Medicine balls

How to train with a medicine ball?

Medical ball training promotes the strength and fitness and improves coordination. Therefore, one exercises with medicine balls are part of workout for team and competitive athletes and at home or in the studio. What makes a medicine ball so special is its universal applicability: its weight can be used to support strength exercises and certain throwing exercises that strengthen throwing power and body coordination. In some sports, targeted exercises to improve an athlete's technique and strength are possible. However, most variants of medical ball training are sports-independent.

Training variant 1: Medicine balls as fitness equipment

To do an efficient workout with a medicine ball, all you need is some space and a gym mat. Even classic exercises such as knee bends, sit-ups or push-ups are much more demanding when using the heavy balls. For example, when resting one hand on a medicine ball during push-ups, the body must use the back muscles to balance much more than with normal push-ups. Floating exercises are also very efficient for the daily workout, where the athlete sits on the floor and slightly lifts the angled legs. The ball is held in the stretched arms and guided from right to left and back again by rotation of the upper body. The legs tilt slightly to the opposite side of the ball. This way both the abdominal and the lower back muscles can be trained very well. In the workout, ten to 15 repetitions should be performed for each of the exercises shown.

A good whole-body workout in such a workout is also diagonal lifting: move the ball from bottom left to top right from a deep knee bend. At the beginning of the exercise, you squat down and then straighten up, while your arms are stretched diagonally upwards over your head with the ball. Ten to 15 repetitions per side are also recommended for this exercise.

Fitness includes strength, stretch and balance. All three factors can be promoted with a simple medical ball exercise: the standing balance. To do this, bend the upper body forward from a standing position and stretch one leg backwards. At the same time, hold the ball in front of your chest. When the balance is reached, place it carefully on the floor and lift it immediately. This should be done about ten times for each leg.

Training variant 2: Medicine balls for special training in ball sports

In ball sports such as basketball, handball or volleyball, the aim is to combine technique with throwing power and explosiveness to achieve success. Coordination skills are also important to be able to optimally implement movement sequences and handling of the ball. All these factors can be very well trained using the medical ball.

Exercises for throwing power are very popular: throw the medicine ball over your head or play it in front of your chest as a pressure pass. The whole thing can be used both in individual training against a wall and in training with a partner. When catching a ball thrown this way, however, caution is advised, as it is not so easy to stop medicine balls due to their high weight as handball or volleyball balls. Therefore, you should always catch a medicine ball with both hands.

The “Eights†exercise is also suitable for medical ball training in ball sports. It can be used during the warm-up phase of a training session, for example. The ball must be passed with the hands between the legs, which are set up at shoulder width, in the form of an “8â€. This enables the ball to be moved in the lower back and improves coordination. Such skills are particularly important in sports such as handball and basketball, where balls must be moved in a controlled manner when dribbling. In volleyball, on the other hand, medicine ball training helps to strengthen the musculature in the fingers so that the strength and precision of the platform are improved. A short training session of about five minutes in which two players throw the medicine ball at each other in a high bow is helpful. In this case, the typical hand position for spiking should be used when throwing.



How to train with a medicine ball?
Where does the term medicine ball come from?
Medicine ball training in football
What exercises can you do with a medicine ball?
Full-body use in training with a medicine ball
What strengthening exercises can you do with a medicine ball?
Where can I get a medicine ball at a reasonable price?
What’s the size and weight of a medicine ball?
In which sports do you need a medicine ball?
Medicine balls for football and similar ball sports
Medicine balls in a classic workout


Where does the term medicine ball come from?

A medicine ball weighs about 0.8 to 10 kg. It is either made of very thick leather or a special rubber material. The most common models have an approximate diameter of 30 to 35 cm and an average weight of 5 kilograms. This is a full ball, i.e. a ball that has not been inflated with air. The ball was initially filled with animal hair and later with a granulate (“corg granulateâ€).

