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18 Medicine Ball Exercises for Full Body Workout

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The medicine ball is one of the most underrated pieces of gym equipment out there. Many people spend years in the gym and don’t give a second thought to the medicine balls laying around. However they offer massive variety and there are numerous medicine ball exercises that will improve your fitness.

The medicine ball is a firm rubber or leather ball ranging in weight. Due to its portable size, it is great for use at home and training every part of your body without going to the gym.

Due to its size, the medicine ball is a versatile piece of equipment that gives you more functionality at home or in the gym. In this article, we dive deeper into the fundamentals of the medicine ball and find out why you should use it. We look at the exercises you can perform and give you some tips to get the most out of your medicine ball training.

18 Medicine Ball Exercises for Full Body Workout Main

Medicine Ball Exercises for All Body Parts Explained

Med ball exercises can be done with various balls, which range from 2 – 20 pounds. To ensure you get the most out of weight ball exercises, we have broken it down to make it much easier for you to know what to do and how.

Top 4 Full-Body Medicine Ball Exercises

If you start experiencing knee pain during your workout, there’s a high chance you’ve torn your meniscus or injured your MCL. Here are two of the most common knee pains from fitness.

1. Medicine Ball Squat Toss

Squats are one of the best workouts you can do for the lower body. However, the medicine ball squat toss adds additional strain on the upper body. By performing the medicine ball squat, you are targeting the lower back, quadriceps, shoulders, and core muscles. These combine to give you a full workout. Here’s how to perform it:

  • You will start the exercise with your feet at hip-width apart and the medicine ball in both hands in front of your chest. To start the movement, drop down into a squat position with the ball touching the ground. Next, you will launch yourself up in an explosive movement from the squat whilst tossing the ball up in the air.

As the ball comes down, you should catch it at chest height before starting again.

2. Cross Behind Front Raise Medicine Ball

The Medicine ball cross behind front raise is another full-body exercise that targets a variety of muscles in the body. It relies heavily on engaging the core and using the legs in the same ways as you would when performing a backward lunge. This is a hard one to master, but this is how to perform it:

  • You will once again start with your feet at hip-width apart. The medicine ball is held in both hands, resting over your crotch. To perform the exercise, you will cross one foot behind the other, creating the position of a lunge.

Simultaneously, you will lift the medicine ball in front of your body, while keeping your hips facing forward. Return to your starting position and repeat for the other leg.

3. Medicine Ball High-To-Low

Another great full-body workout is the medicine ball squat which takes the ball from high to low. This exercise involves squatting and targets a variety of muscles in the upper and lower body.

The starting procedure involves standing with your feet at hip-width apart. You will be holding the ball with two hands over one of your shoulders. To perform the movement, you will bend your knees. Next, you turn the ball from the top down to the bottom of the opposite ankle. The exercise ends when you stand back up and return the ball to above the shoulder.

4. Medicine Ball Slam

One of the most unique exercises in the gym is the medicine ball slam. The exercise involves slamming the medicine ball into the ground as hard as you can. If performed correctly, it will target the lower back and core muscles. However, your shoulders are also directly targeted due to the ball being slammed into the ground. Here’s how to perform it:

  • Like many exercises, you also start with your feet at hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and hold the ball overhead with both hands. You will start the movement by slamming the ball into the ground as hard as you can.

Make sure to engage the core, upper back, and glutes to get a full-body experience. Once you catch the ball, return to your starting position and repeat.

Full-Body Medicine Ball Workout

A 2022 study might not have found conclusive evidence suggesting full body exercises are better than split body training programs. It is more time efficient.

