Medicine balls are incredibly versatile and can be used in dozens of different ways to target specific muscle groups in the body. Most of the moves that are performed using a medicine ball tend to be ‘compound’ moves that use the core muscles of the stomach and lower back. These are great moves to gain advances in strength and flexibility in this area, and can be performed almost anywhere.
1. Russian Twist
Hold the ball at arms length across to one side of your body, behind your hip and keeping your knees bent. Keeping your abs tight, begin to rotate the ball around your mid-section until it is behind your hip on the opposite side of your body. To allow for a greater range of motion, twist your hip and rotate the ball of your foot at the same time.
2. Diagonal Chop
Stand with the ball at head height – beside your ear – while twisting your body slightly to the same side. Pretend you are chopping a log with the medicine ball as you swing it downwards in a smooth arc towards the floor at your opposite foot while rotating your hips and keeping your arms straight. Reverse the move to return to the starting position.
3. Figure 8’s
Hold the medicine ball at head height again, about a foot away from your right ear and with your arms extended. Move the ball around in a large figure of 8 movement, keeping the movement constant and smooth. Concentrate on keeping your core muscles tense and tight as you move the ball.
Stand holding the medicine ball above your head with both hands. Swing the ball forwards and down between your legs until it ends up a couple of inches from the floor. Keep your back straight as you do this and bend your knees as you swing downwards. At the end of the move, reverse by pulling the ball back up over your head to the starting position.
Similar to the ‘Figure 8’s’ exercise mentioned above, this is a variation that sees you moving the ball from an overhead position, around to your side and towards your feet before completing a large circle up to the staring position above your head. Try to make the circle as large as possible and keep your back straight while doing it.
6. Sit-Up Throw
This move can be performed using a partner if you have one, or a wall if you don’t. If you have a partner, sit on the ground facing each other with your feet interlocking for stability. The person with the medicine ball lies on their back, holding the ball in outstretched arms above their head. The other person sits up. The lying partner then sits up while keeping the ball above their head and throws it to the other person at the top of the move. As this is performed, the abdominal muscles should be squeezed. The partner catches the ball and, holding it above their head, lies down. The move is then repeated between the 2 partners.
If you do not have a partner, instead throw the ball against a wall at the top of the move and catch it as it bounces back to you.