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How to Exercise With a Medicine Ball at Home

A Versatile Home Gym Must Have: A Medicine Ball

When it comes to creating a home gym, you need space to do your exercises as well as store any large equipment. But here's a way to work your entire body without cluttering your living room with fitness equipment: invest in a medicine ball. It's easy to store and adds the right amount of challenge to many basic exercises.

Buy a medicine ball (it should be between six and 12 pounds, depending on your experience level) and learn these total-body moves below.

Seated Russian Twist
Photo: Megan Wolfe Photography at J+K Fitness Studio

This move tones your abs and helps whittle your waist. To do the seated Russian twist:

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your bum.
  • Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, so don't let it curve.
  • Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
  • Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one rep. Lift your feet off the ground for a more advanced variation.
  • Do 15-20 full rotations.

See the seated Russian twist in action in our video here.

Keep reading for three more medicine ball moves.

Medicine Ball Woodchop
Photo: Susi May

Can't get enough of moves that help define your waist? Try the medicine ball woodchop; celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson uses this move on his famously curvy and toned client Sofia Vergara. To do the medicine ball woodchop:

  • Start with the feet a little wider than hip distance apart, keeping the knees slightly bent.
  • Bend your elbows, bringing the ball to your left shoulder.
  • Pull your abs into your spine to stabilize your center.
  • On an exhale, bring the ball down diagonally across your body toward your right knee. Imagine you're chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your axe — the move is a bit percussive.
  • Don't twist through your knees, but really rotate through the trunk.
  • Control the ball back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.
  • Remember you are moving with force, but control. Don't give into the momentum of swinging the ball around.
  • Do three sets of 15 reps.

Medicine Ball Lunge
Photo: Megan Wolfe Photography at J+K Fitness Studio

Holding a medicine ball while you perform a lunge adds resistance to challenge your muscles. Add a twist to further work your core. To do the twisting medicine ball lunge:

  • Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and your chin up (pick a point to stare at in front of you so you don't keep looking down). Always engage your core.
  • Hold a medicine ball in front of your chest with elbows bent.
  • Step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your right knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn't touch the floor.
  • Twist your body so your torso and upper body point to the right. As you do this, reach with the medicine ball to the right (holding it with both hands). Make sure you are twisting from your torso and not your knee.
  • Keep your weight in your heels as you straighten and push back up to the starting position.
  • Alternate by doing the move with your left leg forward.
  • Do 10 reps on each side.

Push-Up Roll With Medicine Ball

This fun exercise challenges your core and balance and beats push-up boredom. To do:

  • Start in a plank position with your right hand on the medicine ball. The wider your feet, the easier the exercise. Remember, you can always try this on your knees. Make sure your hands are a little bit more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your elbows, lowering yourself toward the ground. Push yourself up, returning to your plank.
  • Using your right hand, pass the medicine ball to the left side. Place your left hand on top of the ball and repeat the push-up.
  • This completes one rep. Do five to seven reps for a set.

Watch our medicine ball video to learn more total-body moves with your new piece of equipment!

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