Get a full-body cardio and strength workout with a medicine ball.
In case you’re wondering, the medicine ball isn’t a small pill to swallow. It’s a weighted ball that’s used in the fitness world to improve muscle strength and sports performance and therefore promote good health. While you may have only recently heard of medicine balls, they’ve been around for thousands of years. The ancient physician Hippocrates incorporated the medicine ball into his medical practice by having his patients throw animal skins filled with sand as a way to rehabilitate after injury.
Tired of dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells? Mix up your workout routine by using a medicine ball. You’ll give your heart a good workout and strengthen your muscles at the same time. Medicine balls can be purchased at sporting goods stores in weights varying from 2 to more than 50 pounds. Some are the size of a baseball, while others are the size of a basketball or the shape of a football for sports-specific training. Depending on your exercise, some balls come with handles or ropes.
For an effective full-body workout, here are five medicine ball exercises. Do each exercise one minute, then rest for 10 seconds before switching sides or moving on to the next.
Lunge with Overhead Press
You’ll feel the burn in your legs, arms, and shoulders with this exercise. Stand up straight, holding the medicine ball with both hands at your chest. Slowly bring your right foot forward far enough to lower your knee to a 90-degree angle. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor without letting your knee go past your toes. As your weight is on your right leg, lift the medicine ball overhead and back to your chest. Step out of the lunge. Repeat on your right leg for one minute then switch legs.
High to Low
Stand with feet placed hip-width apart and hold the medicine ball with both hands extended above your left shoulder. Lower your body into a squat position (knees bent, buttocks back) and bring the ball down toward your right ankle. Return to standing and raise the ball up over your left shoulder. Repeat for one minute, then start with the ball above your right shoulder and bring it down toward your left ankle.
Lunge with a Twist
You’ll engage your core with the lunge and twist. Get in starting position by standing up straight and holding the medicine ball with both hands at your chest. Step forward with your right leg, extend your arms, and twist your upper-body to the right, reaching the ball to the right. Return to center and come back up to standing. Alternate legs, lunge forward on your left leg, and twist to the left.
Stand with your feet placed hip-width part and slightly bend your knees. Hold the medicine ball with both hands by your chest. Lower your body into a squat and lower the ball toward the floor, keeping your chest and head lifted. Then, jump up off the floor and toss the ball into the air overhead. Catch the ball and lower back into a squat. Repeat for one minute.
A fifth medicine ball exercise that gives you a total body workout is the rotational slam. Stand with feet placed shoulder-width part and hold the medicine ball with both hands up over your head. Turn to the left side, pivot your right foot, and bend your legs while you bring the ball in an arch and slam it on the floor on your left side. Grab the ball after it bounces on the floor and raise it back over your head. Then, turn your body to the right side, pivot your left foot, bend your legs, and slam the ball on the floor on your right side. Keep alternating sides for one minute.