medicine ball full body workout

15 Medicine Ball Exercises to Get a Full-Body Workout

Medicine balls are a versatile and effective tool for achieving a comprehensive full-body workout.
Reading 15 Medicine Ball Exercises to Get a Full-Body Workout 21 minutes

Medicine balls are a versatile and effective tool for achieving a comprehensive full-body workout. Renowned for their simplicity yet incredible utility, these weighted spheres provide a dynamic means to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Medicine ball exercises enhance functional movement patterns, promoting coordination, balance, and core stability, whether used for strength training, flexibility, or cardiovascular conditioning.

Today, we’ll show you our favorite exercises to get a full-body medicine ball workout. Let’s get started!

What are Medicine Balls?

Medicine balls, like the TRX medicine ball, come in different sizes and weights, offering a versatile tool for enhancing muscular power and athletic performance. Unlike dumbbells or kettlebells, medicine balls are designed for throwing and catching, enabling explosive movements that can significantly boost overall athletic ability.

These dynamic exercises build strength and improve coordination, balance, and agility, making them a valuable addition to any fitness routine. Additionally, medicine balls can be used for a wide range of exercises, including core workouts, upper and lower body movements, and functional training, providing a comprehensive workout experience for individuals of all fitness levels.

How to Use a Medicine Ball

Selecting the appropriate weight for a medicine ball is crucial for effective workouts. It's recommended to choose a ball that adds resistance to your movements without compromising control, accuracy, or range of motion. Opt for a weight that slows down your motions slightly compared to exercising without any weight. This ensures that you're challenging your muscles while maintaining proper form and technique. Avoid using a ball that is too heavy, as it can lead to decreased control and may impact your ability to perform exercises correctly.

Best Medicine Ball Exercises

15. Overhead Slam

An overhead slam is an effective medicine ball ab workout in which you lift a heavy object, like a medicine ball or YBell, over your head and then slam it hard onto the ground in front of you. Including the core, shoulders, and arms, this move works out a lot of muscle groups and improves balance and strength.

Here’s how to do an Overhead Slam with a medicine ball:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, placing the medicine ball between your feet.
  2. Engage your core muscles, squat, and lift the medicine ball overhead, fully extending your arms.
  3. As you inhale, brace your core and prepare to slam the ball down.
  4. Exhale forcefully as you slam the medicine ball down towards the ground in front of you, using your entire body to generate power.
  5. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips as you slam the ball down, maintaining a strong core and upright posture. Follow through with your arms by powerfully swinging them back as you hinge.
  6. Aim to slam the ball with enough force to create a loud impact and bounce it back up slightly.
  7. Catch the rebound of the medicine ball as it comes back up, keeping your core engaged and maintaining control of the movement.
  8. Repeat the overhead slam for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on using your core muscles to control the movement and generate power with each slam.

14. V-up

The V-up exercise is a core-strengthening movement that targets the abdominal muscles. To perform a V-up, lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead and your legs straight. Simultaneously lift your upper body and legs off the ground, forming a V shape with your body. Reach your hands towards your toes as you lift, then lower back down with control. This exercise helps improve core stability, strength, and overall abdominal muscle tone.

Here’s how to do a V-up with a medicine ball:

  1. Lie flat on your back on an exercise mat with your legs extended and your arms stretched overhead, holding a medicine ball securely in both hands.
  2. Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine and pressing your lower back into the mat.
  3. Simultaneously lift your legs and upper body off the mat, bringing them towards each other in a V shape while holding the medicine ball in your hands. Think about lifting your chest and lengthening your spine as you sit up.
  4. As you lift, keep your legs and arms straight and aim to touch the medicine ball to your feet or as close as possible.
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, squeezing your abdominal muscles to maintain tension.
  6. Slowly lower your legs and upper body back to the starting position, keeping them hovering above the mat to maintain tension in your core.
  7. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on controlled movements and maintaining proper form throughout.
  8. To increase the challenge, you can hold the medicine ball closer to your feet or use a heavier medicine ball as your strength and control improve.

13. Straight-Leg Situp

A straight-leg situp is a type of abdominal exercise where you lie on your back with your legs extended straight and together. The movement involves lifting your upper body off the ground using your abdominal muscles while keeping your legs straight. This exercise primarily targets the rectus abdominis, which is the muscle that runs vertically along the front of your abdomen and is responsible for flexing the spine.