If you understand these exercises and you want to jump right in, we have a basic program for you to start with. It should only take about 30 minutes of your day but should give you a full-body workout. Here is what you can do:

ExerciseRepetitionsSetsRest Between Sets
Medicine Ball Squat Toss10320 seconds
Medicine Ball High-To-Low10 on either side330 seconds
Medicine Ball Slam10320 seconds
Cross behind front raise10 on either side320 seconds

Top 6 Upper Body Medicine Ball Exercises

1. Medicine Ball Floor Toss

The medicine ball floor toss is a very similar exercise to the bench press exercise. Much like the bench press, it also directly targets the chest muscles, with additional effect on the triceps. Here is how to perform it:

  • You will start by lying flat on your back and bending your knees, with your feet flat on the ground. Hold the medicine ball on top of your chest, like you would when you use a bar. With one explosive movement, push the ball up as hard as you can. The ball should leave your hand and go up in the air. Next, you will catch the ball and repeat.

2. Extension Passes

The extension passes are a great exercise for training the shoulders and much of the upper body. In fact, this exercise targets almost all parts of the upper body. When performing extension passes, you will be training the arms, shoulders, lower back, and chest muscles. Here is how to perform it:

  • You will start the exercise by lying down flat on your stomach in an extended “X” position with your arms and legs. Once in position, you can lift your arms and chest off the floor, whilst keeping your legs in position. Start with the medicine ball in one hand and roll it to the other hand. You can repeat by rolling the ball to each hand.

3. Bent-Over Rows

Bent-over rows is a highly beneficial exercise and it is traditionally performed with the use of a bar. However, a medicine ball does make a great alternative for those that don’t own a barbell at home. The exercise targets all the same body parts as the bent-over row. It might also be a bit easier to perform for some:

  • To perform bent-over rows, you will start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent. Once in position, you can bend over 45 degrees and grab the medicine ball, remembering to keep your back straight.

With the ball in your hands, you will pull the ball up towards the chest, before slowly releasing. Repeat after each repetition.

4. Bicep Curls

Bicep curls will be one of the most common exercises you perform in the gym. The exercise is often done with a barbell or dumbbell and focuses directly on targeting the bicep muscles. It is one of the best upper body workouts with a medicine ball you can do almost anywhere.

For the bicep curl, you will stand with your feet at hip-width apart. Next, you should hold the medicine ball in front of the chest, using both hands. Once in position, you can slowly lower the ball to the floor, until your arms are fully extended. To complete the exercise, you need to curl the ball up, making sure to not move your elbows. Repeat as needed.

5. Tricep Extensions

When it comes to the muscles in your arms, your biceps and triceps are two of the most important muscles. Tricep extensions are another great exercise you can perform with the medicine ball. Once again, it is easy to do and can be done anywhere, you only need access to a medicine ball of some weight.

To perform the tricep extension, you should stand with your feet at hip-width apart. Hold the medicine ball with your arms extended over your head and your elbows next to your ears. To start the movement, you will lower the ball down behind your neck, keeping your elbows in place.

The idea is to get a 90-degree angle from your arm to your elbow. Once done, you can extend your arms back up to the starting position and repeat.

6. Medicine Ball Rolling Push-Ups

The medicine ball rolling push-ups is a unique exercise that integrates the medicine ball into the traditional push-up. This combines with the plank that often targets the core to give you an exercise that will target numerous muscles. Here is how you can perform it:

  • You should start in a traditional push-up position. One hand should be on the medicine ball, whereas the other hand is on the floor. Roll the ball out to one side to ensure your arms are long. The movement starts with your chest being lowered to the floor.

Much like a push-up, you will bend the elbows and keep the body straight. Once you are down, you should push yourself up and roll the ball to the other hand before repeating this medicine ball training routine.

Upper Body Medicine Ball Workout

If the upper body is something you would want to train, the following is a quick program that could help you make some gains and see results in the gym.

ExerciseRepetitionsSetsRest Between Sets
Medicine Ball Bent-Over Rows15330 seconds
Medicine Floor Toss15330 seconds
Medicine Ball Tricep Extensions15330 seconds
Medicine Ball Bicep Curls15330 seconds

Top 4 Lower Body Medicine Ball Exercises

1. Sumo Squat

The Sumo Squat is one of the most unique and functional exercises to be performed with the medicine ball. It is a basic squat movement, which targets the quadriceps and the glutes. It can be performed virtually anywhere you have space. With so many variations of the squat, it is one of the most effective lower-body exercises.

