8 Medicine Ball Workouts That Will Level Up Your Routine

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

Barpath Fitness/Design by Cristina Cianci

When exercising from home, you can only do so many jumping jacks before your workouts feel monotonous. And when it comes to equipment, it can be easy to get trapped in a loop of free-weight moves. Enter the medicine ball, a weighted ball that can upgrade your workout with strength- and stability-building benefits. “A medicine ball is a great option to use to intensify your main movement patterns,” says health and fitness coach Katie Kollath, MS, CPT. “You can squat with it, deadlift with it, press it, row it, throw it, pass it, and more.”

Medicine balls come in a variety of weights and sizes based on your experience and what kind of exercises you’d like to do. Use a heavier ball to load strength-building drills like squats or deadlifts, says Kollath, or pick a lighter one for power movements like slams. “They’re an effective way to make movements harder both in terms of weight and stability,” says trainer Heather Hamilton, MS, ACSM. “They’re also great for partner work. Two people can roll it, throw it or pass it back and forth.”

Whether you’re working out from home or looking to level up your gym routine, read on to explore the medicine ball exercises these trainers recommend. Pull some favorites to add to your routine or cycle through all of the below for a full-body workout.

You can tailor how many reps you do to your ability level, say Kollath and Hamilton, but three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps per exercise with 30 to 60 seconds rest in between is usually the sweet spot. If you feel any discomfort in your low back during any these exercises, opt for a lighter medicine ball.

Meet the Expert

  • Katie Kollath, MS, CPT, is co-founder of Barpath Fitness and a former USA Weightlifting coach.
  • Heather Hamilton, MS, ACSM, is co-founder of Barpath Fitness and director of fitness at the Colorado School of Mines.
01 of 08

Medicine Ball Slam

Medicine Ball Slams

Barpath Fitness

Medicine ball slams build strength and power in your arms, core, and legs and get your heart pumping, making them a great option for a full-body high-intensity interval training session. Use a less-bouncy, sand-filled ball for these to avoid a rebound to the face, cautions Hamilton. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  3. Lift the ball overhead.
  4. Using your core and arm strength, throw the ball to the ground. 
  5. Squat into your legs with a straight back to pick up the ball or catch it on its bounce.
02 of 08

Medicine Ball Squat

Medicine Ball Sumo Squat

Barpath Fitness

Power up your traditional squat with the added weight of a medicine ball. Holding the ball while you squat can help build extra strength in your legs while also engaging your core and arm muscles. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hold your medicine ball at your chest.
  3. Bend at the knees to lower your hips down and back. Keep your back straight as you lower.
  4. Press into your heels to stand back up.
03 of 08

Medicine Ball Sumo Deadlift

Medicine Ball Sumo Deadlift

Barpath Fitness

Hang on to a medicine ball as you deadlift to help build strength and control in your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. If you feel your torso rounding as you hinge forward, try a lighter weight. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart or wider.
  2. Hold your medicine ball down in front of you.
  3. Bend at the knees. Hinge at the hips until your back is parallel to the ground and your ball is almost touching the floor.
  4. Keeping your back flat, rise back up to standing.
04 of 08

Medicine Ball Good Morning

Medicine Ball Good Morning

Barpath Fitness

Much like a deadlift, good mornings will work your glutes, hamstrings, and back. They’ll also build core stability and challenge your balance. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart
  2. Hold your medicine ball at your chest.
  3. Hinge at the hips until your back is parallel to the ground. Keep a slight bend in your knees to help keep your back straight.
  4. Squeeze your core and glutes to lift back up to standing.
05 of 08

Medicine Ball Overhead Press

Medicine Ball Overhead Press

Barpath Fitness

Lift a medicine ball overhead to develop core stability and strength in your shoulders, chest, and back.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart
  2. Hold your medicine ball at your chest.
  3. Brace your core as you lift the medicine ball over your head. Keep your shoulder blades down your back as you lift to avoid shrugging.
  4. Lower the ball back to your chest.
06 of 08

Medicine Ball Row

Medicine Ball Row

Barpath Fitness

Build your back muscles by rowing with a medicine ball. This exercise will also tone your shoulders and biceps for a full upper body drill. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees. Hinge at the hips until your back is either at a 45-degree angle or parallel to the ground.
  2. Hold your medicine ball down in front of you.
  3. Bend your elbows until they’re in line with the sides of your body to lift your ball to your chest. 
  4. Lower the medicine ball back down.
07 of 08

Medicine Ball Push-up

Medicine Ball Push-up

Barpath Fitness

Level up your standard push-ups by placing a medicine ball under one hand at a time to focus on balance and stability as you work your back, arms, and chest. You can always do this exercise with your knees on the ground for extra support.

  1. Place your medicine ball under one hand. 
  2. Widen your hands to shoulder-width distance or more.
  3. Find a plank pose with your shoulders, hips, and feet (or knees) in line.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground.
  5. Lift back up.
08 of 08

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

Barpath Fitness

Work all 360 degrees of your core with this medicine ball twist. If you notice your back rounding, use a lighter weight and press your heels or feet into the floor for extra stability.

  1. Sit in boat pose. To find boat pose, start by sitting up with your back straight with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Keeping your back flat, lean backward until you feel your core engage. You might also choose to lift your toes, heels, or feet off the ground for an added challenge to your core.
  2. Hold your medicine ball at your chest.
  3. Twist from one side to the other. Hold your medicine ball at the center of your chest in order to twist from the core.
  4. Bonus: You can do this exercise with a partner! Sit back-to-back in boat pose. As you twist, pass the ball to your partner. Then receive it as you twist to the other side.

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