Here’s how to do a Straight-leg situp with a medicine ball:

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back on an exercise mat with your legs fully extended and your arms extended overhead, holding a medicine ball securely with both hands.
  2. Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine and pressing your lower back into the mat.
  3. As you exhale, simultaneously lift your upper body and legs off the mat, keeping your legs straight and raising the medicine ball towards your toes.
  4. Aim to touch the medicine ball to your toes or as close as possible, maintaining a straight back and avoiding any rounding of the spine.
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, squeezing your abdominal muscles to maintain tension.
  6. Inhale as you slowly lower your upper body and legs back down to the starting position, maintaining control and keeping your core engaged throughout.
  7. Repeat the straight-leg situp for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on controlled movements and maintaining proper form.
  8. To increase the challenge, you can use a heavier medicine ball or perform the exercise on an incline bench for added resistance.

12. Crunch with Medicine Ball Hold

An abdominal crunch involves lying on your back, knees bent, feet flat, and clutching a medicine ball near your chest. Squeeze your abs as you lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor and bring the medicine ball to your knees. Control your descent to avoid neck and back strain. It strengthens the rectus abdominis and obliques, improves core strength, and can be intensified by changing the medicine ball weight or slowing down the movement.

Here’s how to do a Crunch with Medicine Ball Hold:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, and feet flat, and hold a medicine ball above your chest, with arms fully extended.
  2. Engage your core, exhale, and lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the mat while raising the medicine ball toward the ceiling.
  3. Hold the crunch position briefly, feeling the tension in your abs.
  4. Inhale and lower back down with control.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps, focusing on proper form and controlled movements.

11. Figure 8

The Figure 8 exercise involves standing with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight like a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Bend your knees slightly and engage your core. Move the weight in a diagonal motion across your body, twisting your torso, and then repeat on the other side in a fluid, figure-eight pattern. This exercise targets the core muscles, improves coordination, and enhances stability, requiring proper form for effectiveness and safety.

Here’s how to do a Figure 8 with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands.
  2. Engage core muscles and bend knees slightly.
  3. Lower the ball diagonally across your body, twisting your torso.
  4. Pass the ball between your legs and bring it up diagonally to the other side.
  5. Alternate sides in a fluid motion for the desired reps, focusing on core engagement and control.

10. Hay Baler

The hay baler exercise targets the core muscles, especially the obliques and abdominals. To do it, stand with legs about hip-width apart, step one foot forward flat on the ground and the other leg back behind the body on the ball of the foot. Hold the weight in both hands near the hip of the leg that is behind. Twist through the chest and shoulders to bring the weight across the body and over the opposite shoulder, keeping both arms straight for the whole movement. When finished with one side, switch to the other side.

Here’s how to do a Hay Baler with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands, and engage your core.
  2. Lower the ball diagonally across your body while twisting your torso.
  3. Lift the ball diagonally from hip to shoulder on the opposite side.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  5. Alternate sides for desired reps, focusing on core engagement and control.

9. Shoulder Press

The shoulder press is a strength training exercise focused on the deltoid muscles of the shoulders. To do it, you stand or sit with a straight back, holding a weight (like dumbbells or a barbell) at shoulder level, elbows bent, palms facing forward, with elbows at less than a 90 degree angle at your sides. Push the weight upward until arms are fully extended overhead, without locking out elbows, then lower it to shoulder level. This exercise builds shoulder strength, improves stability, and enhances upper body strength and muscle development.

Here’s how to do a Shoulder Press with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ball at chest level with bent elbows.
  2. Engage core muscles, then press the ball overhead with arms fully extended, avoiding locking the elbows.
  3. Pause at the top, then lower the ball back to chest level.
  4. Repeat for desired reps, focusing on controlled movements and proper form.

8. Triceps Extension

A triceps extension is an exercise that targets the triceps muscles, located at the back of the upper arm. It involves extending the arms against resistance, typically using weights like dumbbells or a cable machine. There are various types of triceps extensions, including overhead triceps extensions and lying triceps extensions. The TRX Triceps Extension offers a unique movement that is neither overhead nor lying down, therefore making it safe and effective for those who struggle with overhead extension exercises. These exercises help strengthen and tone the triceps, which is important for activities that involve pushing movements, such as pushing open a door or lifting objects. Triceps extensions are commonly included in strength training routines aimed at improving arm strength and muscle definition.