The actual term and/or name "medicine ball" comes from the United States. There these special balls were used within the range of the medicine, because throwing and catching of such a medicine ball stresses all muscles and joints. The inventor of the medicine ball is William Muldoon, who lived in New York City from 1853 to 1933. Muldoon worked full-time as a policeman and took part in various boxing and wrestling tournaments in his spare time. While training, he integrated the medicine ball into his training for the first time and even developed special exercises with this training device. It cannot be dated exactly when this special ball found its way from the United States to Germany. Various historians and experts estimate that medical balls were first used in Germany between 1925 and 1933.

Various exercises are possible!

Even if such a ball is a very outdated training device, it is still used today. The medicine ball, for example, is very well suited for training explosiveness and dynamics. Contrary to many other training devices with weights, such a medicine ball is suitable for different throwing exercises. Throwing the medicine ball back and forth with a training partner or against a wall can strengthen the torso muscles.

A medicine ball can be used for throwing, but also serves very well as a kind of additional degree of difficulty in various exercises. By adding a medicine ball, simple and ordinary movement amplitudes can become a more demanding exercise. A prime example are push-ups, where the hands lie on two medicine balls. In order to prevent one from tilting to one side, the back muscles must also be used. However, this is only one of many exercises that can be performed with the help of a medicine ball. The most different areas can be trained with the help of a medicine ball. These include, for example, bottom, legs, stomach, back muscles or shoulders. However, when training the individual parts of the body, it is important that the exercises are supervised by a professionally trained person. This is the only way to ensure that different muscle areas are not overstretched or overloaded. Otherwise there is a risk of long-term damage in these areas.

Medicine ball training in football

A few years ago, there was a true advocate of medical ball training in professional sport, i.e. in the first Bundesliga. We are talking about Felix "Quälix" Magath. He was the head coach of various Bundesliga teams, including FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Munich. At that time Magath was known for his very hard training methods. Among them was the training with a medicine ball. Felix Magath trained physically weaker players with medicine balls of different weight classes until they were completely exhausted. The aim was to improve the assertiveness and dynamics of individual players.

What exercises can you do with a medicine ball?

A medicine ball is suitable for training in various sports. With the balls available in different sizes and weight classes, you can increase your strength. The exercises in which medical balls are used are also very effective for general fitness and improvement of coordination. Whether in the training of a handball or volleyball team or during a workout in the gym: medicine balls are part of the basic equipment. To efficiently train strength, coordination and fitness, the right exercises with such a ball are important.

Exercises for the upper body

To improve strength and stability in the upper body, rotation exercises with medicine balls are recommended. This includes, for example, the torso circles: When the legs are set up shoulder-wide, the ball is guided with the arms around the torso.

Throwing exercises with medicine balls can also do a lot for the throwing power during training, because the torso muscles are specifically strengthened. In this exercise, the medicine ball is guided behind the head with both hands, the legs are shoulder-wide apart, and the knees are slightly angled. In a fluid movement, the ball is then thrown forward over the head, whereby it is deliberately bounced from the knees.

A pressure pass exercise can be performed with a similar technique. However, the ball must be held in front of the chest with both hands and pushed away from the body with as much force as possible. If you stand sideways to the wall, you can also do a so-called rotation throw. Such exercise sequences in medicine ball training are particularly suitable, for example, for handball players who need explosiveness and dynamics in their throws.

Volleyball players, on the other hand, prefer to use medicine balls in player training: High throws at the partner improve the strength in the hands. What is important, however, is that medical balls should never be spiked, because they are too heavy for that â€" which can lead to injuries of the fingers.

Full-body use in training with a medicine ball

Different exercise variations with medicine balls also have the effect of the entire body training. For special strength and fitness training, for example, a lunge with a medicine ball is suitable: To do this, spread your legs wide apart and take the ball with your hands loosely positioned in front of your body. Then make a large lunge step forward. Both legs should have a 90-degree flexion in the knee joints. At the same time the medicine ball is lifted over the head and held there.

