Tone Your Muscles with Medicine Balls
Find out how medicine balls — the big, weighted balls you may have seen in the gym — could be the ideal tools for a fun and functional workout.
Whether at home or in the gym, the medicine ball could be the tool you need to turn up the intensity of your workouts. These weighted balls have proven their potential in increasing the strength of athletes across so many sports. They’ve also proven their worth in rehabilitation programs and other sports medicine applications.
What’s a Medicine Ball?
Also known as an exercise ball, a fitness ball, or a med ball, they’re about 13.7 inches in diameter (approximately the width of our shoulder) and are often used in strength training. Technically, they can be differentiated from an exercise ball that is larger in size (up to 36 inches). Weighing anywhere from 2–25 lbs, the medicine ball can be used for various intensity levels.
Medicine Ball Benefits
The health benefits of medicine balls have been known for a long time, even as far back as almost 3,000 years ago. In fact, Hippocrates was believed to have asked his patients to toss medicine balls (which were made of stuffed animal skins then) as a treatment for their conditions. And because of its versatility, this concept has been around ever since.
One particular exercise — the medicine ball slams can actually work out nearly every major muscle group, making them a great addition to your high-intensity training. During the lifting and throwing stages of this workout, your shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and upper back are all involved. Aside from these, there are other benefits:
- Body-building - Medicine balls work wonders for muscle development. With powerful actions like slams that work all of your muscle groups, medicine balls are particularly useful for increasing your power and conditioning.
- Functional movements - Every workout, from squatting with a med ball to hurling one off a wall, mimics natural movements, which also contributes to their effectiveness.
- Develops core strength - From chest twists to sit-ups, you’ll need to firmly clutch the ball’s weight, giving your core a workout every time.
- Strengthens balance and coordination - A regular workout with a medicine ball improves your awareness and perception of your body's stance as you go about your motions.
Medicine Ball Drills to Try
Here are three medicine ball exercises that you can try:
Single-leg deadlifts test your stability while isolating one leg at a time. This can help you correct any imbalances in your posture.
With your feet together, hold the medicine ball straight out in front of you while standing. Bend at the hips, allowing your torso to fall forward, and stretch your left leg straight out behind you, keeping your right leg slightly bent. Make sure your back is straight, your core is engaged, your hips are square to the ground, and your neck is in a neutral position. Return to the upright position until your torso is parallel to the ground. Do three sets of ten reps for each side.
So that you are properly working out your abs and reaping the maximum benefit of the workout, make sure that you twist your entire torso to each side.
Sit with your feet on the floor and your legs bent at a 45-degree angle out in front of you. Extend the medicine ball out in front of you with straight arms. Twist your torso and brace your core as you move the medicine ball to your right side, almost touching the ground. Return to the starting point. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each side for a total of 20 reps.
Medicine ball slams are an ideal combination of power and strength training plus cardio exercises. This is the workout to do with a heavier medicine ball if you have one.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the medicine ball straight above your head, bend at the hips. Slam the medicine ball as hard as you can into the ground while keeping your arms extended. Return to the starting position by picking up the medicine ball. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Medicine ball training can be tailored to meet your fitness level and goals. Make sure to warm up for around 10 minutes before beginning these workouts. After quite a while spent doing these routines, you can choose to use a heavier medicine ball to further challenge your strength and endurance.