5 Medicine Ball Exercises For A Full-Body Workout

You don’t need to have a state-of-the-art gym in your home to get a killer workout. You can achieve the lean, sculpted body you’re yearning for by using everyday fitness gear that you probably have laying around your bedroom or basement. The trick to getting trim is knowing how to use the equipment effectively and correctly. Every other Wednesday, I’m going to focus on a different piece of fitness equipment and show you how to safely do 3 to 5 moves that will get you the results you want.

This week, we’re showcasing the medicine ball which is a great tool for exercising at home. Make sure to choose a medicine ball that’s a proper weight for you. I recommend using a 8-12 pound ball, depending on your level of strength and comfort. Here are 5 solo moves and 1 bonus partner move that’ll give you a full-body workout.

The Move: Shovel

What it works: Shoulders, Triceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Abdominals

How to do it: Begin by standing with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width while holding a medicine ball directly overhead.  As you inhale, hinge at the hips while maintaining a flat back and bending the knees slightly. Lower your arms to bring the ball between your legs as if you were about to throw it behind you. On an exhale, contract your abdominals and return to standing with the ball overhead. Repeat for twelve to fifteen repetitions. Complete 3 sets.

Safety tip: Make sure to maintain a neutral spine the entire time by hinging at the hips; don’t let your spine round.

Related links: How To Perfect Your Pull-Up

The Move: Chops

What it works: Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, Obliques, Glutes

How to do it: Begin by standing while holding a medicine ball over your right shoulder. As you inhale, pivot your right foot, rotate you right hip inwards and bend your knees slightly to lower the medicine ball down toward your left hip in a chopping motion.  To return to standing, press off your left foot, pivot the left foot and rotate your left hip inward to bring the medicine ball back up to your right shoulder. Repeat twelve to fifteen times and then do your opposite side.  Complete 3 sets.

Safety tips: Make sure the spine remains neutral and does not round. Also, your knee should always be in alignment with your ankle.

The Move: Overhead Throw to Squat

What it works: Shoulder, Triceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, Quadriceps (it’s an all-around calorie burner!)

How to do it: Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart while holding a medicine ball at your chest. Throw the medicine ball straight up over head as high as you are comfortable with. Catch the medicine ball and immediately drop into a squat either throwing the medicine ball on the ground or touching it down. As you return to standing gripping the medicine ball, throw the ball back over head, catching it to drop back into a squat. Repeat 15 repetitions. Complete 3 sets.

Safety tips: Make sure that you are throwing the medicine ball down with a squat-like motion.  Do not round at the spine. If you are using a medicine ball that bounces and are throwing the ball to the ground, make sure you catch the ball on its rebound.

The Move: Medicine Ball-Push Ups

What it works: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Abdominals

How to do it: Begin by getting into a push-up position with one palm on a medicine ball and the other on the floor. Make sure that your core is taut so that your body is in a plank position with both arms slightly wider that shoulder width. On your inhale, lower down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. On your exhale, press away extending both elbows. Repeat 6-8 repetitions before switching the medicine ball to your opposite hand.  Complete 3 sets.

Safety tips: Keep a long neck to avoid any stress to your cervical spine. It may help to focus on a spot 5 inches in front of you on the floor to focus on.

The Move: Medicine Ball Abdominal Twist

What it works: Obliques, Inner Thighs

How to do it: Begin by laying on your back with your arms out to the side in a T position. Place a medicine ball between your thighs just above your knees and raise your legs to table top with shins parallel to the floor and hips and knees at 90 degree angles.  On an inhale, lower your legs slightly to the right making sure that both shoulders maintain contact with the floor. This will most likely be a small motion. Continue to squeeze the medicine ball between your legs to work your inner thighs as well.  As you exhale, pull your abdominals in and together to return to center. On your next inhale lower down to your left and exhale back to center. Repeat for fifteen repetitions alternating sides.  Complete 3 sets.

Safety tips: Maintain contact between your shoulders and the floor throughout the entire exercise. Keep the shins parallel to the floor throughout the exercise with knees bent at a 90 degree angle.

Bonus Move: Medicine Ball Catch (Grab a friend to perform this partner exercise!)

What it Works: Chest, Triceps, Abdominals, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, Quadriceps (another great calorie-burner)

Person A: Stand with feet slightly wider than hips width and knees slightly bent. Hold the medicine ball at your chest with elbows to the side. Throw the medicine ball to your partner by straightening your legs and extending your elbows to complete a chest pass.

Person B: As you catch the ball drop down into a squat and chest pass the ball back to your partner as you return to standing.  Person A will catch and return the ball in the same manner as person B. Repeat for 20 passes. Complete 3 sets.



Safety tips: Use your whole body to throw the ball, beginning from pushing off of the ground. Keep a tight core when you catch the ball.


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Jennifer Lutz is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. She trains private clients around New York City and at Equinox Fitness. It’s her goal to help women live healthier, happier lives. Follow her on Twitter at @JLutzFitness.