Working out with medicine balls can make you feel like you're back in elementary school playing four-square or dodgeball. Sometimes you can have so much fun that you don't even realize that medicine ball training strengthens your abs, too. Your abs are part of your core, which is a system of muscles, fasciae and nerves that includes your spine and hip. Your core works with other body parts to keep your body in alignment when you move and to help generate power when you throw or lift. You can do most of these exercises with a friend or by yourself.
Stand with your right foot in front of you and hold a 5-pound medicine ball over your right shoulder.
Swing the ball down and across your body toward your left hip. Swing the ball up toward your left shoulder and swing down and across your body to your right hip. It's as if you were drawing a figure 8 in the air with the ball.
Repeat the movement pattern in a smooth, continuous fashion. Perform two to four sets of 10 to 20 reps. Switch to the left leg and start the ball on your left shoulder during your second and fourth sets.
Stand away from a sturdy concrete or brick wall about eight to 10 feet and hold a 5-pound medicine ball over your head.
Take two steps forward and throw the ball at the wall on the last step. Do not hunch your back when you throw. Let the ball bounce off the wall.
Catch the ball after it bounces off the ground once. Repeat the exercise as fast as you can for three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Stand with your legs about shoulder-distance apart and hold a 5-pound medicine ball in front of your chest with your arms straight out in front of you.
Twist your torso to your right and swing the ball in the same direction. Pivot your left hip and foot at the same time.
Swing the ball to your left and twist your torso in the same direction. Pivot your right hip and foot at the same time. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 20 rotations.
Lie on a stability ball on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the ground. Hold a 5-pound medicine ball over your head with your head between your arms.
Exhale and sit up to bring your shoulder blades off the ball. Keep the ball over your head so you don't bring your arms in front of your chest.
Inhale and lower your body back on the ball. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: The Core as a Cylinder
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using a Medicine Ball
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta
- Use a lighter medicine ball if you want to work on speed and endurance. Use a heavier ball if you want to improve strength and short-term explosive power, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.