You might have seen medicine balls stacked at the gym or thrown around bootcamp studios. But if you never knew how or why to use them, we have the perfect total-body medicine ball workout that proves just how versatile this one piece of equipment is and how it can boost your fitness in a number of ways.
Dane Miklaus, C.S.C.S., founder of WORK Training Studio in Irvine, California created this workout to help take you out of your comfort zone by challenging your strength and stability in different ways—using just one medicine ball.
The Benefits of a Total Body Medicine-Ball Workout for Cyclists
The exercises Miklaus included will help you strengthen all your key cycling muscles to improve performance on the road, kick up your stamina, and help you sidestep injuries. Each exercise included in this routine also involves your entire body, with a focus on power and core control.
For instance, practicing jump lunges with a medicine ball slam will help you focus on plyometric power, core stabilization, and coordination, Miklaus says, while also getting your cardiorespiratory system to work in overdrive. The oblique toss also targets your midsection from a new angle, helping you build even more stability, while adding a skater helps you work in a new plane of motion to build up resiliency and strength in every direction.
How to use this list: This workout routine should be completed after a traditional warmup to prep the body for a more intense workout. Preform each exercise in the order listed below for the number of reps described. Complete 3 sets, resting as needed between exercises and sets.
Each move is demonstrated by Jodalyn Zambuto, certified personal trainer at WORK Training Studio in Irvine, California, so you can master the form. You will need a medicine ball and a wall to complete this workout. An exercise mat is optional.
1. Walking Lunge With Overhead Carry
Why it works: Carrying a medicine ball overhead will force you to engage your core even more than in a traditional lunge—which strengthens lower-body cycling muscles—while helping you practice a stable and upright posture.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a medicine ball overhead with arms straight, biceps by ears. Take a step forward with left leg, and bend both knees 90 degrees to drop right knee toward floor. Press into left foot to stand back up, bringing right foot forward and driving right knee toward chest. Then step forward with right foot and repeat. Continue alternating as you walk forward. Do 10 reps per leg.
2. Jump Lunge with Slam
Why it works: This move will force you to work on your coordination while helping you build strength and improve stability. By leaping up from the lunge position, you also build a power, says Miklaus.
How to do it: Start in a staggered stance with left leg forward and right leg behind. Hold the medicine ball in front of body at chest. Bend both knees 90 degrees to lower into a lunge. Drive through feet to jump up, switching legs and landing back into a lunge on the opposite side. As you jump up, reach the medicine ball overhead, and as you land, slam it to the floor, to the opposite side of front leg. Continue alternating lunges and slams. Do 10 reps per leg.
3. Wall Ball
Why it works: “You get strengthening and explosive power benefits from rapidly squatting and standing back up,” Miklaus says. You also fire up the core and strengthen the upper body. Miklaus suggests starting out with a light to moderate weight ball to focus on speed and height.
How to do it: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out, arm’s length away from a wall. Hold a medicine ball at your chest. Lower into a squat by sending hips down and back. Drive through feet to stand back up and as you do, through the ball against the wall above your head, extending arms. Catch the ball back at chest, then lower back into a squat. Repeat. Do 20 reps.
4. Skater With Oblique Toss
Why it works: Like many of the moves on this list, this exercise will force you out of your comfort zone. It trains your legs in multiple planes of motion, thanks to the skater, which also targets your abductors, strengthening your hips. The rotational toss also hits your oblique muscles—super important for core stability and posture.
How to do it: Start standing about arm’s length away from a wall, facing sideways with left arm closer to the wall. Hold a medicine ball below chest, arms underneath it. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and send hips back, keeping back flat and abs engaged. Bring left foot behind right. Then, push off right foot, jumping to the left and landing on left foot, right foot now reaching behind left. As you jump to the left, throw the ball against the ball. Catch the ball, then perform the skater back on the right side, bringing ball back in front of you. Do 12 to 15 reps. Then switch sides.
5. Alternating Oblique Toss
Why it works: This move emphasizes the obliques, as Miklaus says many people tend to neglect them. “Every time you catch the ball, think about pushing your tailbone back as if you were going to bump into someone, and then squeeze your glutes and stand up as forcefully as possible, making sure not to overextend the hips,” he explains. “Though most of the work in this exercise comes from your core, glutes, and hamstrings, you will also target the biceps and anterior deltoid muscles of your arms.”
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder width-apart, toes turned slightly out, and about arm’s length from a wall. Hold a medicine ball with both hands underneath it, below chest. Keeping core engaged, twist to the right. Then, toss the medicine ball to the wall as you rotate forward. Catch it, then twist to the left. Repeat. Continue alternating. Do 15 reps per side.
6. Triple Chest Toss to Burpee
Why it works: Miklaus says the burpee part of this move—which you can do by keeping the chest off the floor or by dropping into a push-up—adds a dynamic athletic movement that also forces core engagement. You challenge the muscles of the lower body in this exercise, while also recruiting the shoulders, chest, and triceps, along with all the deep core muscles.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, arm’s length away from a wall. Hold a medicine ball at chest. Toss the ball to the wall three times. Then, squat down placing the ball on the ground, jump back into a high plank position, hands on ball. Then jump the feet back in toward the ball. Repeat. Do 10 reps.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.