For those who have never visited the world’s smallest continent, it may surprise you to learn that “balls out” is a popular phrase in Australia — and it doesn’t actually have the graphic meaning you may expect. In fact, it roughly translates to “in all honesty,” which seems very fitting for this workout — a routine that, in the words of famous Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, we honestly love.
“Medicine balls are incredible tools to incorporate into your workout because they provide some much-needed muscle confusion, while keeping things fresh and interesting,” explains Sammie Kennedy, a certified personal trainer and fitness expert. Kennedy also adds “balance enhancement” to her list of medicine ball benefits, explaining that using this workout tool relies on a range of core and stabilizing muscles, throwing an extra challenge into the mix. “You hold a ball very differently from a dumbbell,” she notes. “This variation allows you to challenge your muscles in a different manner than you would when doing a standard resistance-training workout.”
Not only is this program a test for your muscles, but it also pushes the limitations of your cardiovascular system, helping to truly keep you in the pink of health. Kennedy recommends completing this routine as a timed circuit or, if you’d rather ditch the stopwatch, aim for five rounds, completing 20 reps of each exercise. Regardless of the method you choose, you can expect to see results in as little as four to six weeks. We guarantee that this is one routine you won’t want to give up on because — balls out — it’s the total fit-and-fun package.
Med Ball Madness Workout
Do the exercises back-to-back for the amount of time specified and in the order shown without rest. When you get to the end of the round, rest for 30 seconds before going on to the next round.
Overhead Medicine Ball Slam
Targets: Lats, glutes, quads, shoulders
Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, your ribcage stacked above your pelvis, and your core engaged. Raise a medicine ball above your head while keeping your arms straight. Engage your core as you forcefully throw the ball downward, aiming to make maximum impact with the mat or the floor. Be aware of any bounce back, and catch the ball to repeat. If you are not using a ball that bounces, perform a squat to retrieve the ball before standing back up and returning to your starting position.
Tip: Before you get started, make sure that your medicine ball is designed to withstand the high impact of this exercise.
Squat with Static Ball Hold
Targets: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your medicine ball with both hands, extending your arms in front of you. Be sure to keep your shoulder blades back and your chest open. Lower your body by bending your legs while maintaining a long and straight spine. Lead with your hips until your knees reach 90-degree angles (or, if flexibility allows, lower), being certain to stop the range of motion when you are no longer able to maintain a long spine. If your pelvis begins to curl under or your upper back starts to arch, you have dropped too low. After you have reached your ideal position, hold for a few seconds, then return to standing.
Tip: If you find your form weakening, try taking a slightly wider stance.
Lunge to Overhead Press
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, shoulders, triceps
Begin in a standing position with your feet under your shoulders, holding the medicine ball against your chest. Take a step back with one leg, reaching far enough that you can now lower your body to a point where both legs can reach 90-degree angles. Pushing through your front heel, return to the standing position and press the medicine ball up over your head. Lower back to your chest and repeat, alternating sides, until your set is complete.
Tip: Want a challenge? Curl the ball as you step into the lunge.
Medicine Ball Hip Thrust
Targets: Glutes, lower back, abdominals
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and heels on a medicine ball. Keep your arms flat on the floor at your sides with your palms down. Tilting your pelvis to engage the lower abdomen, use your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold this position for three seconds, then lower yourself in a controlled motion. Repeat until your set is through.
Tip: Be sure to keep your head flat on the floor during this exercise to protect your neck from injury.
Medicine Ball Push-Up
Targets: Abdominals, shoulders, delts
Begin with your body in a high plank position, placing the medicine ball under one hand. Your hands should be positioned beneath the shoulders, your body should be in a straight line, and you should be balancing your weight on your toes. Lower your body into a pushup position until your chest is beside the ball, and then push your body back up to your starting position. Roll the ball over to the opposite hand and repeat. Continue in this manner for your full set.
Tip: Turn the focus to your triceps by placing both hands on the ball and performing a push-up.
Sit-Up With Ball Toss
Targets: Abdominals, shoulders, chest
Start by lying on your back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat, and holding a medicine ball directly in front of your chest. Using your abdominal muscles and not your hip flexors, sit up until your hips form a “V” position while simultaneously pushing the ball at a wall in front of you and releasing it away from the body. Be sure to focus on engaging the abs during the movement for maximum benefit, and keep your feet flat on the floor throughout. Catch the ball and absorb the impact, lowering your body back to your starting position one vertebra at a time. Use your core to control the movement.
Tip: If you can’t move into a full sit-up, perform a standard crunch instead.