One of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment is the medicine ball. A medicine ball is a weighted ball that comes in various weights, starting at one pound and progressing up to 150 pounds. Medicine ball exercises are any exercise that uses a medicine ball as part of the equipment. These exercises can target any body area, including the chest and back.
They are often used in physical therapy to help rehabilitate patients after an injury. However, you can use medicine balls for a variety of different exercises. Since you can safely catch and throw medicine balls, you can practice functional and dynamic movements with the additional challenge of a medicine ball.
Medicine ball exercises can help you improve muscle strength, coordination, agility, explosiveness, balance, muscle power, speed, and cardiovascular health. You can enjoy these benefits for any part of your body based on the type of exercise and the muscles it targets.
Many beginners like to use medicine ball exercises because the movements are similar to everyday activities. Plus, the viability of low-weight medicine balls makes it easy for beginners to learn the correct form and procedure without endangering themselves.
Since medicine ball exercises are similar to everyday movements, it helps the different muscle groups build functional strength that you can utilize when performing daily tasks or playing sports.
This functional strength is excellent for different muscle groups like your biceps, backs, chest, and abs because it gives the body practice for the activities it does every day. This exercise can help reduce injuries and accidents.
In general, chest and back exercises with a medicine ball help to improve posture and prevent back pain. The chest is worked by chest presses, while you target the back with rows.
Medicine ball exercises help you improve your posture by pulling your shoulders back and down. This chest and back workout also help to improve your posture by strengthening the muscles that hold your spine in alignment.
Another benefit of medicine ball exercises is that you can do them anywhere. All you need is some open space and a medicine ball. As a result, these exercises are perfect for home workouts.
To incorporate medicine ball exercise into your exercise routine, check out these 20 different back and chest medicine ball exercises for beginners.
1. Overhead Slam
The overhead slam is a great way to build explosive power in the upper body. The overhead slam also challenges your cardiovascular system and works your shoulder, triceps, chest, and core muscles.
The overhead slam starts by holding a medicine ball in both hands above your head while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, raise your hips and explosively throw the ball down onto the ground in front of you.
As the ball hits the ground, catch it and immediately return to the starting position. Repeat this movement for 12 reps.
This exercise is excellent for beginners. Depending on the medicine ball’s weight, you can make it as challenging or as easy as you want.
You can easily combine this exercise with other chest and back exercises to create a full-body workout. For example, you could do chest presses in between overhead slams. Alternatively, you could add it to part of a full-body HITT workout.
The V-up is a great medicine ball exercise for beginners because it simultaneously works your chest, shoulders, and abs. This exercise also helps improve your balance and coordination.
To do a V-up with proper form, begin by lying on your back with the medicine ball in both hands above your chest. From here, press the ball overhead as you sit up and reach for your toes.
As you sit up, engage your core muscles to keep your spine straight. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement for 10-20 reps.
If it is too challenging, you can make it easier by keeping your feet on the ground as you sit up. You can also hold the medicine ball in only one hand to make it easier.
You could combine this exercise with other ab exercises to create a core workout. For example, you could do a set of V-ups and then immediately do a set of weighted superman followed by a set of lunges with twists.
3. Hay Bailer
The hay bailer is a great medicine ball exercise for your back and abs. One of the advantages of this medicine ball exercise is that it targets multiple core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, the rectus abdominis, and the internal and external obliques.
To do the hay bailer, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. You should hold the medicine ball in both hands outside your left knee. To begin the exercise, you move the medicine ball to your right shoulder while standing up and twisting your core.
Bring the medicine ball back to the starting position and repeat the movement for 10-20 reps before switching sides. Repeat going from right knee to left shoulder for another 10-20 reps. A complete set of hay bailers exercises both sides of your core.
The hay bailer may be challenging for beginners because of the compound movement. However, it is easy to master with a bit of practice. It may seem easy, but using a weighted medicine ball makes it much more challenging.
