The Best Medicine Ball Exercises With and Without a Partner

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. They can be great for developing explosive movements, strength, conditioning, core development and can be a useful alternative to monotonous cardio.

Couple doing medicine ball exercises

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 1-2 kg 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

If you are looking to buy one then check out our medicine ball reviews.

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James Collier

James first started bodybuilding as a teenager back in the 1980s and obtained his degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Surrey back in 1995. After qualifying he worked as a clinical Dietitian for the NHS in various UK hospitals.

Having competed several times during the 1990s, his passion now lies in helping other bodybuilders, strength and fitness trainees reach their goals.

He is a Registered Nutritionist and a full member of The Nutrition Society in the UK. James is also co-founder and developer of Huel, nutritionally complete food.

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