Suspended sitting is recommended as an effective gymnastic full-body exercise with medicine balls: while the upper body and legs are held in suspension and may not be set down, the medicine ball is guided over the body from right to left with stretched arms. This exercise is particularly suitable for training the straight and lateral abdominal muscles and the lower back.

You can also improve your fitness in the workout with medicine balls through exercises such as the back extensor: In the belly position, lift your legs and upper body off the floor while holding the ball with your stretched arms. Knee bends, in which the arms are lifted over the head with the medicine ball during the downward movement, are also part of efficient medicine ball training to strengthen the whole body. The training exercises, which become more demanding and therefore more effective using such a ball, also include push-ups, in which one or both hands are supported on medicine balls, as well as sit-ups with a medicine ball in the hands.

A good exercise in the daily workout with the heavy balls is also the so-called sprint movement: To do this, put the ball in a push-up position, support the hands on the medicine ball and alternately pull the left and right knees towards the chest and then stretch the leg out again.

In order to be able to carry out medicine ball training as safely and efficiently as possible, you should rely on balls that lie well in the hand and have a slightly nubbed surface for high grip. Also, the weight should not be too high: Experts recommend using balls for the workout to promote fitness and coordination, with which ten repetitions of an exercise can be performed at high speed. If you don't want to do any throwing or passing exercises during medical ball training, you can also use medical ball models with a fixed handle.

What strengthening exercises can you do with a medicine ball?

The medicine balls remain unnoticed in some gyms, although they are without doubt just as versatile as effective training devices. The medicine ball was a bit neglected when speed and dynamics were insignificant in the fitness business. The stress during training was kept comparatively low because all exercises were supercritically checked for possible risks of injury. Instead of training with free devices in complex movements related to everyday life, lying or sitting isolation exercises were the order of the day.

However, the time of isolated strengthening exercises seems to be over. With CrossFit, Functional Training, Core Training and other new trends, traditional training equipment is currently experiencing a deserved comeback.

The medicine ball

There are medicine balls with different material characteristics and different diameters - for example as air-filled plastic balls or as cow leather balls with special animal hair filling. The latter are particularly stable during support exercises but have comparatively low bounce characteristics. Plastic balls, on the other hand, jump better and are less stable during support exercises.

In sports shops you can find medicine balls with varying weights from 500 g to 10 kg. The selection should be based on the intended training exercises, for example in football training. Further criteria are the athlete's personal performance level and the planned number of repetitions depending on the training goal.

Beginners should start their training with a lighter medicine ball. Later they will be able to increase their weight when their individual performance level gradually improves.

The ball exercises are usually an effective part of a circular training with 6 to 10 stations. Depending on the goal of the training, the number of repetitions completed, and the duration can vary.

1. Focus on muscle building:

  • 8 to 20 repetitions 1.25 to 2.5 minutes Set duration between 30 and 50 percent Maximum strength intensity
  • 1 to 3 sets per exercise less than 60 seconds break

2. Focus on strength endurance:

  • 20 to 40 repetitions 1.25 to 2.5 minutes Set duration between 50 and 80 percent maximum force intensity
  • 1 to 3 sets per exercise 60 to 180 seconds break

To improve fitness, a workout optimally trains the entire upper body and legs. The improved fitness and the increased strength pay off when practicing numerous sports, for example football.

Effective exercises in the workout

Overhead throw

Starting from the stable, hip-width position of the legs, first hold the medicine ball behind the head. Then throw it strongly over your head onto a massive wall and catch it again.

Eight circles

Medicine balls are guided around and through the legs as “lying eights†within a wide squatting position.

Rotational throw

The starting position is a hip-wide straddle stand to a solid wall. Eyes look straight ahead. Now the upper body rotates, the look turns to the wall. Throw the ball towards the wall and catch it. The upper body now turns back to its starting position.