To perform this workout, your legs should be at hip-width apart. You should hold the medicine ball in both hands, in front of your chest. If you are in position, you will lower down into a squat before pushing yourself back up. Repeat as needed.

two women making sumo squat with medicine balls

2. Medicine Ball Hip Thrust

Many people perform the hip thrust using a weighted plate or barbell. While a 2018 study shows the barbell hip thrust having a summative effect on speed athletes, the med ball version offers more versatility. The medicine ball version of the hip thrust can help you maintain the gap between your knees. This is ideal for having the optimal positioning for an effective workout.

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For the medicine ball hip thrust, you will place the medicine ball between the knees when lying on the ground with your knees bent. To start the movement, you will thrust your hip toward the ceiling and lower back down to complete the repetition. Repeat as needed.

3. Medicine Ball Lunges With A Twist

The traditional lunge and split squats are proven to increase the quality of life among non-athletes according to a 2014 study done by Turner and Barker in 2014.

However, another great use of the medicine ball is to perform traditional lunges. However, you can spice up the workout by adding a twist in the middle of the movement. This will target the hip flexor muscles and lower back while targeting the traditional muscles from the lunge.

To perform this workout, you will start with the traditional lunge position and have your feet hip-width apart. Once in position, you can step forward and drop the back knee into a lunge. If you are comfortable in the lunge position, turn the upper body to the opposite side of the leg that is in front with the medicine ball in both hands. Return to the starting position and repeat as needed.

man making lunges with twist with medicine ball

4. Medicine Ball Jump Squats

There are so many variations of each exercise, we have gone for the more common medicine ball jump squat. The jump squat is very similar to other squat movements and has the same setup as the sumo squat. However, this exercise is a bit more explosive.

To start, your feet should be at hip-width apart once again. You can hold the medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest. The movement starts by dipping down into a squat of 90 degrees. However, when you come up, you will launch yourself and lift your feet off the ground.

Lower Body Medicine Ball Workout

Many of the above-mentioned exercises can all be combined to create a circuit. However, beginners with limited experience might want to try the following routine.

ExerciseRepetitionsSetsRest Between Sets
Medicine Ball Jump Squat15330 seconds
Medicine Ball Sumo Squat15330 seconds
Medicine Lunges With Twist15330 seconds
Medicine Ball Hip Thrust15330 seconds

Top Core and Stability Medicine Ball Exercises

1. Medicine Ball Plank

The medicine ball plank is an effective workout to target your balance. Not only does it target the complete core, but the shoulders can also be slightly affected. Much like the normal plank exercise, the medicine ball plank places plenty of emphasis on balance and core strength.

This workout starts when you set yourself up in the plank position. However, your hands will be directly placed on the medicine ball and your shoulders will stabilize. Once in position, contract your core and keep it tight whilst holding your body in a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds and rest.

2. Mountain Climbers With Med Ball

Traditional mountain climbers are a very effective workout. However, the element of the medicine ball will add additional value to the workout. It will offer you extra focus on stability. The workout also targets the core, legs, and shoulders.

This exercise is started the same way as the plank. You will set yourself up with both hands on the medicine ball. To start the workout, bring one knee up toward your chest, while balancing yourself with the other. Repeat for 15 reps on each leg.

woman making mountain climber with medicine ball

3. Medicine Ball Russian Twists

Russian twists are a great exercise that targets the core. Whilst the focus of this exercise is to focus on the core, it also targets the shoulders and upper body. However, when you add a medicine ball, you put more strain on your shoulders. It would depend on the weight of the medicine ball you use. Here’s how to perform medicine ball Russian twists:

For this exercise, you start in a seated position with your knees bent. You will lift your feet off the floor, holding the medicine ball in front of your body. Ultimately, you are resting your lower back. To start the movement, you will twist the ball to your hipbone on one side.

Remember to keep the body as straight as possible. Once you reach the side of the hipbone, turn to the other side and repeat. This one repetition. Repeat for a minute and rest for 20 seconds.

