On the surface, a medicine ball doesn’t look tough—it’s just a padded, slightly heavier version of a playground toy. But looks can be deceiving. “Medicine balls can turn a regular exercise move into something way more intense,” says Stephanie Rountree, fitness coach and community director at CrossTown Fitness in Chicago. “They throw your body off balance—especially when you rotate with it or move it overhead—so your core has to engage to stabilize and keep you in place.”
That said, don’t be intimidated by them! “Medicine balls are easier to hold than a dumbbell, barbell, or kettlebell but can still be used to target all the major muscle groups,” says Rountree. Even better is how creative you can get with them: You can swing a ball around in your hands, slam it against a wall or on the floor, and throw it back and forth with a friend. Get started with these five medicine ball exercises.
5 Medicine Ball Exercises Anyone Can Do
These moves are designed to target multiple parts of your body. Incorporate them into your workouts for an all-over burn.
MEDICINE BALL BALANCE
Targets: Hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, core, back
Stand tall on your right leg, with left knee bent and left foot off the ground. Hold the medicine ball overhead in both hands for 30 seconds. While continuing to balance on your right leg, move the ball over into your right hand, hold for 30 seconds, then move it overhead into your left hand, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire process while standing on your left leg. Repeat three times on each leg.
MEDICINE BALL LUNGE WITH TWIST
Targets: Quads, glutes, obliques, chest, shoulders
Stand tall, holding the medicine ball in both hands at chest level. Step forward into a lunge with your left foot, making sure your knee doesn’t go past your foot and press the ball forward so that your arms are straight. Once there, twist to the left as far as you can, keeping your arms extended. Return back to center. Repeat twisting to the left for 30 seconds. Stand up, lunge forward with your right foot and repeat twisting to the right side twice for 30 seconds. Do three sets with each leg.
MEDICINE BALL SQUATS
Targets: Quads, glutes, core, shoulders
Stand tall, holding the medicine ball in both hands at chest level, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Squat down as if you’re sitting back in a chair (reach your butt back behind you). Keep weight in your heels, chest up, and knees behind toes while dropping your hips down until they’re parallel with your knees. While squatting down, engage your core and press the medicine ball out in front of you. Push through the glutes and stand back up, bringing the ball back to your chest. Do 30 seconds on, followed by 30 seconds of rest, and repeat three times.
MEDICINE BALL SQUAT WITH STRAIGHT-ARM EXTENSION
Targets: Quads, glutes, shoulders, back
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and medicine ball in both hands down in front of your hips. Squat down, keeping chest up, and tap ball to the floor in between your feet. Push through glutes, stand back up, and simultaneously swing arms up towards the sky (keep them straight the entire time). Do 30 seconds on, followed by 30 seconds of rest, and repeat three times.
MEDICINE BALL WOOD CHOP
Targets: Quads, glutes, obliques, shoulders, back
Stand tall with the medicine ball in both hands in front of your chest. Lunge forward at an angle with your left foot, while simultaneously reaching the medicine ball towards your toes. Push off your left foot to stand back up and pivot on your toes while swinging medicine ball diagonally (it will end up over your right shoulder). Repeat for 30 seconds on this side, then rest for 30 seconds. Perform the movements for 30 seconds on the opposite side (lunging forward with your right foot and swinging ball over your left shoulder), then rest for 30 seconds. Do three rounds.
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.