Pressure pass

The first stage starts with the hip width and stable stand. Hold the ball in front of the chest. Then throw it as a powerful pass against the wall and catch it again.


In a hip wide position, stand about 3 feet from the wall. Place the medicine ball between the lumbar region of the back and the wall and hold a second ball low in front of the body. Now bend the legs until you reach horizontal thighs. At the same time the stretched arms lift the medicine ball up to shoulder height. Then lower your arms and stretch your legs.

Pelvis lfting

The starting position is the shoulder support with the feet on the ball. The arms are placed next to the body. Now the buttocks are lifted so that an imaginary line is formed between the legs and the upper body. Hold the position slightly, then return.


While the hands are placed on the ball in the push-up position, the torso is tense. The arms are bent and then stretched with the elbows pointing outwards.


When lying on your back, put your legs on the ball and hold it in your hands. Raise your upper body slowly from the ground and stand upright, moving the ball towards your knees. Return to starting position.

If you remember your own school sport, you inevitably remember the pictures of the mat trolley, the equipment room, but also the three medicine balls that were used, sometimes mouldy and heavy. Very few people enthusiastically bought their own ball after school but moved it to the virtual mat room of memory instead. By the time a visit to an orthopaedist is due because of back pain, the orthopaedist might recommend medical training therapy or cross training. Suddenly there it is again this hard, somewhat angular ball made of heavy leather and with a heavy filling, whose history goes back to the 19th century.

Lunge steps with rotation or front lifting, different rotation throws, and sprint movements are some further strengthening exercises with medicine balls.

Where can I get a medicine ball at a reasonable price?

No matter how traditional the exercises with this roundish companion may be, the more fun it is for example in circuit training and in the group. And it canalso happen that your primary school classmate has this once unloved medicine ball as decoration in his own four walls, thirty years later.

But back to the importance of sports and exercise equipment, whats a medicine ball undoubtedly is: Training with a medicine ball can work wonders and offer an exciting alternative for home use. Different parts of the body can be strengthened and supported with targeted training. The medicine balls are usually in sizes between one and five kg - there are also extremes above or below this.

The initial question, where to get the medicine balls at the best price, is easy to answer. On various shopping portals in the field of sports medicine and physiotherapy you can get an initial overview of different price categories and available equipment. If you train only occasionally, you should also look for cheap used equipment, that can be found in some sports portals, and local daily press. You can also buy the medicine balls in the sports shops. The advantage of this is that you can order the desired size and weight of the ball.

With all these offers it is important to know whether the medicine balls are used or new. The balls are produced mainly in Asia and in some cases in Eastern Europe. This also has an impact on quality and prices. Another possibility to buy medical balls at low prices is at closures of sports clubs, or fitness studios that close and sell the medicine balls that are no longer needed. Here, too, it makes sense to compare prices.

What’s the size and weight of a medicine ball?

Anyone who engages actively in sport has held it in their hands before. Almost everyone has at least seen or heard of it: the medicine ball.

This sport equipment is very popular among athletes, although it is a very simple training aid. Perhaps this simplicity is the reason for the enormous popularity.

A medicine ball is a ball that, unlike most other balls, is not inflated with air, but is made entirely of material and is therefore called "full ball". For the production mostly leather or rubber material is used.

Medicine balls can have a different size, whereby the most common models are between 30 to 35 cm in diameter and a weight of up to about five kg. However, the range is very wide, so you will often find weight classes from 0.8 to 10 kilograms and sizes from 19 centimeters in diameter on the market. Smaller or larger models are almost impossible to find, and you can consider them as true "exotics".

The invention of the medicine ball is attributed to a US policeman of the 19th century. The name of the ball also comes from the American linguistic area and is since the exercises with medicine balls generally have a health-promoting effect, since when throwing and catching the ball not only individual muscle groups, but almost the entire musculature of the body is stressed and strengthened.

Since the ball is a device that you can throw or catch and support yourself or balanced on it, it can be successfully integrated into almost any sport during training.

