How To

15-minute FITNESS: Five Great Medicine Ball Exercises

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Five Great Medicine Ball Exercises | ActionHub

A medicine ball can provide a great cost-effective workout. (Image courtesy of kzenon/iStock)

Like many people, I’d rather not know how much money I’ve spent on gym memberships and yoga passes over the years. Though both environments can provide fantastic workouts, some of us struggle a bit more than others when it comes to motivating ourselves to actually get there—especially in the cold winter months. Although I’ve found I’m great at attending classes when I find a routine I truly enjoy, there are just some days I’d rather hide at home.

But a few months ago, I was inspired by Women’s Health Fitness Director Jen Ator, who I interviewed for an ActionHub feature story about her training for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, which was held last weekend. She succeeded, by the way.

In the interview, Ator reminded me just how simple it is to fit in short workouts throughout the day, rather than relying on one long one. So, instead of bailing on my workout completely, I’ve started incorporating a short 15-minute medicine ball routine into my schedule on the days when I’m either too busy for a full yoga class, or simply too lazy. Here are five of my favorite medicine ball exercises:

Russian Twists

Sit on the ground, hold the ball with both hands, and lean back while bending your legs at a 90-degree angle. Extend the ball out in front of you and alternate crunching the ball to the right and left sides with a twist.

Sets: 3
Reps: 15 on each side (30 per set)
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

Russian Twist (Image courtesy of CREATISTA/iStock)

Russian Twists (Image courtesy of CREATISTA/iStock)

V-Ups

Lie on your back with legs extended and hold the ball behind your head with both hands, arms fully extended. Keep your legs straight, tighten your core, and raise your legs, reaching for your toes while still holding the ball in your hands. Your body should be in a V shape mid-way through each rep.

Sets: 3
Reps: 20
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

V-Ups (Image courtesy of LivestrongWoman/YouTube)

V-Ups (Image courtesy of LivestrongWoman/YouTube)

Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Just like a traditional push-up, except you put your hands on the medicine ball instead of the floor. I prefer this exercise to the traditional form because it requires more core strength and focus on balance. If you want something a bit different, try the Puncher’s Push-Up, which requires you to put only one hand on the ball at a time (see below).

Sets: 3
Reps: 25 (or 10 on each side per set for the Puncher’s Push-Up)
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

Puncher's Push Up. (Image courtesy of MeikePetri/iStock)

Puncher’s Push Up (Image courtesy of MeikePetri/iStock)

Twist & Squat

While standing with straight legs, hold the ball out in front of you with straight arms. Twist to the right, come back to the center and squat, then straighten your legs, twist to the left, come back to the center and squat again—you get the picture. If you want even more of a workout, lift the medicine ball above your head each time you squat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10 (right twist, squat, left twist, squat=1 rep)
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

Twist & Squat (Image courtesy of AmmentorpDK/iStock)

Twist & Squat (Image courtesy of AmmentorpDK/iStock)

Lunge Twist 

Stand while holding the medicine ball in both hands. Step forward into a lunge with your right leg and twist the medicine ball to the left. Repeat on the other side. If you’d rather, step forward with the left foot and twist to the left, and step forward with the right foot and twist to the right—the way you twist just depends on how good your balance is. Make sure to keep movements slow and work on your balance, as that’s the key to this exercise. Great for core and leg strength.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10 (five on each side)
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

Lunge Twist - see how happy she looks! (Image courtesy of starush/iStock)

Lunge Twist – see how happy she looks! (Image courtesy of starush/iStock)

In Conclusion: Medicine balls can be somewhat expensive depending on weight and quality of the brand, but they’re a great multipurpose workout tool, which, in my mind, makes them worth the money. If you still don’t want to shell out the cash, check around for used ones—sometimes gyms will get rid of theirs when they get a bit worn out, so it’s worth asking to see if you can buy one at a discounted price. If you can get over the fact that hundreds of other people have used them, it’s a good option. If you want to do this workout today but don’t own a medicine ball, get creative. I remember a few times in college I just filled up my backpack with textbooks in order to do Russian Twists—it wasn’t ideal, but it did the trick. Just search around your house for an object that will suffice until you can go out and purchase the real thing.

What are your favorite medicine ball exercises? Add them in the comment section below.

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