Need Help? Customer Support 1-866-236-8417

The Ultimate Medicine-Ball Workout

All you need is a lightweight medicine ball to get a great workout that pushes your heart rate, hits on every muscle, and boosts your athleticism from all angles. Here's your routine, along with a complete guide to each movement!

Each implement in the gym could be used a number of ways, but each one serves certain goals better than others. Looking to improve your max strength? You'll probably have to grab a heavy barbell. All-in for muscle gains? Dumbbells and cables are right up your alley. And in the case of medicine balls, explosive power and conditioning are the name of the game.

When throwing a medicine ball, unlike when lifting weights, you don't have to slow down at the end of the range of motion; you can just let the ball fly. Therefore, simply throwing the ball in different directions trains your body to generate explosive power in those directions, without putting on any brakes.[1]

Of course, you can't talk about power without mentioning the Olympic lifts. Yes, they're great for training explosive power, but whereas Olympic weightlifting can be difficult to learn and trains only in the vertical or diagonal power pillar, the explosive medicine-ball throwing exercises utilized in this workout are easy to learn and require you to move fast and explosively in multiple ways. You also don't need a platform, specialized shoes, or expensive bumper plates. All you need here is a ball and either a wall or some open space, such as a field or a parking lot.

Unless you are limited to outside workouts and the weather is horrible, you have no excuse not to get the most out of your training! Put this workout from my Pillars of Power Performance training course in the mix, and be prepared to be surprised at how big a payoff a light ball can have.

Nick Tumminello's Medicine-Ball Workout

Although the medicine-ball throwing exercises require you to move as explosively as you can, focus on the technique of each exercise and use deliberate control when setting up to perform each rep. If necessary, rest a bit longer than indicated between sets in order to complete the designated number of reps with good control. This workout emphasizes movement quality over quantity!

Medicine-Ball Workout
Warm-up circuit: 2 rounds
1

Medicine-ball rotation

12-14 reps, each direction
Medicine-ball rotation Medicine-ball rotation

Medicine-ball figure 8 with hip rotation

6-8 reps
Medicine-ball figure 8 with hip rotation Medicine-ball figure 8 with hip rotation

Medicine-ball reverse lunge with torso rotation

6-8 reps, per leg
Medicine-ball reverse lunge with torso rotation Medicine-ball reverse lunge with torso rotation

Medicine-ball swing

12-14 reps
Medicine-ball swing Medicine-ball swing

Medicine-ball around-the-world

6-8 reps, in each direction
Medicine-ball around-the-world Medicine-ball around-the-world
Note: Rest as little as possible between movements, and 1-2 min. between rounds.

Power Exercises

Paired set: 4 sets
2

Medicine-ball reverse scoop throw

4-6 reps
Medicine-ball reverse scoop throw Medicine-ball reverse scoop throw

Medicine-ball rainbow slam

6-8 reps per side, alternating sides
Medicine-ball rainbow slam Medicine-ball rainbow slam

Paired set: 4 sets
3

Medicine-ball overhead soccer throw with step

6-8 throws, alternating legs for step
Medicine-ball overhead soccer throw with step Medicine-ball overhead soccer throw with step

Medicine-ball side rotary scoop throw

5-6 reps, per side
Medicine-ball side rotary scoop throw Medicine-ball side rotary scoop throw

Paired set: 4 sets
4

Medicine-ball rotary punch throw

5-6 reps, per side
Medicine-ball rotary punch throw Medicine-ball rotary punch throw

Medicine-ball front rotary scoop throw

6-8 reps, per side
Medicine-ball front rotary scoop throw Medicine-ball front rotary scoop throw
Note: Rest as needed between exercises and 2-3 min. between paired sets.

Conditioning
5

Medicine ball squat-push-throw

3-4 sets of 10-12 reps, running to ball between reps
Medicine ball squat-push-throw Medicine ball squat-push-throw
Note: Rest 2-3 min. between sets.


Technique Keys for Warm-up

Medicine-Ball Rotation

Stand tall while holding the medicine ball at chest height, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms extended in front of you. Rotate your torso to the right side while raising your left heel off the ground and rotating on the ball of your foot as you turn. Rotate your hips and shoulders together at the same rate, while looking straight ahead. Quickly reverse the motion and repeat on the other side. Continue moving dynamically until you've performed 12-14 reps on each side.

Medicine-Ball Rotation
Medicine-Ball Rotation

Tips: Do not pause at any time during this exercise; move fast while using deliberate control. Your nonrotating foot should point fairly straight ahead on each rep.

Medicine-Ball Figure 8 with Hip Rotation

As the name implies, this exercises involves moving the medicine ball through a figure-8 pattern continuously. It's similar to, but a slight progression from, the previous rotation exercise.

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, while holding the medicine ball just above your left ear with your elbows slightly bent. Move the medicine ball diagonally across your body toward your right knee by shifting most of your weight onto your right leg and rotating your torso to the right side, while raising your left heel off the ground.

