Working out doesn’t have to be complicated — and on days you’re super busy without the time needed to get to the gym, it doesn’t have to be. This medicine-ball workout proves it.
This routine, designed by Samantha Parker, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, yoga therapist, kinesiophobia cognitive and movement specialist, and CEO of Neoteric Movement Systems , just requires one medicine ball , a sturdy wall and enough space to roll out a yoga mat if you want one.
“These movements mimic many of the core weight-training exercises you’re probably familiar with, from squats to lunges to presses, but with some integrated yoga-inspired movement patterns that require a lot of body control,” Parker says. “In this way, you can really challenge yourself without the need for a lot of equipment. It’s a perfect fitness pick-me-up on days you only have about 20 minutes or so and can’t squeeze in your regular session.”
Targets: Legs, back, shoulders, arms
Find a wall that can take a hard toss from a medicine ball — preferably brick or concrete. Start in a squat position, holding the ball in front of your chest with a hand on each side. As you stand up, throw the ball forcefully from above your head into the wall, and then catch the ball as you come back down into a squat position.
Targets: Back, shoulders, arms, core
Kneel on one leg next to a wall a few feet away from it, with the leg closest to the wall bent to a 90-degree angle. Holding the medicine ball with both hands, twist toward the opposite side of the wall, reaching toward your heels. Then, engaging your abs, twist forward and toss the ball onto the wall. Try to catch the ball on the rebound, absorbing and controlling the momentum as you do so, and smoothly twist back toward your heels. Complete 15 reps, then switch positions to work the opposite side.
“If you have trouble catching the ball, just stop it as it bounces back and pick it up,” Parker says. “If the issue continues over the course of a few workouts, you can also slow down the speed and/or the intensity you throw it against the wall. As you practice the movement, the coordination needed to make the catch will eventually get easier.”
Targets: Legs, core
Stand holding a medicine ball at chest height. Step backward into a lunge and simultaneously, in a smooth twisting motion, swing the ball outside your front leg (think swinging an ax). As you step back to the start position, bring your feet together and lift the ball up toward the sky. Repeat on the opposite side and continue alternating — one step to each side equals one rep. Make sure to keep your abs tight to protect your lower back throughout the exercise.
“Lunging to the rear improves cognitive function and spatial awareness, since you’re moving in a plane the body typically doesn’t work in,” Parker points out. “The backward movement also helps to target the muscles at different angles, leading to an overall stronger muscle.”
Targets: Legs, chest, shoulders, triceps
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a ball in both hands at your chest. Start by pressing the ball overhead, then hinge at your hips to bring the ball down to the floor. Next, quickly step back to assume a plank position, putting one hand on the floor and one on the ball. Perform a push-up, then switch hands to do a second push-up. Bring your feet under you, grab the ball and stand, assuming the start position.
“Beginners can do a push-up without placing their hand on top of the ball and lower their knees to the floor,” Parker says. “And for those who want more of a challenge, instead of just pressing the ball upward, throw it and catch it. Also, work on jumping back into the plank instead of stepping back, and add a jump as you return to the start position.”
Targets: Hamstrings, lower back, abdominals
Lying on your back on the floor, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor hip-distance apart near your glutes. With your spine straight and core tight, place the medicine ball between your knees and hold it there. Lift your hips upward until your torso forms a straight line from your knees to the top of your spine, then slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat for reps.
Targets: Core, back, legs
Sit on the floor, placing your knees and shins together, and lean back slightly to activate your abs. Place the medicine ball on your shins, keeping them parallel to the floor. (You also can place your hands behind you on the floor to help provide your back with support if you need to.) Holding this position, extend your feet toward the opposite side of the room and lower them down slightly as you maintain the shins-parallel position. Once you reach a point as far as you can go while maintaining balance, bring your knees back to the 90-degree starting angle in a slow, controlled manner.
“Don’t allow your ankles to drop below the level of your knees,” Parker says. “And be mindful of keeping your back nice and long and your core tight.”
Stand holding the medicine ball in both hands with your palms facing in. Unweight one leg, extending it slightly behind you so that you’re balanced fully on the planted leg. Keeping your body straight and long from the top of your head to the planted leg, shoulders drawn back and core tight, extend your elbows to lower the ball toward your hips, then flex your biceps to bring the ball back to your chest. Complete 15 reps, then switch leg positions and do another 15.
“Standing on one foot helps with your spatial awareness and vestibular health to enhance balance,” Parker says.