Combining hay balers with single-leg hip bridges and wall passes is a great way to build lower body and core strength.
4. Straight-leg Situp
The straight-leg situp is a chest and back medicine ball exercise that works your rectus abdominis, the muscle group responsible for the six-pack look. This exercise also works your hip flexors and chest.
The straight-leg situp begins on your back, your legs straight in front of you, and the medicine ball in both hands above your chest. From here, sit up and reach for your toes as you press the ball overhead.
As you sit up, keep your legs straight and engaged. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement for 10-20 reps.
You can make it more challenging by holding the medicine ball in only one hand or adding a twist to the movement. To add a twist, reach for your right ankle as you press the ball overhead with your left hand. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
You can add the straight-leg situp to a workout with other chest and back exercises to create a complete routine.
It is excellent for beginners because most people have experience doing sit-ups. It is also a relatively straightforward exercise that most people can do without too much of a challenge.
5. Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is a fundamental medicine ball exercise that targets your shoulders and upper back. It is an excellent exercise for beginners because mastering it will help them complete more advanced activities.
To do the shoulder press, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the medicine ball in both hands at chest level. From here, press the ball overhead while keeping your core engaged.
Lower the ball to chest level and repeat the action for the desired reps. You can lower the ball’s weight if this exercise is too challenging.
You can also do it with one arm at a time to make it easier or to target one half of your body.
You can add the shoulder press with the lying chest toss and some cardio to create a short but intense full-body workout.
6. Ball Fly
The ball fly is a chest medicine ball exercise that targets your pectorals, deltoids, and triceps. The ball fly is a challenging exercise, even at light weights, and can be more difficult for beginners than some of the other exercises on this list.
Start by lying on an exercise ball and your feet on the ground. Hold a medicine ball in one hand directly above your chest. Next, lower the ball to chest level while keeping your core engaged and elbow close to your side.
Raise the ball back up to the starting position. When completing this exercise, it is essential to use a full range of motion. The lower you bring the ball, the more challenging it is.
A ball fly is a great way to balance your chest workout and work all your pectoral muscles. Combine it with a lying chest toss to ensure you exercise your entire chest.
7. Biceps Curl
The bicep curl is one of the most common and prolific exercises. It is an essential exercise that is easy for beginners but produces results.
You can easily replace a dumbbell with a medicine ball to make bicep curls easier. The medicine ball provides resistance and is easier to grip than a dumbbell.
This exercise begins by holding a medicine ball in front of your thighs while standing. From here, curl the ball up to chest level while keeping your elbows close to your sides.
Lower the ball back to the starting position and repeat the movement for 15 reps. You can make it harder by using a heavier ball or only one arm at a time.
Bicep curls are complementary exercises, so the best way to incorporate them into your routine is to add them to a leg or chest workout.
8. Reaching Romanian Deadlift
The reaching Romanian deadlift is a medicine ball exercise that targets your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The reaching Romanian deadlift is one of the more challenging on this list.
If you are unfamiliar with doing reaching Romanian deadlifts, begin by practicing without any weight or using a light weight. Performing this exercise with poor form or too heavy weight can lead to injury.
To safely do this exercise, start with a medicine ball in both hands in front of your thighs. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. From here, hinge at the waist and lower your chest towards the floor while keeping your back flat and core engaged.
Once you have reached a comfortable position, explosively drive through your heels to stand up straight and push the ball overhead. Lower the ball back down to the starting position and repeat.
The deadlift is a great lower body and back workout. You can combine it with a squat press and throw to exercise your entire back and lower body.
9. Single-leg Hip Bridge
Many people neglect their hips when it comes to their workouts. Single-leg Hip Bridges are a great way to target your hips and glutes while improving your core and back strength.
The single-leg hip bridge is also a great way to improve your balance and stability. It is also easy for beginners. However, high rep and heavy weights can make it far more challenging.
Begin with your feet on the floor, your knees raised, and your back firmly on the ground. Hold a medicine ball in one hand. Place the other hand flat on the floor for support.
From here, lift your hips and glutes off the floor and drive through your heel to extend your leg. The single-leg hip bridge is an ideal addition to any lower body workout. You can also add it to a core workout.
10. Step Jump
The step jump is a plyometric medicine ball exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. This exercise builds off the basic squat, which is an easy exercise from a technical standpoint. It is also an easy exercise from an effort standpoint.
The step jump is easy to add to any leg workout. You can use the step jump to warm your legs or get your heart rate up as a finisher exercise.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the medicine ball in both hands at chest level. From here, squat down and place your hands on the floor.
Jump your feet back into a plank position. From here, jump your feet back to the starting position and stand up. As you stand, explosively throw the medicine ball above your head. Catch the ball and repeat the movement for ten reps.
11. Rolling Push-up
Rolling pushups are a great way to target your chest, shoulders, and triceps while improving your stability. This exercise is a great way to complete your upper body workout.
Start with your back on the ground and the medicine ball underneath your chest. Place your hands on the ball and push yourself into a pushup position. Lower yourself and roll the ball forward until it is underneath your feet.
Push yourself back up and repeat the movement. As you get more comfortable with the movement, you can add weight to the ball or increase the reps.
The rolling push-up is an easy one that anyone can do. If you want more of a challenge, you can increase the distance you roll the medicine ball.
12. Medicine Ball Push-up
Medicine ball pushups are a chest and shoulder exercise. The medicine ball push-up is easy for beginners as it modifies the standard pushup. The use of a medicine ball gives you a more comprehensive range of motion which increases the work that your chest does. It is more challenging than a standard pushup.
Kneel in front of a medicine ball and assume the pushup position with your hands on the medicine ball. Lower yourself until your chest touches the medicine ball, and then push yourself back to the starting position. Keep your core engaged the entire time.
The medicine ball pushup is excellent for targeting your inner chest muscles. Combine this exercise with a medicine ball fly for a complete chest workout.
13. Weighted Superman
The weighted superman is one of the best core and back exercises you can do with a medicine ball. The weighted superman is also great for improving your posture. The superman exercise is easy for beginners to learn, but you can quickly increase the difficulty by using a heavier medicine ball.
Lie facedown on the floor with the medicine ball in your hands. Keeping your legs and arms straight, raise your chest and legs off the floor.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold this position for 2 seconds. Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat the movement.
Adding the weighted superman to any workout is a beautiful way of keeping your core strong while strengthening other body parts.
14. Lying Chest Toss
The lying chest toss is a chest and shoulder exercise. The lying chest toss is easy for beginners as it modifies the standard chest fly. It specifically targets your shoulders and inner chest.
Lie on the floor with a medicine ball in both hands. Hold the medicine ball on your chess and then toss the ball as high into the air as possible. Catch it on the way down. Repeat this motion for the desired number of reps.
The lying chest toss is a great way to focus on your inner chest or add fun, practical action to a workout.
15. Wall Pass
The wall pass is a fun and functional exercise that any beginner can complete. The wall pass engages your core, shoulders, and chest. This exercise also requires coordination.
Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and a medicine ball in both hands. Turn and toss the medicine ball to a partner. Alternatively, you can throw it against a wall. Do this exercise in both directions to maintain an even workout.
The wall pass is a great exercise if you work out with a partner or want to add a more dynamic movement to your workout.
16. Rock and Roll Up
The rock and roll up is an outstanding exercise for beginners as it works your entire body. The rock and roll up also requires coordination and engages your core.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and a medicine ball in both hands. Place the medicine ball behind your head. Lie back onto the floor and then press the medicine ball overhead. Use your abs to sit up and then reach for the ball. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement.
The rock and roll up is a great way to work your entire body, especially your abs. You can do it along with some cardio for a complete workout.
17. Lunge with Overhead Press
The lunge with the overhead press is an excellent medicine ball workout that targets multiple muscle groups. Although it requires coordination and various movements, most beginners can successfully do this exercise.
You begin the lunge with overhead press by holding a medicine ball in both hands. Step forward with one leg into a lunge. As you lower yourself into the lunge, press the medicine ball overhead. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
The lunge with the overhead press is ideal for those who want to target their chest, shoulders, and legs. You can also use it as a cardiovascular workout by increasing the speed at which you do the repetitions.
18. Lunge With Twist
Similar to a lunge with overhead press, a lunge with a twist is a medicine ball exercise that targets multiple muscle groups. The lunge with a twist targets your lower body, abs, and lower back.
Begin by holding a medicine ball in both hands. Step forward with one leg into a lunge. As you lower yourself into the lunge, twist your torso to the side. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Keep your core engaged the entire time.
The lunge with a twist is a compound exercise that is best combined with other compound exercises to create a full-body workout.
19. Squat Press and Throw
The squat press and throw is one of the most challenging full-body exercises you can do with a medicine ball. It targets your chest, shoulders, quads, and glutes.
Assume the squat position while holding a medicine ball in both hands at chest level. Lower yourself into a squat, and then press the medicine ball overhead as you stand up. As you lower the medicine ball back down to chest level, throw the ball as high into the air as possible, and catch it on the way back down.
Combine the squat press and throw with several abdominal exercises for a balanced workout that exercises all the major muscle groups.
20. Reverse Swing
The reverse swing is a medicine ball chest exercise that works your back and shoulders. The reverse swing is beginner-friendly exercise but can be challenging by adding more weight or repetitions.
You will need a medicine ball and a wall to do this exercise. Start by standing with your back to the wall and the medicine ball in both hands. Swing the ball backward and hit the wall with the medicine ball. Reverse the motion and swing the ball back to the starting position.
For an effective workout, combine the reverse swing with a chest and lower body exercise like the lung with an overhead press.
What Are the Types of Medicine Ball Exercises?
There are many different types of medicine ball exercises. While you can target just about every muscle using medicine balls, these are the four primary categories of muscle groups that are often targeted.
- Medicine Ball Chest Exercises
- Medicine Ball Back Exercises
- Medicine Ball Ab Exercises
- Medicine Ball Leg Exercises
Medicine Ball Exercises for Chest
The most effective medicine ball exercises targeting the chest are chest passes, throws, and presses. These exercises target the chest muscles, which include the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and serratus anterior, making them an effective chest workout routine.
Chest passes, throws, and presses help strengthen these muscles because they all use pushing motions. Pushing motions help target and develop the chest muscles because you use them in many everyday activities, such as pushing open a door or a lawn mower.
Medicine Ball Exercises for Back
Medicine ball exercises are also effective at targeting your back muscles. For that reason, they should be incorporated in your back workout program. Your back is made up of four main muscle groups, listed below.
- The latissimus dorsi (lats)
- The trapezius (traps)
- The erector spinae (spinal erectors)
- The rhomboid
Since you can have a wide range of motion when completing medicine ball exercises, you can target each muscle group in the back individually or collectively. Some practical exercises for strengthening your back are as follows.
- Bent-over row
- Upright row
- Overhead slam
- Good morning
These exercises are suitable for your back because they work to strengthen the muscles and improve your posture. They also help to prevent back pain and injury.
Medicine Ball Exercises for Abs
Many medicine ball exercises target your abs or abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. Some of the most effective medicine ball exercises for abs are as follows.
- Hay Bailer
- Straight-leg Situp
- Weighted Superman
These exercises help build core strength by adding weight to these actions and making them more challenging for your core. If you are looking for an effective ab workout routine, look no further than a medicine ball variation.
Medicine Ball Exercises for Legs
You can use a medicine ball to target specific leg muscles, including the bastus lateralis, baster intermedium, and biceps femoris. The best medicine ball exercises for your legs are as follows.
- Lunge with twist
- Squat press and throw
- Step jump
These medicine ball exercises allow you to add dynamic movement and explosiveness to your lower leg workouts.
Why Are Medicine Ball Exercises Better for Beginners?
Medicine ball exercises are great for beginners because the ball’s weight is easier to control than free weights. The ease of use and similarity of medicine ball exercises with everyday actions results in significant improvements in posture.
The focus on the stabilizer muscles makes medicine ball exercises perfect for beginners looking to improve their balance and coordination while working on their chest and back.
How Does Medicine Ball Type Affect the Exercise Style?
The type of medicine ball you use impacts the type of exercise you can do. Using the right kind of medicine ball makes your training more dynamic.
A simple, round medicine ball is suitable for chest passes, overhead throws, and chops. Slam balls are better for exercises where you want to bounce the ball off the ground or the wall.
What Are the Types of Medicine Balls?
There are three types of medicine balls.
- slam balls
- wall balls
- traditional balls
Slam balls are the heaviest and most robust of the three types. Most slam balls have a tough exterior and are made from heavy-duty rubber.
However, they are not bouncy, so there is no bounce or rebound when you throw them.
Slam balls are the size of a slightly deflated beach ball, and you can get them as light as five pounds and as heavy as 200.
Wall balls are a type of medicine ball used with a wall. This type of medicine ball is larger than slam and traditional medicine balls and is also softer.
You can throw them against a wall without causing any damage. Unlike slam balls, wall balls have a slight bounce and are a great way to exercise various muscle groups.
You can use wall balls for more explosive and dynamic exercises. You can use them for HITT workouts, and they usually range from five to 30 pounds.
Traditional medicine balls are a similar weight and size as wall balls. However, they have different textures. The exterior of a conventional medicine ball is not as smooth as that of a wall ball or slam ball.
This type of medicine ball is often used for rehab and physical therapy because the textured surface allows you to grip the ball better. Traditional medicine balls also bounce, making them great for various chest and back exercises.
What Are the Alternatives of Medicine Balls?
There are a wide variety of alternatives to using medicine balls. Popular alternatives include the following exercises.
- free weights
- bodyweight exercises
Free weights are often used in place of medicine balls because they provide a more comprehensive range of motion and allow you to target specific muscle groups.
Barbels are another popular alternative to medicine balls. Barbells are often used for similar exercises but allow the user to increase the amount of weight for the movement.
Bodyweight exercises are the most similar alternative to medicine balls because you can do all the same exercises in a similar form.
Kettlebells are a popular alternative to medicine balls because they offer a similar range of motion.
How To Do Medicine Ball Exercises
When completing any medicine ball exercise, you should firmly grasp the ball with one or both hands, depending on the practice. You must complete the desired movement while keeping your abdominal muscles tight.
Additionally, you should avoid jerking or swinging the ball, as this can lead to injury. Instead, you should move slowly and with control.
Finally, when completing medicine ball exercises, you should always use a weight appropriate for your fitness level.
If you are a beginner, start with a lighter ball and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise.
How To Protect the Form for Medicine Ball Exercises
When completing any exercise, it is crucial to maintain proper form. It is vital to use an appropriate form when completing medicine ball exercises due to the wide range of movement and the explosive nature of some activities.
The best way to protect the form is by using a spotter. A spotter is someone who stands nearby and watches you as you complete the exercise. They can help to ensure that you are using the proper form and can help to prevent any injuries.
It is also essential to warm up before completing these exercises. A simple way to warm up is to achieve a light cardiovascular exercise such as jogging or walking for 5-10 minutes.
Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up and prepare your body for subsequent exercises. The best dynamic stretches target the same muscle groups you plan to target during your workout.
Finally, never use medicine balls that are too heavy. Using a weight heavier than you are ready for will cause you to compromise on form and perform the exercise poorly. Using weights beyond your ability level decreases the effectiveness of the movements and puts you at risk for injury.