T Nation

The Medicine Ball


Are there medicine ball exercises you consider indespensable? Most searches yield little more than a bunch of twisting abdominal exercises.

If I'm in the market for one, what brand, weight and material should I look for? I need something that can take a beating, obviously. The gym I'm using at the moment has a set of Dynamax medicine balls and I tend to stick to the 20lb. for slams, but it seems like they're not holding up very well.

I appreciate any input.


No. I've found most medicine ball activities highly overrated.

I enjoy the medicine ball "games", such as using a medicine ball to play handball in a racquet ball court, or tennis court. I like some of the partner drills people do sometimes mixing in ab work or whatever.

I think it's a fun/varied way to accomplish something that could be accomplished more efficiently other ways.

I'm very interested in other people's responses.


Thank you. Yeah, I'd like to hear some more opinions on the matter, but judging from the crickets I'm going to assume it's not really a popular tool.


Med balls. Meh. Plyoballs rock though. Throw them very hard at concrete walls or floors and catch them. This gives really good practice at explosive movement followed by absorption. Closer you get to the wall, the faster and more solid you have to be to catch them. Problem with med balls is that they aren't so good for solo work and with a partner you can't really launch them without hurting the other guy.

Guess you could always try Hoover Ball. (Anyone but me know about that?) President Hoover was getting out of shape so his doctor created this med ball game over a high net for him and his friends. It has been described as "playing volleyball over your house with a frozen turkey."

-- jj


Hoover Ball. Cool piece of historical exercise trivia. Thank you for that. The plyoball stuff sounds good. I appreciate the information. Any opinion on medicine ball material? Stick to leather?


I think med ball throws are great for activation and explosive work (I really only use them at the beginning of workouts to warm up the CNS and get in the zone), but I don't think they are too valuable for strength or hypertrophy work.


Its not much for strength...I have a 12lb rubber one that I use for bounce drills and such. It definately works your core and endurance. Its more of a crossfit drill if you will. But for muscle size it is not.


I'm not really into the hypertrophy game. I was thinking as far as general conditioning, and wondering which, if any, medicine ball exercises reap benefits that carry over into combat sports. A strong core is invaluable, obviously, but as far as increasing punching power, I'm hazy.

I did a Tabata style medicine ball slam routine the other day. Shit got rough.


Most of them will translate over into combat sports.

Rotational slams against the walls are a solid one. I like to end hard sessions with over head slams and just let it all out on those. Med ball toss games are great conditioning exercises. Try med ball mini tennis where you only play in the service boxes it will kill you. Its almost infinite what you can do with them but I like them mostly for explosive movement drills.


Back when I was teaching elementary school phys ed, I tried to figure out a way to have the fifth and sixth graders play this, but I didn't actually have enough faith that each class wouldn't end with a half-dozen missing teeth and bloody noses.

In general, I've found medicine balls most useful when used for their main purpose - as a heavy thing that can be thrown. I mostly use it as a conditioning tool, the old "throw and chase for time." 10 or 15 minutes of throwing a 8-10 pound ball all sorts of ways, running to it, and throwing it again, gets brutal. I picked this drill up many, many moons ago here:

The medicine ball slam is also one of the most challenging ab exercises I've found, if it's done right (actually using the abs and not the back/shoulders/arms).


golden. Should have thought to go to elitefts for med ball purchase as well.