7 Best Medicine Ball Exercises for Beginners

man holding a purple exercise ball
Medicine ball routines can also be used effectively in partner workouts.

by Steven Auger

For what seems like forever, the standard way of working out in any gym involved lifting weights, using cardio machines or a combination of both. In recent years, however, all sorts of exciting training methods have become popular — such as functional fitness. According to the Mayo Clinic, "functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports."

Although not every facility has them, medicine balls are one way gym-goers are expanding their workout arsenal, and they're a fun way to introduce functional fitness exercises into your routine. If you have access to a medicine ball, why not try the best medicine ball exercises for beginners?

Medicine balls come in different weights and sizes. And the number of different exercises you can do to work different muscles is practically limitless, according to Men's Fitness. Best of all, you don't have to be a fitness expert to use a medicine ball. Fitbit notes there are many medicine ball exercises geared toward beginners. Check out these seven effective movements.

1. Close Grip Push-Up

Get on the floor and assume a push-up position. Instead of resting your hands on the floor, balance them on the medicine ball and then perform your push-ups. While this works the chest and upper arms, as push-ups typically do, it will also force you to engage your core to maintain your balance. You can modify this exercise by placing your knees on the floor.

2. Mountain Climber

If you've ever tried regular mountain climbers, you know what a great exercise they can be. Now add a medicine ball. Use the same positioning for a close grip push-up, hold that starting pose and draw a knee up toward your chest while keeping the other leg extended. Then, alternate between both knees and remember to breathe Including the medicine ball in this exercise challenges your stability, forcing you to engage that core!

3. Squats

Spread your feet about shoulder-width apart while holding the ball at chest-level with both hands. When you're ready, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then return to the starting position. You'll feel this one in your legs, glutes, abs and shoulders.

4. Medicine Ball Balance

Stand on one leg and hold the ball overhead with both hands for 30 seconds. Then, hold the ball in one hand, extend your arm out to the side and balance on the corresponding foot for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat the same routine while holding the ball in the opposite hand and balancing on the opposite leg. This will work your legs, glutes, shoulders, back and core.

5. Squat to Press

Start this movement by performing a squat as outlined above. As you raise your body back to a standing position and drive your heels into the floor, raise the medicine ball over your head. Then, lower the ball back to chest level. This constitutes one repetition.

6. Sit-Ups

With your feet and back flat on the floor, hold the medicine ball against your chest with both hands. Now, perform a typical sit-up and lower yourself back to the starting position. The extra weight helps engage your core even more.

7. Toe Touch

Lie flat on your back and raise your legs straight in the air so they're perpendicular to the floor. Position the medicine ball on the floor, above your head, and hold onto it with both arms extended. Then, lift your arms and torso until the ball touches your toes. Without moving your legs, engage your core and reach as far as you can.

Medicine ball routines can also be used effectively in partner workouts. Sharing a medicine ball allows one partner to rest while the other works — or you and your workout buddy can use two balls and plow through sets together.

If you're looking to change up your routine or work different muscle groups at once, select a movement from the list above or ask a trainer at your gym what they consider to be the best medicine ball exercises. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.