Jacqueline Crockford, DHSc by Jacqueline Crockford, DHSc

Using a medicine ball is a great way to add load to your traditional strength-training routine, in a non-traditional way. With medicine balls, you can add power, strength and variety to your general fitness plan.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between the types of medicine balls available. Traditional medicine balls (MB) are generally soft, covered in leather or vinyl, and do not bounce upon impact. Other medicine balls, which we’ll refer to as slam balls (SB), are generally harder on the outside and bounce with impact like a basketball, depending on how heavy they are.

Here are eight new ways to use medicine balls that will build strength, increase power and keep you from getting bored with your workouts.

1. Rotational Slam (SB)

Rotational medicine ball slam

Beginning in a squat position, hold the ball at your chest, stand up and move into full extension with your ankles, knees, hips and arms. Rotate through the trunk and use your whole body to slam the ball down to the floor on the outside of one foot. Catch the ball when it bounces up, rotate and slam to the opposite side. Be sure to reach full extension with the ball overhead in between each slam.

2. Squat to Press Throw (MB)

Squat to press throw

Begin in a squat position with the ball at your chest. Stand up quickly, pressing the ball up and overhead. Throw it upward and slightly out away from the body. Let the ball land in front of you, step forward in a wide squat and bring the ball to the chest; repeat.

3. Lateral Wall Ball (SB)

Lateral Wall Ball

Begin standing in a squat position, perpendicular to a concrete wall about 2 to 3 feet away. Hold the ball at your outside hip and stand up; rotate and pivot on the outside foot. Using the power from the glutes, throw the ball at the wall at hip height and quickly catch and return to the starting squat position.

4. Reverse Slams (MB)

Reverse Medicine Ball Slams

Begin in a wide squat with the ball between the legs. Extend the body upward, moving the arms overhead. Forcefully throw the ball behind you. Step back over the ball and repeat.

5. Forward underhand toss (SB)

Forward underhand toss

Begin facing a wall in a wide squat with the ball between the legs. Using the power from the glutes, extend the hips and toss the ball forward to the wall. Move to catch the ball when it returns from the wall and repeat.

6. Chest Press (SB)

Chest Press

Stand facing a concrete wall a little more than arms-distance away. Quickly press the ball straight out and absorb the bounce back into the chest; repeat.

7. Reverse Rotations (MB)

Reverse Rotations

Stand facing away from a concrete wall about a body-length-and-a-half away. Hold the ball with arms extended and rotate around, tossing the ball around your hip toward the wall. Quickly grab the ball and repeat on the other side.

8. Burpie Slam (MB)

Burpie Slam

Burpie Slam

Begin by doing a traditional forward medicine ball slam in front of the body. Instead of repeating, immediately drop down over the ball and complete a push-up, grabbing the ball on the way back up from the ground. Repeat quickly, as if doing burpees. 

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