Here’s how to do a Triceps Extension with Medicine Ball:

  1. Sit or stand with your back straight and hold the medicine ball with both hands, palms facing upward.
  2. Lift the ball overhead, keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor while maintaining alignment in the elbow and shoulder joints. Your elbows should not directly touch your head nor should they flare out too wide.
  3. Lower the ball behind your head by bending your elbows, allowing them to move backward slightly.
  4. Extend your arms upward again, pushing the ball back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this movement for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on engaging your triceps muscles throughout the exercise.

7. Ball Fly 

A Ball Fly, also known as a Chest Fly with a Medicine Ball, is an exercise that targets the chest muscles. It involves lying on your back on a flat bench or mat while holding a medicine ball in both hands. With your arms slightly bent, you lift the ball upward and outward, bringing it above your chest level and then lowering it back down in a controlled manner. This movement mimics the action of hugging a large ball, hence the name "Ball Fly." Ball Flies are effective for strengthening the chest muscles, particularly the pectoralis major, and are commonly included in upper body strength training routines.

Here’s how to do a Ball Fly with Medicine Ball:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a bench or mat, holding a medicine ball in both hands above your chest, with your arms slightly bent.
  2. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and engage your core muscles to stabilize your body.
  3. Inhale and slowly lower the medicine ball out to the sides in a wide arc, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Lower the ball until your arms are in line with your shoulders or slightly below, feeling a stretch in your chest muscles.
  5. Exhale and use your chest muscles to bring the ball back to the starting position above your chest, squeezing your chest at the top of the movement.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on controlled movements and maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.

6. Biceps Curl

A Biceps Curl is a strength exercise that targets the biceps muscles in the upper arms. You lift a weight like a dumbbell or a barbell by bending your elbows while keeping your upper arms still. Start with the weight at arm's length, palms up, and curl it towards your shoulders, contracting the biceps. Biceps curls can be done standing, sitting, or using equipment like cable machines, helping build arm strength and define the biceps muscles.

Here’s how to do a Biceps Curl with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart, gripping a medicine ball in both hands in front of your body, arms fully extended.
  2. Keep your upper arms close to your ribcage and your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise.
  3. Inhale and curl the medicine ball upward by bending your elbows, keeping your wrists straight.
  4. Continue lifting until the medicine ball is near your shoulders, contracting your biceps at the top of the movement, but without letting the elbows leave the sides of your body.
  5. Exhale and slowly lower the medicine ball back down to the starting position, fully extending your arms but maintaining control.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on controlled movements and avoiding swinging or using momentum.

5. Reaching Romanian Deadlift

The Reaching Romanian Deadlift is a variation of the traditional Romanian Deadlift (RDL) where you reach forward with one hand toward the opposite foot while performing the RDL. This adds a balance and flexibility challenge, targeting the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles.

Here’s how to do the Reaching Romanian Deadlift with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a medicine ball at arm’s length in one hand, holding it near the side of your hip.
  2. Keep your back straight, shoulders tucked down into your armpits, and tuck your pelvis to avoid arching of the lower back.
  3. Engage your core muscles and slightly bend your knees.
  4. Hinge at your hips by pushing your hips and glutes back and lowering the weight towards the ground while simultaneously reaching your free hand diagonally across your body towards the opposite foot.
  5. Maintain a flat back and keep the weight close to your shins as you lower.
  6. Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement, only lowering down to about mid-shin level, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings.
  7. Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels and straightening your hips, while bringing the reaching hand back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides and perform the exercise with the medicine ball in the opposite hand.

4. Single-Leg Squat

A Single-Leg Squat, also known as a Pistol Squat, is a lower-body exercise where you squat down on one leg while the other leg is extended forward. This targets muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. It requires balance, stability, and strength, making it a challenging yet effective exercise for improving leg strength and overall lower body stability. You can do it with just your body weight or add resistance for increased difficulty. The TRX Suspension Trainer provides stability and support to aid in building strength and mobility in a single-leg squat movement.

