Arguably the best way to give your fitness regimen a boost is to add resistance to your exercises, and using a medicine ball is a great way to do so. While these workout balls come in many weights, all of the following exercises can be done with a nice three- or five-pound ball. (Perfect for those who are performing these exercises for the first time.)
Here are seven medicine ball workouts you should be doing.
1. Around the worlds
Looking for a starter exercise that will whip your upper body into shape? Look no further than this exercise, which targets every muscle from your torso to your fingertips. Following the direction of this easy-to-follow YouTube video, start with your feet planted just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent for support. Hold the ball down in-font of you with straight arms. Keeping your knees bent, engage your core as you circle the ball up over your head and back down again, creating a complete circle for one repetition. Try one set of 10 reps circling in each direction.
2. Sumo squats
For seriously strong buns and thighs, try sumo squats. Womens Health & Fitness explains this exercise also targets that difficult inner thigh area. Start with feet shoulder width apart, your arms hanging freely as you hold the ball down in-front of you. Exhale as you stand up straight and raise the ball over your head. Return to starting position to complete one repetition. Try three sets of 15 reps, taking a 30-second break in between. Add more reps when it’s time for you to up the difficulty of the exercise.
3. Chopping wood
This exercise is a full-body blast. (Not to mention that you’ll be breaking into a sweat after just a few repetitions.) As this video demonstrates, you will start in a similar position as you do for around the worlds, then twist to one side and hold the ball down by your calf. Next, rotate your torso as you lift up and mimic throwing the ball over your opposing shoulder, then return back to start to complete one rep. Start with 12 to 15 on each side, then add five reps as you need to increase the difficulty.
4. Extension passes
The extension pass is different from many other medicine ball workouts in that you do it while lying on your stomach. But don’t be fooled — this exercise will give you just as much of a workout as a standing exercise.
Follow Shape‘s lead and start on the floor with your arms and legs extended so that your body forms an X shape, with the ball next to your right hand. Extend through your back to lift your chest and thighs off the ground. Keeping your body from the chest down as stationary as possible, roll the ball from your right hand to your left, and back again. Shape recommends doing 20 passes before returning to the ground to take a breather.
5. Mountain climbers
Add a ball of any weight to this exercise and the already-effective mountain climbers get a serious boost. “The medicine ball mountain climber is a dynamic body weight exercise that increases stability, strength, and stamina throughout your entire body. This exercise also improves cardiovascular endurance,” explains Muscle & Fitness. As this video demonstrates, you’ll perform your mountain climbers with your hands stabilized atop the medicine ball.
6. Ball roll push-ups
Start in a plank position, with your right hand on the floor and your left hand atop the ball. Inhale and lower yourself into a push-up, then exhale and push back up to plank position. Now, roll the ball from your left hand to your right hand and repeat. One push-up equals one repetition, and Women’s Health recommends doing six to 10 reps per set. (Of course, you will want to do an even number of reps so that both arms get equal workout time.) Start with one set — which will surely have you sweating — and add another as the exercise becomes easier.
7. Side-to-side ball crunches
Probably the most well-known medicine ball workout, the side-to-side crunch is a core workout that everyone can benefit from. Verywell breaks down for us. You’ll want to lie on the floor with your knees bent — ready to pull up into a crunch — while holding the ball at your chest. Lift up into a crunch position and keep your shoulders off the floor, then swing the ball across your body to one side. Return the ball to in-front of your chest before you exhale and lower your shoulders back to the floor to complete one repetition. Start with 12 reps per set, alternating sides.