While kettlebells may be all the rage and dumbbells never go out of fashion, its time to give some love to the no-frills medicine ball. Great for at-home workouts or at the gym, weighted med balls can target just about every muscle group, improve coordination, challenge core stability, and increase grip strength, too. You can balance on a medicine ball, press it, toss it, and use it to add resistance to squats and lunges. Add in the benefits of high-intensity interval training, and this HIIT workout really packs a punch. Ready to have a ball? Try this short but intense circuit from DailyBurn trainer Anja Garcia.
Medicine Ball HIIT Workout: Exercise How-Tos
1. Side Lunge and Press
This move is all about speed and power. Unleash your inner baller and press with force while pivoting your feet.
How to: (a) Start in a standing position, feet together, medicine ball held at the chest. Lunge the right leg to the right side (toes should land at a 45-degree angle) until the knee is nearly at a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously, bring the ball to the right foot, an inch or two from the ground, then drive from the right foot to return to standing. (b) Without pausing in the middle, pivot the feet while twisting the body to the left, and press the ball with speed and power to the left corner of the room. Make sure not to shrug the shoulders.
2. Lunge Reverse Swing
Start with a lighter weight ball on this one (or even a dumbbell for a practice round) — no one wants a broken window or a massive hole in the wall.
How to: (a) Start in a standing position, holding the medicine ball in front of the belly. (b) Lunge the left leg forward until the leg forms a 90-degree angle. The toes should be facing forward, and the right knee can be slightly bent. With a slight arch in the back, swing the ball up to the sky (the end of the range of movement should be just behind the head) bending deeper into the lunge. Swing the ball back to its start position to return to standing.
3. Med Ball Push-Ups
Don’t let those elbows flare! Get the most out of these deep push-ups by keeping the elbows in tight all the way through the movement.
How to: (a) Start in a plank position, one hand on the ground (arm fully extended), the other on a medicine ball with a slight bend in the elbow. The body should form a straight line from toe to crown of the head with a neutral spine (the butt shouldn’t dip or bow out to the ceiling). (b) Lower to a push-up position, elbows tucked into the side (at the end of the movement, both bent arms should be close to the body with the elbow pointing upward, the wrist inline with the chest). Press back to the initial plank position, then roll the ball to the other hand to complete a ball push-up on the other side.
4. Single Leg Butt Lift
If things feel too unstable, roll up a small towel and place it behind the ball.
How to: (a) Start on your back with the right knee bent, foot on the medicine ball. The other leg will be straight up in the air, foot flexed, hardly any bend in the knee. Arms should rest by the sides, palms down to the ground. (b) Push through the right heel to press the body into a bridge position, driving the left leg further toward the ceiling (still remaining as perpendicular to the floor as possible). The torso should be in a straight line at about a 30-degree angle. Lower the body back to the start position, without touching the butt back down to the ground.
5. Sit Up and Slam
Really think about using your abs to move the medicine ball rather than the momentum of the arms.
How to: (a) Start by lying on your back, feet flat to the ground, less than a foot away from your butt. Reach the medicine ball overhead, without letting it rest on the ground. The arms can have a slight bend at the elbows. (b) Sit up, while keeping the ball overhead, then twist the torso to the left side (bringing the ball a few inches from the left knee). Swing the ball back up above the head, then lower the torso and arms back to the lying position (the ball still should not touch the ground between reps). Repeat on the other side.
6. Lunge Jump Chop
To modify, step into a standing position between each lunge and pause for just a moment before lunging with the opposition leg.
How to: (a) Start in a standing position then move into a lunge on the left leg (both legs should make a 90-degree angle). During the lunge, swing the medicine ball from its overhead position to the left side of the body, a few inches from the hip. (b) Swing the ball back to the ceiling while hopping into a right lunge — hop the right foot forward, the left foot back. Both feet should land at the same time. (c) During the hop, chop the medicine ball over to the right side of the body.