When someone suggests that you include some medicine ball exercises in your training, you can be forgiven for thinking that you have been transported back to the 1980s. Medicine balls were quite the fitness fad at the time, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a great workout tool.
Medicine balls are versatile, and a relatively affordable and accessible piece of equipment to include in your own home gym. They are ideal for both core and full body exercises or using as a free weight for intensifying other bodyweight exercises.
In this article, you’ll find our recommendations for the five best medicine balls that will make an excellent addition to your home gym.
We’ll also look at what to consider when choosing the best medicine ball for you, and some of the most effective medicine ball exercises to include in your regular workout routine.
What are Medicine Balls?
Medicine balls were originally stitched balls, not unlike a baseball, holding some kind of weight material. You could then include the ball in your workout for challenging throws and catches, or simple weighted body movements.
Today it is probably better to think of a medicine ball as a free weight in the shape of a ball. You can get them in a variety of sizes and weights, and they are made from a range of different materials to give them the weight they need and the feel of a slightly soft ball. I’ve seen medicine balls as light as two pounds and as heavy as 100 pounds, some filled with gel, others inflated, some made of runner, and others as grip balls.
Medicine balls are ideal for core training and full body training, as well as adding weight to bodyweight exercises. They can also be immensely useful for adding weight to power-based exercise to build up your power.
Power training is important for developing stringer, more resilient connective tissues, in particular tendons, ligaments, fascia, and joint capsules. This can help reduce the risk of injury, and also helps promote lean muscle.
5 Best Medicine Balls
Power Guidance Medicine Ball
This classic medicine ball from Power Guidance looks like it belongs in an old school gym but is a nice piece of modern kit. It has an attractive laced look, but is made from a course, imitation Kevlar material that is durable and gives good grip.
You can choose from a variety of weights from 1-30 pounds, and the ball has a 30cm diameter. The ball is designed to maintain its shape, even when slammed hard into the ground. It will also bounce off the wall in a consistent and predictable manner.
- Seven weight options from 1-30 pounds
- 30cm diameter
- Imitation Kevlar material
- Designed to keep its shape
Bytomic Double Grip Medicine Ball
If you prefer a medicine ball with handles for better handling, then this option from Bytomic is a great option. It is available in four different weights from 4-10kgs with a 25cm diameter and is made from hard and durable rubber.
The handles are appropriately placed for balanced use, but the ball is sturdy enough that you can still use it for rolling exercises, though this can require a bit more coordination.
JLL Slam Ball
If you are looking for an affordable option, these medicine balls from JLL are great quality at a good price. Weights range from 5-15kgs, with diameters increasing with the weight.
The ball is made from heavy duty rubber and is filled with sand to reach the desired weight. The balls are durable enough that they won’t break, even when slammed hard, and there is a rough surface for good grip.
METIS Fitness Slam Ball Weights
This heavy grip, low bounce ball is high quality and long-lasting made from hard wearing PVC. It comes in seven different weight options, and they are designed to be used as a set, with smaller balls having smaller diameters.
The ball is made not to bounce, making it more effective for slamming exercises. The durable tyre tread construction offers great grip and is easy to wipe down after a sweaty workout.
- Seven options between 3 and 20kgs
- Diameters depend on the weight of the ball
- Hard wearing PVC
- High grip
PhysioRoom Medicine Ball
This classic rubber medicine ball is actually made from durable PVC and is filled with sand. The ball is a convenient 25cm diameter and choose from a variety of weights between 4 and 20kgs.
This ball has a nice level of softness for balancing exercises but will always return to its original shape. The smoothness of the surface makes it predictable when it comes to rebounds.
- 4-20 kg weights
- 35cm diameter
- Durable PVC outer
- Sand for weight
Choosing the Right Medicine Ball
When it comes to choosing the right medicine ball for you, the most important factor to consider is weight. And, unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for what weight to choose.
Ideally, you will want a ball weight that you can lift up above your head and lower to the floor again in a controlled manner ten times and feel a little fatigue in your arms when you are done. It is a good idea to try different weights doing this exercise and then adjust up or down depending on how easy it is for you. Hopefully, before too long training with the ball, you will be able to increase your weight load.
Aside from this, the main thing to consider is whether you want a classic medicine ball or one with handles. While handles make the ball easier to grip, it can make the ball harder to catch or to perform exercises when you need to roll it across the floor.
Generally speaking, it is probably best to go for a standard ball unless you get particularly sweaty hands and therefore struggle to keep the ball in your hands. You don’t want it falling when you lift it up over your head.
