Wall balls and partner passes are great if you have a sturdy wall or a workout buddy, but they’re not the only moves you can do with a medicine ball. This multitasking exercise tool is a superstar when it comes to strengthening your abdominals, and we’re proving it with these seven medicine ball ab workouts you can do anywhere.
Before we dive into a few of the ways you can use a medicine ball for ab workouts, let’s talk about what makes a medicine ball special.
Medicine balls are effective because they target muscle groups through dynamic movement. A medicine ball can challenge your balance in side-to-side drills, or improve your stability through moves like offset push-ups. Because medicine balls come in a variety of weights, there’s room to progress or regress your exercises, as needed.
For this workout, we suggest the TRX XD KEVLAR™ Rubber Medicine Balls because they are the most durable medicine balls on the market. Using tire technology, natural rubber is combined with Kevlar® fiber, resulting in a grippy texture to aid in movements like catching, throwing, and slamming—all with a medium bounce that's ready to withstand your toughest sweat sessions.
In ab workouts, try a medicine ball that’s in your medium range.
There are lots of ways to build a workout, but we suggest sticking with either timed intervals of 30-45 seconds per move, or rep-based intervals of 12-20 moves per set in this medicine ball ab workout series. Experiment with both to find which style suits you.
Whether you opt for time or rep intervals, work through the circuit twice for an approximately 15-minute ab blast series.
Take It to Mat
Medicine Ball Sit-Up
Muscle groups engaged: Upper Abs, Lower Back, Hip Flexors
Let’s start this workout lying face-up on the ground for a not-so-basic sit-up.
Begin with your knees bent and your feet planted flat on the ground. Holding your medicine ball against your chest, you can either crunch up, (lifting only your shoulder blades off the ground), or sit-up, (lifting your whole back up and forward).
If you want to add an arm bonus to this move, press the medicine ball overhead as you sit up or crunch, and bring it back to your chest and you return to the ground.
Medicine Ball Alternating Knee Strikes
Muscle groups engaged: Lower Abs, Hip Flexors, Shoulders, and Triceps
You’ll keep your back on the ground for our second medicine ball ab exercise, the alternating knee strike.
Lie down with your lower back and shoulder blades pressed into the floor or mat. Start by holding the medicine ball straight over your chest, with your legs fully extended to the ground, then draw one leg toward your torso.
As you tuck your knee toward your chest, bend your arms and lower the ball to meet the knee. Fully extend your arms and leg, and repeat on the second side, alternating quickly between right and left knees.
Muscle groups engaged: Upper Abs, Lower Abs, Lats, and Hip Flexors
For this move, we’re taking your ordinary jackknife to the next level by adding a medicine ball. Start lying on the ground face up. Your hands and feet should be extended in opposite directions, and your lower back should be glued to the floor.
With your feet parallel, use either your feet or your ankles to lift the medicine ball, and keep your “grip” tight! As you lift the ball up with your feet, lift your shoulders off the ground. Your arms and legs—both fully straightened—should meet overhead.
Once you’re “folded” into your jackknife, pass the ball from your feet to your hands, and extend back down to the floor with the ball in your hands. Repeat, passing the ball between your feet and hands each time.
Need to downgrade? Start with the ball between your knees, and pass the ball between your knees and hands in an accordion crunch.
Medicine Ball Offset Push-Up
Muscle groups engaged: Upper Abs, Lower Abs, Quads, Glutes, Shoulders
Most of our mat moves in this series are in the supine position, but we won’t pass up an opportunity to incorporate a medicine ball into a plank.
For this exercise, you’ll start in an off-set high plank position: one palm on the ground, the other on your medicine ball. The arm that’s connected to the medicine ball will remain slightly bent through the entire move.
Keeping your core tight, you’ll drop down for a push-up, and try to avoid letting the ball wobble. (That’s what makes the medicine ball challenge exciting!)
Once you’ve pushed back up to a straight arm (on the floor-touching side), roll the ball under your body. The palm that was on the ball will now be planted on the floor, and the hand that was on the floor should be on top of the ball. Repeat your push-up again on the second side, and continue—alternating between sides.
If you need to take the push-up from your knees, it’s abs-olutely fine to drop your knees to the ground for the push-up only.
Medicine Ball Oblique Twist
Muscle groups engaged: Upper Abs, Lower Abs, Obliques
Our final move on the mat is a weighted version of the oblique twist. Start in a seated position with a straight back, leaning back slightly to engage your abdominals. Your knees should be bent, with your heels resting on the floor. Hold the medicine ball in front of your chest with both hands.
To begin, rotate side to side. If you’re rotating to the right, your right elbow should touch the ground. When rotating to the left, your left elbow should touch the floor.
To progress this move, you can first lift your heels off the floor, and then—if you want a further upgrade—straighten your legs.
Get Up, Stand Up
Medicine Ball Muay Thai Knee Strikes
Muscle groups engaged: Shoulders, Obliques, Lower Abs, Quads
Similar to the alternating knee strikes you completed on your mat, we’ll start standing with feet hip distance apart and the ball overhead for this explosive move.
Keeping your arms straight, lower the ball to hip level while bringing one knee up to meet the ball. (A light tap is all you need to complete the rep; don’t slam the ball into your knee!) Repeat for a total of five reps on the right side before switching it up for five reps on the left side.
Want more leg action? Drop the traveling leg back for a lunge!
Start in your lunge position with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Your right knee cap should be hovering just above the floor. Drive up through your left leg while lowering the ball down and raising your right knee to hip level. Just as you did in the standing version of this exercise, your knee should meet the medicine ball. Repeat in five-rep sets, alternating between your left and right legs.
Medicine Ball Rotational Slam
Muscle groups engaged: Shoulders, Obliques, Triceps, Quads, Glutes
In a standard medicine ball slam, you follow a straight axis as you squat, lift, and slam the ball. With this move, we trade that vertical axis for a diagonal, working the obliques in the process.
Just like in the traditional ball slam, you’ll start holding the ball overhead with both hands. Your feet should be hip distance apart, and you’ll want to keep a light bend in your knees. Start by slamming the ball to your right side. Because this is a slam—not a drop—your torso should rotate slightly to the right, and your hands will follow through to the right side.
Squat down, pick up the ball, raise it overhead, and repeat on the left side.
It’s easy to fall into a bodyweight-only ab routine, but that means your workouts will eventually plateau. Challenging yourself with weight will help you continue to make progress with an efficient exercise schedule. Give these medicine ball ab workouts a try, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your own additions to this routine.