At first glance, a medicine ball may not seem like a very intimidating piece of gym equipment. Our caveman ancestors, after all, had to deal with much bigger physical challenges and lifting far more weight.
Yet, if you do it the right way, you can put together a very challenging workout with no more equipment than a 10-pound medicine ball.
Medicine ball workouts have the advantage of specificity—that is, you can tailor the exercises to meet the needs of your specific sport or workout routine.
Here are a few great medicine ball exercises for you to try. Be warned, though, they’re not as easy as they might seem!
The Wood Chopper – Here’s an exercise that cavemen would be very familiar with. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart while holding a medicine ball at arm’s length directly over your head. Mimic the act of chopping wood while holding onto the ball, bringing it down between your legs and then back up to the starting position with equal intensity. Pause at the beginning and end of the movement so that you don’t receive any assistance from the momentum of the ball.
Squat to Press – Hold the ball at chest level while standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Drop down into a squat position until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Forcefully return to your original position while lifting the ball over your head at arm’s length and repeat.
Medicine Ball Sit-up – Lie on your back with your feet bent at a 45-degree angle and your heels on the floor. Hold the ball at chest level. Perform as many sit-ups as you can, using the ball for resistance.
45-Degree Twist – Sit on the floor in a sit-up position and raise your feet slightly off the floor. Hold the ball in front of you at arm’s length. Twist from the right side to the left and back, touching the ball on the floor on each side.
Medicine Ball Push-ups – Assume the push-up position with your hands supporting themselves on the ball. Perform regular push-ups while your hands balance on the ball. The fact that the ball is unstable gives you a great core workout while your pectoral and deltoid muscles get a great workout as well.
Medicine Ball Lunges – Perform standard lunges while holding the medicine ball at chest height. The ball slightly alters your center of gravity providing an additional stress on your core muscles to keep you in the correct position. This adds a new dimension to the stand lunge.
Medicine Ball Jumps – Stand in front of a bench (make sure it’s stable!) with your knees slightly bent and hold the ball in front of your chest. In one motion, perform a two-footed jump onto the bench. Hop back down and repeat. This is a very dynamic exercise which builds strength, power and explosiveness in your quads, glutes and hip flexors.
Although a standard medicine ball may not seem as impressive as a couple of hundred pounds of weight on a bar, you can still make some significant strength gains with a few well planned exercises. The advantage of the medicine ball is its versatility and the ability to specifically target the muscles you want to develop.
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