Even today, medicine balls are used for general strengthening of the muscles during the build-up of fitness and strength in team sports, as well as in the training of individual sports for strengthening the body, but also for simultaneously increasing the sense of balance. Even martial artists like to use these devices to improve their balance and do fall and roll exercises with the ball in their hands in order to improve their mobility and finesse.

The larger balls are naturally ideal for muscle building exercises. The big advantage over other weights is the spherical shape, which makes holding or getting caught between the legs more difficult and requires constant balancing. This also means that smaller muscle and tendon groups are stressed, which are otherwise rarely required.

The smaller versions of the medicine balls are also suitable as weight-bearing weights. Their greatest advantage, however, unfolds during exercises in which the athlete stands on them or rests on them (e.g. one-handed or two-handed during the execution of push-ups). This increases the sense of balance enormously and requires a significantly higher number of muscle groups to balance the movements of the body on the moving ball.

Depending on the size of the ball, the medicine balls can be used for an incredibly wide range of sports exercises - even with a relatively small financial investment, as the production is simple and relatively uncomplicated.


In which sports do you need medicine balls?

Since strength, good coordination, a strong sense of balance, high speed and good body control are important in most sports, medicine balls can be used in any training. Whether football, tennis, rugby, handball, strength training or running training: The weights in the form of a ball are helpful training devices in every area. They are also very suitable for regular workout to increase general fitness. Apart from being used as additional weights for strength training, they also help with balance and coordination training.

Medicine balls in football and similar ball sports

In team sports training such as football, medical balls are used both to strengthen important muscle groups and for the targeted strengthening of the entire musculoskeletal system and the promotion of coordination skills. For example, a medical ball can be used to supplement the movement course on a coordination ladder with a further challenge for the athletes - in that they must let the ball rotate around their body with their hands while completing a certain sequence of steps. Slalom runs can also be made even more efficient simply by including the medicine ball. Professional football coach Felix Magath, for example, is notorious for his hard training with medicine balls.

However, the heavy balls are not only suitable as additional weights during running and coordination exercises. Exercises with medicine balls, which include throwing and catching, are especially useful in sports where you must throw balls. These include basketball, volleyball, water polo and handball. A typical exercise in this area is the so-called pressure pass, in which the ball is held with both hands in front of the chest and played with high pressure against a wall or a training partner. Also, overhead throws with medicine balls against a wall or on the floor are very effective exercises to equally train strength and precision. However, the athlete must not lean too far into the cross when throwing the ball, otherwise injuries may occur due to the additional weight of the ball. Another possibility is to set up the ball sideways against a wall and to throw the medicine ball out of the upper body rotation. Also popular is the so-called backward toss, in which the player stands with his back against the wall or his partner and throws the ball backwards over his head. The arms should be stretched, and the swing should come from the knees and the upper body.

Apart from these targeted ball sports exercises, medical ball exercises are of course also recommended for training in team sports, as they are used in the classic workout to improve physical fitness.

Medicine balls in a classic workout

Medicine balls can be used in the workout to make classic fitness exercises such as knee bends, crunches or push-ups more demanding. Push-ups with one hand resting on the ball are not only efficient as strength training, but the back muscles are also particularly well trained because they constantly must balance the movements of the ball. Medicine ball training is also very helpful during exercises in floating position: the athlete lifts his legs slightly while sitting on the ground and holds the ball in his hands. He now guides the ball, for example in the form of an 8 in a constant movement through the legs or by rotating the upper body from his left to his right side and back again. The effort of these exercises quickly becomes noticeable, because the additional weight puts a great strain on the lateral and straight abdominal muscles. Also, well suited for the workout at home, in the hall or in the studio are lunges in which you hold the medicine ball in the stretched arms and with a straight upper body and rotate it with an upper body rotation in the direction of the front leg.

Also, a good exercise for strength and balance: classic standing balance, where you hold the medicine ball with stretched arms.