What Size Medicine Balls for Exercise?

by Michelle Zehr

Plyometric training, which focuses on using the stretch and shortening cycle of your muscle, helps you develop both flexibility and endurance. Medicine balls, in all their sizes and materials, are a key tool to enable this type of training. For an exercise program with a medicine ball to be effective, you must select a medicine ball that is appropriate for your level of fitness.

A Wide Range

A medicine ball may be a few inches larger in diameter than a baseball or larger than a basketball. These types of balls can be very light, under a pound, or very heavy, at over 50 lbs., according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Focus On The Activity

Before you select a medicine ball, think about what type of exercises you will be performing with it as well as your overall goals for your exercise plan. Smaller and lightweight medicine balls are used for speed training. Heavier and larger medicine balls are used for strength and power training. In general, ACSM notes that most people tend to choose balls that are too heavy for the activity in which they're engaging.

Starting Out

When starting to use a medicine ball, begin with a lighter ball and work your way up to a heavier ball, depending on your goals. Use a ball that allows you to perform exercises and drills using proper form. If you are using an exercise ball that is too large or too heavy, you are placing yourself at risk for injury because you are likely to perform exercises incorrectly. When beginning with an exercise ball, start with the use of basic sets and repetitions. Try three sets of eight repetitions or four sets of six repetitions. Increase your sets and repetitions as you progress and are able to complete exercises with ease.

Specialty Medicine Balls

Medicine balls come in a number of styles. Soft gel medicine balls are useful for throwing and are used in physical therapy settings. You can also purchase a medicine ball with grips. These grips look like a handle that makes for easy grasping for use in different types of exercise. Medicine balls come filled with air -- they are lightweight and used in resistance training and during plyometric exercise. Medicine balls with ropes enable throwing games and train your upper body.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.