Tips From the Champ

Those looking for a solid medicine ball might want to consider choosing the Titan Fitness Soft Medicine Ball. Made from faux leather, this medicine ball is durable and functional. It can be found in the 14-pound weight. Essentially, this medicine ball will offer you some great features and allow you to perform all your workout routines.

Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Core and Stability Workout

There are hundreds of med ball exercises and all of them target the core muscles effectively. However, you can use these three to ensure you get a solid workout.

ExerciseRepetitionsSetsRest Between Sets
Medicine Ball Plankhold for 30 seconds330 seconds
Medicine Ball Mountain Climbers10 per side330 seconds
Russian Twists10 per side330 seconds

Choosing the Right Weight and Texture for Your Fitness Level

Before starting your exercises with a medicine ball, you must choose the right one for your fitness and comfort level. This is often broken down into the weight and the texture or material of the medicine ball. Here are a few tips for selecting the right option before performing workouts with a medicine ball.

workout with medicine ball

1. Weight By Fitness Level

The first thing you need to decide is the weight you are going to use. The weight will vary depending on the fitness level of the person. The stronger you are, the heavier you can go. However, beginners should start with a light med ball. Here is a basic chart for each level.

Fitness LevelMed Ball Weight
Beginner5 pounds or lower
Intermediate7-8 pounds
Advanced12 pounds or higher

2. Workout Types

The medicine ball you choose is not only affected by the weight. What the manufacturer uses to fill the medicine ball will also have an effect on performance. If you are performing slams, you need the med ball to bounce. Using a med ball with synthetic materials could be beneficial. For standard lifting exercises, choosing a medicine ball filled with gel or sand will work.

3. Outer Materials

Finally, you need to choose a material you are comfortable with. Most older med balls were made with a leather exterior. However, synthetic materials are also great and could also have more bounce.

The material you select would depend on what you feel comfortable with. It is more important to know how to use a medicine ball correctly than stress about the outer materials.

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  • Product Weight: 10 lb
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Those looking for a solid medicine ball might want to consider choosing the Titan Fitness Soft Medicine Ball. Made from faux leather, this medicine ball is durable and functional. It can be found in the 14-pound weight. Essentially, this medicine ball will offer you some great features and allow you to perform all your workout routines.

FAQ

Is Medicine Ball a Good Workout?

Thanks to the versatility of the medicine ball, it is one of the most functional tools in your workout arsenal. You can use the medicine ball for all your fitness needs and it works well in the comfort of your home. The medicine ball is also one of the oldest tools to use and drawings date back to 3,000 years.

How Long Should You Use a Medicine Ball?

The medicine ball doesn’t have a limit and you can perform exercises on it frequently. However, rest is needed and you should follow a carefully tailored program that includes weighted ball exercises.

Conclusion

If you want something functional, the medicine ball is a great option for versatility at home. You can train virtually any body part using the med ball. With such variety and affordability, we highly recommend each person own at least one medicine ball. However, we would love to see your comments on medicine ball workouts.

Also read:

Referenses:

  1. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation // Bmcsportsscimedrehabil: https://bmcsportsscimedrehabil.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13102-022-00481-7
  2. Barbell Row: Benefits, Muscles Used, and More// Inspireusafoundation: https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/barbell-row/
  3. How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loading// Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6050697/
  4. Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review// Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544005/
  5. Balance and Lower Limb Muscle Activation Between In-Line and Traditional Lunge Exercises// Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6006536/
  6. Effects of High Intensity Plank Exercise on Physical Fitness and Immunocyte Function in a Middle-Aged Man: A Case Report// Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8399219/
  7. Simplicity and Versatility: Benefits of Mountain Climbers// Issaonline: https://www.issaonline.com/blog/post/simplicity-and-versatility-benefits-of-mountain-climbers
  8. Medicine balls are ancient fitness tools that keep bouncing back// Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fitness-medicineballs-idUSKCN0HV0O020141006
  9. Photo by FatCamera, Canva; photo by Lolostock, Canva; photos by Maridav, Canva; photo by vladimirsukhachev, Canva

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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