Want to work your whole body from multiple angles and improve coordination? Pick up a medicine ball.
If you haven’t used medicine balls in your workouts lately, you could be missing out on a secret weapon for better fitness.
They're terrific for combination workouts, like this med ball medley of cardio and strength moves. But what's really great is how they allow you to move your body in different ways and from different angles than dumbbells, resistance bands, and gym machines. For example, you might squat and gently toss a ball at the same time.
The result: You'll target muscles that may not get as much love from more common exercises, and you'll practice head-to-toe coordination. And it doesn't hurt that using a ball feels more like play than work!
How the Med Ball Medley Works
You'll need a lighter medicine ball, about four pounds or less, and a heavier medicine ball, about eight pounds or more. Try to choose soft medicine balls.
If you’ve never worked with medicine balls before, you may want to try the workout first with a non-weighted fitness ball or without a ball at all—simply pretend you’re a holding a medicine ball so you can get a feel for the movements.
Warm up with 10 minutes of cardio of your choice or the warmup exercises from this 20-minute cardio follow-along workout. Perform each exercise in order for one round. Aim to do three rounds total. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Exercise #1: Around the Horn
Do 8 reps each way
Use a light ball, about four pounds or less. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Brace your core as if you're about to get punched in the stomach. Hold the ball to the outside of your right hip.
Moving smoothly and keeping your hips forward, raise the ball toward your left shoulder, circle it above and behind your head, and lower it to the outside of your left hip. At the same time, push up to standing, and lower back down. Repeat in the opposite direction. Do eight reps each way, and rest for 30 to 60 seconds.
Exercise #2: Squat Catch
Do 10 to 12 reps
Use a light ball. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and brace your core. Hold the ball between your legs.
Moving smoothly, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your body into a shallow squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so.
Push through your heels to return to standing, and as you stand, toss the ball. Lower your body back into a shallow squat, and as you squat, catch the ball. Do 10 to 12 reps, and rest for 60 seconds.
Exercise #3: Chop
Do 8 reps each side
Use a ball that you can comfortably move, but start with a lighter ball and see how that feels first. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and brace your core. Hold the ball above your right shoulder. This is your starting position.
Moving smoothly, step forward with your left foot into a shallow lunge, planting your left foot firmly and letting your right heel come off the floor. At the same time, lower the ball across your body and to the outside of your left hip, gently rotating through your core.
Push through your left foot and raise the ball to return to starting position. Do eight reps each side, and rest for 60 seconds.
Exercise #4: Ground to Overhead
Do 10 to 12 reps
Use a heavier ball, about eight pounds or more, but you can also start with a lighter ball and see how that feels first. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and brace your core. Hold the ball between your legs.
Moving smoothly, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Continue holding the ball between your legs.
Still moving smoothly, push through your heels to return to standing, and curl the ball up to your chest. Pause, then still pushing through your heels and bracing your core, press the ball overhead.
Reverse the motion to lower the ball to your chest, and then down toward the floor as you lower back into a squat. Do 10 to 12 reps, and rest for 60 seconds.
Make it easier: If it’s not safe or comfortable for you to lift your arms overhead, raise the ball only to your chest.
Make it harder: In the squat position, touch the ball to the floor. Keep your chest up—don’t let your upper body collapse forward.
Exercise #5: Lateral Windmill
Do 8 reps each side
Use a light ball. Take a wide stance with your knees and toes pointing forward, and squat down slightly. Shift your weight to your right foot, planting it firmly. Your left leg should be straight but not locked. Brace your core, and lift your chest. Hold the ball between your legs.
Moving smoothly to the left, step with your right foot and then your left foot, planting it firmly. At the same time, circle your arms to the left, above your head, and back down.
Repeat in the opposite direction, stepping and circling to the right. Do eight reps on each side, and rest for 60 seconds.
Make it easier: If it’s not safe or comfortable for you to lift your arms overhead, raise the ball only to shoulder level or to your chest.
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