Medicine balls are often used for athletic and power training. You can perform explosive movements with medicine balls because you can throw them, something you will want to avoid with other free weights like dumbbells and barbells. Adding throwing exercises into your routine can make it more fun and functional than a standard weight routine.
Being able to throw or pass medicine balls engages more muscles than dumbbell exercises and allows you to work throughout your entire range of motion, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Medicine balls are most helpful for upper body and core exercises because you can use your arms to throw the ball. You can use medicine balls for lower body exercises such as lunges and dead lifts, but your workout will be similar to if you were using free weights or kettlebells. To get the maximum benefit, perform medicine ball workouts that target the upper body and core, and stick to weight machines or body weight exercises like squats and calf raises for your legs.
Single-Arm Rotation Chest Passes
This exercise will work your arms and chest as well as your core muscles as you rotate to throw the ball. Stand sideways about five feet from a partner. Point your right shoulder at your partner. Hold a medicine ball in front of your left shoulder between your hands with your elbows bent. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Twist to the right and pivot your feet to point your partner. Raise your left heel. Press your left arm straight toward your partner to throw the ball. Do not lean forward. Work on your timing so that you are simultaneously turning your body and extending your left arm. Catch the ball as your partner throws it back and pivot back to your starting position. Do 10 reps as fast as you can with good form and then turn around to do the other side. You can do this exercise without a partner by bouncing the ball off the wall.
This exercise works your back and arm muscles and is especially great for soccer players, though beneficial for anyone. Stand about eight feet away from a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a ball between your hands and raise your arms over your head. Bend your elbows to lower the medicine ball behind your neck. Step forward with your right foot and throw the ball at the wall by straightening your arms and bringing them forward. Catch the ball and step your feet back to hip-width apart. Do five quick throws by stepping forward with your right leg and then do five by stepping forward with your left foot.
Partner Thruster Tosses
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Sit facing a partner in the same position as you or a wall. Hold a medicine ball about a forearm's length in front of your chest between your palms with your elbows bent. Sit up by raising your torso up in the air, but leave your feet and buttocks on the floor. Bring your chest forward and throw the ball by pressing both arms straight as you release the ball toward your partner's chest. Begin to press your arms forward as you sit up so that you release the ball at the same time you complete the sit up. Catch the ball and then lie back down. Do 12 to 20 reps.
- “NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training: Course Manual;” Michael Clark, Scott Lucett, Rodney Corn; 2008
- “Core Training for Greater Strength and Better Health;” Thomas Boettcher; 2004
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.