and abs.

One can use medicine balls to build muscle, train for a sport, assist in rehabilitation, especially if one is restricted to a seat such as a wheelchair, improve coordination including hand-eye coordination or to simply accompany an existing exercise program.

In addition, the exercise ball is ideal when working with a partner, for they can be thrown or passed back and forth. If a partner is not available use a secure wall or a tilted mini-trampoline. There are many exercises one can do with a medicine ball, below only describes some of the more common exercises; however, there are many more. You can also experiment and create your own.

Most Common Medicine Ball Exercises:

All exercises should be performed with your abdomen held in tight and remember to breathe. Do enough repetitions that feels right for you.

  • Wood Chopper: This exercise simulates chopping wood. Simply hold the ball above your head standing with feet apart slighter wider than shoulder width. Swing your arms down between your legs, as if you were chopping wood. Stand up and bring arms back above your head.
  • Circles: Hold the ball above your head, stand with feet shoulder width apart. Move only your arms, draw a large circle and keep your back straight.
  • Russian Twist: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hold the ball straight out in front with arms straight. Keep arms straight, twist to the left, back to the centre and then twist to the right, back to the centre. This exercise can also be done with arms bend and the ball closer to your body.
  • Figure Eight: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hold the ball close to the right ear. Stand straight and move the ball diagonally across your body toward the left knee, up to the left ear and diagonally across the body toward the right knee and back up the right ear.
  • Slams: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Hold the ball above your head and slam it down on the ground using as much force as you wish. Try to catch the ball if you can or you can use a mini trampoline to allow the ball to easily bounce back to you.
  • Squats: Perform a squat using proper form while holding the ball straight out in front of you with arms straight or you may also bend your arms holding the ball closer to your body.
  • Lunge: Perform a lunge using proper form while holding the ball close to your abdomen.
  • Push Up: Kneel on your knees, hold the ball close to your chest and throw the ball to a partner or against a wall and go down to perform a proper push up. Return to starting position. If using a wall, ensure the wall is far enough away so the ball does not bounce back to where you are performing the push up.
  • Crunch: Perform a crunch using proper form while holding the ball close to your chest.
  • Front Lateral Raise: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hold the ball in front of you, down by your legs, arms straight, raise your arms so they are parallel to the ground. Return to starting position.

Medicine balls are inexpensive, take up little space, portable and offer a great workout. Choose a weight that suits your fitness level and intensity. Exercise with a partner for added motivation or include it in your existing exercise routine.

Enjoy the many advantages medicine ball exercise has to offer and stay healthy.

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