Without stopping the figure-8 motion, move the ball up to just above your right ear. Quickly reverse the motion and repeat on the other side by moving the ball diagonally toward your left knee while simultaneously shifting most of your weight onto your left leg and rotating your torso to the left side while raising your right heel off the ground. Again without stopping the figure-8 motion, move the ball up to just above your left ear. That's one rep! Continue moving dynamically through this action until you've performed 6-8 reps of full figure 8s.

Medicine-Ball Figure 8 with Hip Rotation
Medicine-Ball Figure 8 with Hip Rotation

Tips: You'll both rotate and shift your weight during this exercise, so don't skip either aspect. Don't pause at any time during this exercise; move fast while staying under control. Perform the exercise smoothly with good rhythm and timing in your arm movement and weight shifting. Be sure to rotate your hips and shoulders together, at the same rate, while looking straight ahead.

Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge with Twist

Step backward with your right foot and drop your body so that your knee lightly touches the floor as you rotate your torso to the left, or toward your front leg. Reverse the movement by coming out of the lunge and bringing your right foot forward so that you are back to the starting position with your torso facing forward. Perform the same movement with the other leg while turning to the other side. Continue to alternate sides, performing 6-8 reps on each side.

Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge with Twist
Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge with Twist

Tips: Perform this exercise in a smooth, rhythmic fashion, coordinating your upper body and lower body in the lifting and lowering phases of each repetition. Keep your head facing forward throughout, so your shoulders rotate but your head doesn't. This technique keeps you from getting dizzy and helps maintain range of motion in your neck.

Medicine-Ball Swing

With your feet roughly hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball in both hands with your arms straight and in front of your body. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping your knees bent at roughly a 20-degree angle. Drive the medicine ball between your legs, as if hiking a football. Once your forearms come into contact with your thighs, quickly reverse the motion by simultaneously driving your hips forward and swinging the medicine ball upward.

Finish with the ball at eye level or above your head—or lower if this height is uncomfortable for your shoulders—then reverse the motion to complete one rep. Perform the exercise in dynamic fashion without pausing at any point. Perform 12-14 reps.

Medicine-Ball Swing
Medicine-Ball Swing

Tips: Perform this exercise in a smooth, rhythmic fashion, coordinating your upper body and lower body in the lifting and lowering phases of each repetition. Do not allow your back to round out at the bottom of each rep.

Medicine-Ball Around-the-World

Stand in a wide stance with your feet about 12-inches wider than your shoulders. Hold the medicine ball directly above your head with your elbows slightly bent. Keeping your elbows bent, use your entire body to make the biggest circles (more like horizontal ovals) that you can make. Perform 6-8 reps in one direction, then reverse the motion and perform another 6-8 reps in the opposite direction.

Medicine-Ball Around-the-World
Medicine-Ball Around-the-World

Tips: Bend your knees at the bottom of the movement and shift your weight to the same side the ball is on. Also, reach high to the sky at the top of this exercise.

Technique Keys for Power Movements

Medicine-Ball Reverse Scoop Throw

Hold the ball between your legs as you drop your shoulders even with your hips, in a Romanian deadlift-type position. Explode out of the start position by extending your legs, while simultaneously throwing the ball at a 45-degree angle behind you in a scoop-like motion. Turn around, walk to the ball, and repeat. Perform 4-6 reps per set.

Tips: Do not round your back in the set-up position. Initiate the throw from your legs, and throw the ball as fast as possible. Your feet should leave the ground at the end of the throw.

Medicine-Ball Rainbow Slam

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, while holding a medicine ball weighing about 6.5-13 pounds (3-6 kilograms) above your head with your elbows slightly bent. Shift your weight slightly to the side on which you're holding the ball.

Slam the ball to the ground at roughly a 45-degree angle, just outside your opposite foot, while shifting your weight to the same side. Allow the ball to take a very small bounce, catch it, and reverse the motion to perform the next repetition on the other side by moving your arms around your head in a rainbow-like arc. Perform 6-8 reps on each side per set.

Medicine-Ball Rainbow Slam
Medicine-Ball Rainbow Slam

Tips: As you slam the ball, allow your shoulders and hips to rotate slightly. To avoid getting hit in the face when the ball bounces, do not keep your face directly above where the ball is being slammed. At the top of the range of motion, when your arms are overhead, reach as high as possible to create a stretch in your torso musculature.

Medicine-Ball Soccer Throw with Alternate Leg Step

Standing with your feet roughly hip-width apart, hold the medicine ball weighing about 4.5-11 pounds (2-5 kilograms) over your head and lean backward slightly to stretch your abdominal region.

Step forward with one foot as you explosively throw the ball at the wall, in the manner of a soccer throw. Aim for a target on the wall that's roughly at your torso height. Stand far enough from the wall to allow the ball to bounce at least once before you catch it and reset for the next rep. Alternate the leg that you step with on each rep. Perform 6-8 throws per set.

Medicine-Ball Soccer Throw with Alternate Leg Step
Medicine-Ball Soccer Throw with Alternate Leg Step

Tips: When starting each rep, do not lean back so far as to overextend your lower back; lean back just enough to initiate a stretch in the front of your torso.

