Medicine Ball Exercises

By James Collier, MuscleTalk Co-Owner
(August 2015)

Medicine balls are a very useful and all too often overlooked gym accessory. Using effective medicine ball workouts can complement a weight training and cardio training regimen. Medicine ball workouts can be great for developing explosive movements, strength, conditioning, core development and can be a useful alternative to monotonous cardio.

Some medicine ball work will ideally be done with a partner, but there are a number of exercises that are great to perform on your own. Remember, balls are weighted so they need to be handled with good form to prevent injury.

How heavy a weight ball will depend on what you can comfortably manage for each exercise. Maybe start with a 1-2kg ball and work up to see how you get on. Don’t use a ball that’s too heavy so as to compromise form.

Here are just a few medicine ball exercise, some to perform with a partner and some on your own.

Medicine Ball Exercises with a Partner

Standing torso twists

  • Stand back-to-back approx 1 meter apart, and feet shoulder width apart
  • Keep hips facing forward and knees slightly bent
  • Pass the ball to each other by only twisting the torso in a circuit fashion
  • Try for two sets of ten repetitions, one set clockwise, one set anti-clockwise

Vertical Extensions

  • Stand back-to-back approx ½ meter apart, and feet shoulder width apart
  • Pass ball to your partner overhead
  • Partner returns ball to you through the knees
  • Two sets of ten repetitions, one set you lead overhead; second set your partner leads overhead

Crunch ball passes

  • Lie on floor with knees together but bent
  • Partner stands over you in front of your knees
  • Hold ball in hands with arms behind your head, elbows slightly bent
  • Crunch up and pass ball to you partner
  • Descend with no ball, crunch up to retrieve ball from your partner then descend with ball
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Try for two to three sets

Medicine Ball Exercises you can do on your Own

Lying arm and leg raises

  • Lie flat on the floor with feet together
  • Hold ball in hands with arms outstretched behind head
  • Raise legs and arms simultaneously
  • Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Abdominal ball curl

  • Sitting on floor up slightly with back at approx. 45°, resting on your hands
  • Knees bent
  • Ball is held by the knees
  • Draw knees up to the chest
  • Return to the starting position
  • Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions

Lying side bends

  • Lie on floor with knees together but bent
  • Hold ball in hands with arms outstretched
  • Keep shoulders flat on floor and find a point on the ceiling to focus on
  • Move arms from left to right keeping shoulders and head flat
  • Ball should be about 12 inches from the floor on each side
  • Aim for 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions

Throwing crunches

  • Lie on the floor with feet together (maybe crossed) and legs stretched upwards so feet are in the air
  • Hold ball in hands against chest
  • Crunch up whilst simultaneously reaching out so ball touches feet
  • Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions