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If you want a powerful workout for your whole body that can be easily done anytime, anywhere, you should seriously consider this medicine ball workout for beginners.
A “medicine ball” is code for several other names that you may recognize: fitness ball, exercise ball, conditioning ball… maybe other names as well. It may be easier to conceptualize if you get the term “ball” out of your head. Unlike the spherical, lightweight, bouncy object you may have kicked around the playground, these weighted balls come in a number of different sizes and weights and are used regularly for physical therapy as well as muscle-toning purposes.
While many technically can bounce (some don’t), bouncing is not their forte. The shape, weights, ease of use, fun factor, and function of these unique objects make them extremely useful for promoting strength gains, toning, rehabilitation, and overall health.
According to legend, medicine balls have been around for at least 3,000 years. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, found medicine balls to be an essential tool to aid in healing, strengthening, and even conditioning for sports. Originally, Hippocrates was known for stuffing animal skins to create a weighted “ball” he could use for therapeutic purposes. Thankfully, we have progressed since then and now have a variety of medicine balls to choose from (sans animal skins), which can come in different sizes and weights, according to their proposed use.
Dating all the way back to gladiator times, the medicine ball workout was used by wrestlers for conditioning purposes and has continued to be a staple throughout the years when it comes to easy, fun fitness alternatives.
A medicine ball workout is a versatile experience and can be a fun “arrow in your fitness quill.”
If you are a beginner, start with a lightweight medicine ball and work your way up to heavier medicine balls as you get stronger. Ideally, start with 10 repetitions for each exercise. After you get acclimated to this medicine ball workout, you can either run through the circuit multiple times, or increase the size or weight of your medicine ball.
1. Medicine ball pushups—start in a normal pushup position. Place your right hand on the medicine ball and push-up: while keeping your back, core, and legs tight, lower your upper body toward the ground by bending at your elbows. Push through your palms to return to the starting position. Do five repetitions on the right and then move the ball to the left to finish the set. If this is too difficult, you can always perform the exercise with your knees on the ground.
2. Supermans—this back exercise is a staple in any bodyweight workout program. Simply lie on your stomach on the floor with your arms and legs outstretched. Grab the ball between your hands and simultaneously lift your arms and your legs about six inches off the ground. Hold this position by squeezing your entire back and your glutes. Try to hold for at least five seconds before returning to the start. Repeat 10 times.
3. Goblet squats—begin by standing with your feet a little wider than your hips and point your toes outwards 45 degrees. Grasp the ball by placing one hand on each side of it while holding it in front of and close to your chest. Bend your knees (they should track in line with the direction your ankles are pointing), and lower your torso in a straight line toward the ground. Stop when your knees are directly over your ankles and hold the position for a moment. Push back up through your heels to the standing position and repeat 10 times.
4. Russian twists—sit on the floor or on a mat with your feet flat on the floor and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your back straight and slightly tilted backward, hold the medicine ball in front of you and twist your upper body to the right. Slowly, and under control, swing back around to the front and then twist your upper body to the left. Repeat this pattern 10 times for a great abdominal exercise.
5. Overhead swings—stand with your feet hip-width apart. With straight arms, hold the ball in front of you and squat down slightly, lowering the ball toward the floor. Push up through your heels as you swing the ball upward until your arms are fully extended above your head. Lower the ball with control back to the starting position and repeat for 10 repetitions.
6. Overhead presses—start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and hold the ball at chest height. Push inward on the ball with your palms as you raise your arms and push the ball upward until your arms are straightened and the ball is directly above your head. Lower the ball slowly back to your chest and repeat 10 times.
7. Triceps Extensions—sit on a chair or a bench and grab the ball with both hands. Straighten your arms overhead so your elbows touch your ears. Maintain your upper arms in this position as you bend at the elbows and lower the ball backward behind your head. Get a good stretch in the triceps before bringing the ball back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
8. Biceps Curls—Hold the ball between your hands in front of you. Your palms will be facing each other. Keeping your upper arms pinned to your sides, straighten your arms while maintaining pressure on the ball. Once your arms are fully extended, squeeze your biceps to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
9. Good mornings—begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the ball in front of you with your palms on each side of the ball and your elbows pointed out to the sides and the ball close to your chest. Lean forward, bending at the hips. Push your hips back as you bend forward and feel a good stretch through your hamstrings. Bend until your torso is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.