For many beginners, the list of possible beginner medicine ball exercises is on the long side. With different routines being sold as the ‘ultimate’ from every angle – it can be hard to know where to get started.
This article breaks down those routines into 5 main types. By splitting these into categories and explaining the purpose of each set – you’ll be in a better position to decide which specific medicine ball exercises match with your own goals.
Below you will find videos. These go with the explanations of each group of med ball workout. A quick note: These are chosen from my favourites at YouTube. They are freely available and are not associated with Fitness Review. I’m adding them simply to flesh out the words with demonstrations of the exercises.
Those categories of Medicine Ball exercises are:
Individual routines will fit into one of these types – though there might be the odd outlier. Once you understand the benefits of each, and the body areas they focus on, you are ready to get started. Keep in mind that you need to start slow and build up. Medicine ball workouts can be tougher than you might think.
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When you lunge, you are pushing forward with one leg, knee bent. This is not only tough cardio exercise, it activates leg and core muscles very effectively. With a medicine ball, you have the added core and upper body exercises added in. There are two main lunge ‘passes’ which you can do with your ball.
First, you can pass the ball under your bent leg. You the lunge onto the other knee and pass it back again. Secondly, you can pass above your leg. This involves a twisting motion, which will work your core. Your arms / shoulders get active both ways.
Combining lunges with twists will work even more muscles. What I like about this video, is that the correct form for a lunge is explained, as well as the all-important twisting part!
There are a ton of ways to use a medicine ball to make your crunches and sit ups more effective. The most common way is simply to hold the ball close to your chest and perform either bent or straight leg sit-ups. As you will see from this video from Dave Dreas Fitness, this really is the tip of the iceberg. You can use your ball to twist, which really gives those abs a rigorous workout. You can also move the weight load to your legs for some intensive variations.
One of the big advantages of a medicine ball compared to a regular weight is that you can throw it. With regular weights, you are aware that you need to slow down the lift. This causes you to pull back as you complete whatever movement you are making. With a med ball, you let go! Since you don’t have to pull back, you can put more power into the movement.
Throws can be combined with many other exercises. You can throw against a wall from a short distance and catch the ball again. Throw upwards, or even throw at the end of each sit-up.
Remember to make sure your wall is suitable for throwing before you begin. The overhead throw is a staple of shot-putters. You’ll need to go outside for this explosive exercise.
Here are some examples of medicine ball throws from Joe DeFranco. Note that you might need a bigger ball than for some of the crunch / lunge type exercises. I recommend you skip to around the 5-minute mark for this one – the intro is on the long side.
Another staple of beginner medicine ball routines. The simplest one involves holding a ball and doing a regular set of squats. Here is ball is simply a replacement for a free weight or kettle bell. There are plenty of variations here. Including some burpee-like routines. Regular squats which involve holding the ball above your head or outwards from your body can also add new angles to this old favourite.
Check out this video from trainer Jeremy Shore. I love this squat, which involves explosive movement, plus a throw!
Some medicine balls can get heavy, which makes them excellent candidates for lifting routines. Even lighter ones can help add some resistance training to an intensive cardio routine. It is hard to pick up a ball from the floor in a clean motion. So most lifting routines involve you laying or standing already holding the ball.
Body weight exercises are not quite in the same category. Here we are taking about push-ups and variants. The ball acts as a balancing unit, which forces your muscles to compensate for the instability factor.
You will find some entertaining lift variations on this video from Max Tapper. Once again, work your way up to multiple reps here – lifting too much too soon is never a good idea! Max takes you through two push-up variations, including the alternating medicine ball push-up – and then explains some other variants. What I like best about this video, is that you get and explanation as to why using a med-ball is more effective than without.
There is a lot to like about medicine balls. These have been in use since the days of ancient Greece and are just as effective today as ever. A simple soft and heavy ball can provide as many benefits as a ‘As Seen on TV’ type gadget.
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