Photos by Paul Buceta
Medicine balls are making a big comeback in athletic training, and with good reason.
They can be incorporated into a myriad of functional movements. Whether it’s pressing, twisting, turning, or bending, medicine balls can be effectively utilized to train all the supporting muscles that don't necessarily get direct work during traditional strength-training exercises.
Using a medicine ball often involves full-body movements instead of isolation movements, maximizing your calorie burn and challenging your core strength in a whole new way. And the better your core strength, the more effectively you're able to transfer power through your entire body for the larger compound movements such as a deadlift or squat.
You can add a medicine ball to almost any exercise to challenge your core stability and improve coordination.
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How to: Perform each exercise for 10 reps. Perform the entire circuit for a total of three rounds.
Squat and Toss
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding the ball in front of you. Perform a squat (A). Return to standing, tossing the ball straight above you at the top of the movement (B). Catch the ball and immediately lower into a squat again. Repeat for all reps.
Lie face down with arms and legs extended, holding the ball with both hands. Engage your core and glutes to simultaneously raise your arms and legs off the ground as high as you comfortably can. Lower back down and repeat for all reps.
Lie on your back with arms and legs extended, holding the ball with both hands. Contract your core and simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and upper body off the ground, bringing the ball towards your feet. Lower back down with control and repeat for all reps.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise the ball straight overhead, coming up onto your toes with your whole body engaged (A). Bend your knees and explosively bring the ball down and release it, slamming it on the ground in front of you (B). Catch the ball and immediately repeat.
Stand parallel to a wall while holding the med ball with arms extended straight out and back flat. Slam the ball down, catch the ball, and in one motion do a side toss against the wall. Repeat 10 times, then swap to the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place the ball on the floor in front of you. Squat down and place your hands on the ball. Now jump your feet back to land in the top of a push-up position, balancing on the ball with your hands. Jump your feet forward, stand up, and press the ball overhead. You may add a jump at the top for a greater cardio challenge. That’s one rep.