Exercise 101: The Medicine Ball

Exercise 101: The Medicine Ball

Medicine balls have come a long way from the gigantic cork covered objects you may remember from school, or even from the bags of sand used by the ancient Greeks.

In recent years the Swiss ball has taken over, but we think it’s time to make the medicine ball popular again. Here’s why.


In a word – versatility! The medicine ball can be lifted, thrown (carefully…) and used as part of floor exercises.

Correct use of a medicine ball also gives you a ‘real-world’ workout. It adds twists and turns, plus tests your fast reactions. These are all strengths we need to run for a bus, pick up a small child or enjoy a kickabout in the park.


Medicine balls come in a wide variety of sizes and weights. Like any other weight, you need to pick the right one for you. The ball needs to be heavy enough to slow down your movements and add some effort. However it should not be so heavy that you really struggle, or risk dropping it on you or someone nearby!


Try this top-down sequence of moves. Keep the ball controlled at all times and don’t start with too heavy a weight.

Shoulders and arms: take control with a simple shoulder press. Hold the ball at chest level, and then raise it until your arms are fully extended above your head. Lower and repeat.

Core: Here’s a mean variation on the basic crunch. Lie on your back with your legs pointing straight up, working that core for a 90 degree angle. Hold the ball on the floor with arms over your head. Now bring the ball up to your ankles without moving your legs.

Glutes – ramp up your bum-improving exercises with the medicine ball bridge. Lie on your back with knees bent, place the ball between your knees. Squeeze the ball and lift your hips to a straight body position.

Thighs: add the ball to your basic toned legs routine, with a medicine ball lunge. Hold the ball at chest height, and as you step into the lunge raise the ball directly above your head. Again, lower and repeat, keeping it controlled.

Go on, get round to using a medicine ball. It hasn’t lasted 2000 years for nothing!

The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Sasha B.
6 January 2016

Sasha B.

Can I use a kettlebell instead of a medicine ball for these exercises? i had one for Christmas so just wondering....

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