You may also want to consider the diameter. You will see that most are somewhere between 10 and 30cm, with lighter balls generally having a smaller diameter. People with larger hands may feel a bit lost with the smaller balls. And while smaller balls are better for rolling exercises, larger balls tend to be better for throwing and slamming.
Aside from this, it is just important to choose something made from a durable material, which won’t start to come apart when you throw it around. Generally “slam balls” are more durable than classic medicine balls.
Of course, you will also want something that represents value for money.
Best Medicine Ball Exercises
Once you have your medicine ball, you might be wondering what exercises you should actually be doing with it? Consider the following.
Medicine Ball Thruster
This is probably the classic medicine ball move that is designed to work the whole body including the legs, shoulders, and core. Stand with your legs hip distance apart and hold the ball in both hands in front of your chest. Keep the ball close to your chest as you squat down, and then reach it up above your head as you rise up, and repeat.
If you want to, you can release the ball in a controlled throw as you come to the top, catching it before you return for your next squat.
This is a very similar exercise, except that it is performed against the wall. Perform the same movement, squatting and then raising up. As you come up, throw the ball upwards against the wall.
You can either let the ball fall on the floor and pick it up to repeat the exercise, or catch the ball to repeat, which also works your hand-eye coordination.
Stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart and the medicine ball held straight up over your head, then slam the ball into the ground as hard as you can. Pick up the ball and repeat. Each set should contain 10 reps.
Stand with you legs hip width apart and hold the ball in front of your chest. Then lift the ball up above one shoulder, and then lower it in a controlled chopping movement down to your opposite foot.
Repeat quickly on one side for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 second before doing the other side.
You perform Russian twists in a contracted sit-up position, balancing on your sit bones. Keeping your feet slightly elevated off the ground, you then twist your torso to one side, touching the floor next to your hip lightly, and then switch to the other side. Just a set of this movement with your bodyweight can be a surprisingly good workout for your core.
Up the ante by holding a medicine ball in your hands and touching it to the spot near your hip. Sets should include 20-30 reps on each side.
Work your upper body with this push-up variation. Set yourself up in a basic press position with the medicine ball underneath one of your hands. Perform your push up, but as you come back up, roll the ball out of one hand towards your other hand. Then repeat the press with the ball under your other hand and roll again.
Reaching Romanian Deadlifts
This exercise works your balance and coordination as well as your core. Stand on one leg, holding the medicine ball in your hands out in front of you. Bend the knee of the standing leg slightly and extend your other leg behind you and your arms out in front of you to create a tabletop position. Return to the initial position and repeat.
One set should include around ten reps on each leg.
Medicine balls are a great weight for triceps extensions. Stand of sit in a comfortable position and hold the ball above your head in both hands, with one hand either side of the ball. Bend your arms backwards behind your head until the ball is in line with the base of your neck, and then lift it over your head again.
The superman is a great move for working into your hamstrings, back, and shoulders, muscles we often neglect as we focus on quads and core. Lie face down on the ground with your legs stretched out behind you and your arms extended in front of you, holding the ball. Tense your muscles to lift your hands and legs up off the floor as high as possible. Hold for a few second and return to the ground, then repeat.
In addition to these exercises, you can use the ball as a weight for any other bodyweight exercises such as lunges and deadlifts.
What is the best weight for a medicine ball?
The ideal weight for a medicine ball depends on your strength. Most balls will weigh somewhere between 4-15 pounds. You will want a ball that you can lift up from the ground overhead about 10 times comfortably but feeling a little bit of fatigue in the arms afterwards.
Are medicine balls with handles better?
Handles can make medicine balls easier to handle in exercises where you need to keep a good grip on the ball, such as triceps extensions and Russian twists. However, they can make the ball more difficult in handle in exercises that require throwing, catching, or rolling.
Kettlebells can be a good alternative to medicine balls when you need more control of your weight. Find our recommendations for the best kettlebells here.
Is a slam ball the same as a medicine ball?
Slam balls are basically the same as medicine balls, but they tend to have a thicker surface that makes them better for high impact throwing.
A medicine ball can make a great addition to your home gym set up. They are an extremely useful tool for core and full body workouts, and also adding weight to power moves. Medicine balls can also just be used like any other free weight to an intensity to standard bodyweight exercises.
Check out our recommendations for the five best medicine balls that you can buy today, as well as some of the best exercises that you can do with your ball.
- How You Should Use Medicine Balls In Your Workouts – MensHealth
- 9 Benefits of Medicine Ball Training – Origym
- 10 Best Medicine Ball Moves to Tone Every Muscle in Your Body – Healthline
- The Best Medicine Ball Exercises For All Levels of Gym-Goer – CoachMag
Last update on 2023-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API