Here’s how to do the Single-leg Squat with Medicine Ball:

  1. Stand upright with your feet together and arms extended holding a medicine ball at chest level.
  2. Place the heel of one foot on the ground in front of your body, acting as a kickstand, extending it forward while keeping the other foot firmly planted on the floor.
  3. Slowly lower your body down by bending the knee of the standing leg, as if sitting back into a chair. Hinge at your hips as the knee bends.
  4. Keep your chest up, back straight, and core engaged throughout the movement.
  5. Lower yourself until your thigh is parallel to the ground or as far down as you can comfortably go while maintaining balance and upright posture.
  6. Push through the heel of the standing leg to return to the starting position, straightening your leg fully.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on one leg, then switch to the other leg to complete the set.

3. Step Jump

A Step Jump is a plyometric exercise where you jump onto an elevated platform and then jump back down. It targets lower body muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves while improving cardiovascular fitness and explosiveness. This high-intensity exercise requires explosive power and coordination, making it beneficial for athletes and anyone wanting to enhance agility, strength, and overall athletic performance.

Here’s how to do the Step Jump with Medicine Ball:

  1. Start by standing about one foot in front of an elevated platform or step, such as a plyometric box or sturdy bench. Hold a medicine ball directly at your chest with your elbows tucked at your sides.
  2. Position your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees, preparing for the impact of the jump.
  3. Engage your core muscles for stability and power.
  4. Jump explosively off both feet, aiming to land with both feet squarely on top of the platform or step.
  5. Land softly and absorb the impact by bending your knees as you land to cushion the landing.
  6. Immediately after landing, jump back down to the starting position, ensuring that you land with both feet simultaneously.
  7. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions or time intervals, focusing on maintaining a quick and explosive movement pattern.

2. Single-Leg Hip Bridge

A Single-Leg Hip Bridge is an exercise where you lie on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight. By pushing through the heel of the bent leg, you lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from shoulders to knees. This targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles, improving hip strength, stability, and balance.

Here’s how to do the Single-leg Hip Bridge with Medicine Ball:

  1. Lie on your back while holding a medicine ball on top of your hips. Bend one knee so that it is directly in line with the ankle, the foot flat on the ground, and the other leg extended straight out. Keep both knees aligned but hip-width apart.
  2. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine.
  3. Press through the heel of the foot that's on the ground to lift your hips off the floor, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your bent knee.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement to maximize contraction.
  5. Lower your hips back down to the starting position with control, but don't let them touch the floor.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other leg.

1. Circle Squat

A Circle Squat is a lower body exercise that combines a squat with a lateral movement in a circular motion. It targets muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves while engaging the core for stability. You can do it with or without weights, making it effective for improving leg strength, mobility, and overall lower-body conditioning.

Here’s how to do the Circle Squat with Medicine Ball:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart with a medicine ball at your chest, elbows tucked in at your sides.
  2. Lower yourself into a squat position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back, keeping your chest up and back straight.
  3. As you squat down, simultaneously move laterally (to the side) in a circular motion, either clockwise or counterclockwise.
  4. Ensure that your knees track over your toes and that your weight is evenly distributed between both feet.
  5. Squat down as low as is comfortable for you, aiming to keep your thighs parallel to the ground.
  6. Push through your heels to return to the starting position, still moving in a circular motion.
  7. Repeat the squatting and circling movement for the desired number of repetitions, then switch directions and repeat.

If you liked the medicine ball exercises we’ve provided, be sure to take a look at our list of favorite slam ball exercises too. 

How to Choose the Proper Weight of a Medicine Ball 

For beginners, it's best to start with a medicine ball weighing between 1.8 and 2.7 kg. 

If you're focusing on speed, opt for a similarly light ball in the 1.8 to  2.7 kg range. For building power, choose a heavier ball weighing 3.6 to 5 kg.

You might be curious why medicine balls are recommended over regular hand weights. Though both are weighted tools, they offer distinct advantages. Medicine balls allow for dynamic movements like slamming, which is great for power development—something you can't achieve with hand weights. Additionally, medicine balls engage your muscles in different planes of motion compared to traditional weights, providing a more varied and functional workout.