If using a Dynamax-type medicine ball, which has limited bounce, you can stand much closer to the wall than if using a rubber medicine ball. Stand at a distance from the wall that allows the ball to bounce or roll back to you after each throw without forcing you to feel rushed.

Medicine-Ball Side Rotary Scoop Throw

Stand perpendicular to a solid wall at your right side, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a medicine ball weighing 6.5-11 pounds (3-5 kilograms) with both hands by your left hip, then shift your weight to your left leg while hinging forward slightly at your hips. Lift your right heel off the ground, allowing your right foot to rotate slightly and point toward your left side.

Explosively shift your hips toward your right while turning your hips and shoulders to throw the ball horizontally, using both hands in a scoop-like motion. Perform all reps on one side before switching sides. Perform 5-6 reps on each side per set.

Medicine-Ball Side Rotary Scoop Throw
Medicine-Ball Side Rotary Scoop Throw

Tips: Keep your back in good alignment when setting up each throw. Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout. As you throw, lift your back heel off the ground and rotate in the same direction as you're throwing by pivoting on the ball of your foot.

If using a Dynamax-type medicine ball, which has limited bounce, you can stand much closer to the wall than if using a rubber medicine ball. Stand at a distance from the wall that allows the ball to bounce back to you after each throw without forcing you to feel rushed.

Medicine-Ball Rotary Punch Throw

Stand roughly perpendicular to a solid wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Position your front foot (the one closest to the wall) at about a 45-degree angle and point your back foot straight ahead. With your torso upright, hold a medicine ball weighing 6.5-11 pounds (3-5 kilograms) between your hands at chest level with your elbows pointed outward.

Explosively rotate your hips and shoulders simultaneously toward the wall while extending your rear arm to throw the ball horizontally, as if throwing a punch. Allow the ball to bounce back to you, then reset your position for the next repetition. Perform all reps on one side before facing the other direction and performing the exercise on the opposite side. Perform 5-6 reps on each side per set.

Tips: Allow your back foot to rotate toward the wall as you throw. Begin each throw with most of your weight shifted away from the wall; finish each throw with most of your weight on the leg closest to the wall, with your rear heel off the ground.

Throw the ball at the wall as hard as you can. Keep your rear elbow parallel to the floor before each throw.

If using a Dynamax-type medicine ball, which has limited bounce, you can stand much closer to the wall than if using a rubber medicine ball. Stand at a distance from the wall that allows the ball to bounce or roll back to you after each throw without forcing you to feel rushed.

Medicine-Ball Front Rotary Scoop Throw

Stand facing the wall with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and put most of your weight on your left leg. Rotate your shoulders toward your left side, placing a medicine ball weighing 6.5-11 pounds (3-5 kilograms) outside of your left thigh. Your right heel should be off the ground, and your right foot should be rotated and pointed toward your left side.

Explosively throw the ball horizontally at the wall by unwinding your body back to the center position. Throw the ball in a scoop fashion. Stand at a distance from the wall that enables you to catch the ball before it bounces. You can either perform all reps on one side before switching, or alternate sides with each repetition. Perform 6-8 reps on each side per set.

Medicine-Ball Front Rotary Scoop Throw
Medicine-Ball Front Rotary Scoop Throw

Tips: Do not just throw the ball with your arms; use your legs, hips, and torso to create rotational power. Keep your back in good alignment when setting up each throw. Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout.

If using a Dynamax-type medicine ball, which has limited bounce, you can stand much closer to the wall than if using a rubber medicine ball.

Technique Keys for Conditioning Exercises

Medicine-Ball Squat-Push-Throw

In a large space (e.g., field or parking lot), stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine ball weighing 6.5-11 pounds (3-5 kilograms) at your chest with your elbows underneath the ball.

Lower your body, in a motion similar to that of a front squat, by shifting your hips backward and bending your knees so that your thighs become roughly parallel to the ground and your torso leans slightly forward. Explode out of the bottom position by simultaneously extending your arms and legs, launching the ball diagonally at a 45-degree angle as far as you can out in front of you.

After you've released the ball, sprint to it. Allow the ball to bounce once or twice, but try to grab it before it bounces a third time. Reset your feet to begin the next throw, which is followed by another run to grab the ball. Repeat this sequence for a total of 10-12 throws to complete one full set.

Medicine-Ball Squat-Push-Throw
Medicine-Ball Squat-Push-Throw

Tips: Do not try to throw the ball on the run. As you throw the ball, your forward lean causes you to jump forward, which sets you up nicely to sprint forward. Stop after you've grabbed the ball to properly set up each throw, so that you can throw the ball in the most powerful manner.

References
  1. Meylan, C., T. McMaster, J. Cronin, N.I. Mohammad, C. Rogers, and M. Deklerk. 2009. Single-leg lateral, horizontal, and vertical jump assessment: Reliability, interrelationships, and ability to predict sprint and change-of-direction performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(4): 1140–47.