What is a medicine ball, and what muscles does it work?
A medicine ball is a weighted ball, originally created for physical therapy and rehab purposes as well as for gaining strength. They are still used for those reasons, as well as for a variety of functional exercises to improve mobility, muscle tone, power, and agility.
You’ll usually find them at a gym starting at about a six pound weight, up to 15 or 20 pounds. If your gym has them, they may be stashed away near the personal training area, or anywhere that has the functional training equipment.
Types of Medicine Balls
What is the difference between rubber medicine balls and slam balls and “wall balls” (as the soft ones are often referred to due to CrossFit’s use of them)?
Quite simply, rubber medicine balls bounce, and are smaller than the big, softer ones you find in a CrossFit box. Those may bounce a tad if you throw them hard enough, and are more commonly used for carrying long distances or tossing over one shoulder. They’re much larger than rubber medicine balls, so one may be easier to use for certain exercises. For instance, the wall ball exericise, where you throw the ball up to a high point against a wall, then catch as you land in a squat. Rubber balls are harder for these exercises because they bounce and they’re smaller, so they’re harder to catch. Slam balls are squishier and have much more give to them, and are typically a bit smaller than rubber medicine balls. They’re sand-filled and when thrown, plop where they land – no bounce, no give. These are ideal for overhead slams and force production because you can put a lot of effort into throwing them without worrying about them bouncing back at you or rolling away.
This particular blog and workout will focus on rubber medicine balls, the kind that bounce. But there are other types of medicine balls, such as larger, soft ones and smaller, squishier ones.
Ok, now that we have that settled, let’s talk about why I personally love medicine balls.
Some of the benefits of rubber medicine balls for working out:
- They are great for beginners, who may struggle with strength and stability for holding two dumbbells. Medicine balls can be gripped in both hands for exercises like an overhead press or squats.
- It only requires one small piece of equipment, rather than two dumbbells or a large barbell.
- They simplify exercises due to only having to manage that one item as you move
- They’re easy to hold/grip
- They can easily be stored and used at home, as well as the gym
- They bounce, so they allow for power, coordination and agility training you can’t do with other weights, such as wall balls, ball slams, rotational throws, tossing with a partner, etc.
- They’re fun!
Full Body Medicine Ball Workout
This medicine ball workout will target your full body – arms, core, legs and glutes. You can use a lightweight ball for a great mobility and toning workout, or a heavy slam ball to really build muscle and power. These exercises are also good for coordination, balance, stability and dynamic power.
You can repeat this as many times as you like and/or have time for, but I’d suggest 3 times through. The last two exercises require a sturdy brick or concrete wall, but they can be skipped if you don’t have that. Watch the video below to see how to perform each exercise.
- Russian twists – 20x
- Weighted sit-ups – 15-20x
- Single leg deadlifts with overhead press – 8-10x each leg
- Walking or reverse lunges with rotation – 10x each leg
- Alternating push-ups – 10x
- Squats – 15-20x
- Alternating side lunges with ball slam – 20x
- Wall balls – 10-15x
- Side wall throws – 10-15 each side
Want a medicine ball for your home workouts? You can get rubber, soft, or slam balls at ProSourceFit.com for 10% off with my code HOLLY10!
Do you have other exercises you love to do with medicine balls? Share them in the comments!
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