Posted on April 24 2019
Doing ab exercises with just your body weight can be challenging in itself. But when you bring extra pounds into the equation, it's a whole new kind of burn. As celebrity trainer Gunnar P. told the secret to great abdominals is "working consistently, working in different planes of motion, and adding weights to your abdominal work."
Ahead, check out exercises to target your abs with a medicine ball specifically — because medicine balls are easy to hold and even easier to store. Anna R. also says they're great for working your hand-eye coordination.
To get started, choose the weight that's best for you and your fitness level — here's how to do that — though we'd recommend anywhere from 6-15 pounds. Do note that this is not a workout; you can add some of these into your next core or full-body routine to really shred that six pack. Plus, watch an explainer video with more moves. If you're looking for a true test of strength, check out this medicine ball circuit from Jillian M.
Overhead Circles With Medicine Ball
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your spine in neutral, lift a medicine ball overhead.
- Begin to circle the ball to the right, in the largest circles you can make, while maintaining a still and stable torso.
- Circle eight times to the right; then repeat, circling eight times to the left. Do three sets.
Twisting Wood Chop With Medicine Ball
- Start with the feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Twist to the left, raising the ball over to your left shoulder.
- On an exhale pull your abs toward your spine and "chop" the ball down diagonally across your body toward the outside of your right knee. Imagine you're chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your ax — the move is a bit percussive.
- Focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the ball back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Remember, you are moving with force but also control. Don't give in to the momentum of swinging the ball around. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Double Crunch Pulse With Medicine Ball
- Begin lying on your back with your legs in the air, toes toward the ceiling, holding the medicine ball over your chest with straight arms. Engage your abs to press your lower back into the mat while lifting your head, neck, and upper back off the mat.
- Exhale and round your lower back so the bottom of the pelvis raises as you lift your upper body an inch higher off the mat. Aim the medicine ball toward your ankles as you perform this double crunch.
- Inhale, and lower pelvis and upper back an inch toward the floor. Continue this slow pulsing motion for a total of 20-25 reps. Do three sets.
Medicine Ball Alphabet
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, making sure your knees are not locked. Then try one of these two variations.
- For stability: Start with the ball at chest level, and slowly write the cursive alphabet in front of you. While your arms move around at all sorts of angles, you need to use your abs to keep your torso still. Think of keeping the area between your ribs and pelvis solid. For a more advanced version, try this move while standing on a BOSU.
- For mobility: Start with the ball at chest level, but increase the range of motion of your arms, making your alphabet larger, using your torso and rib cage to write the letters as well. Keep your abs engaged the entire time. For more of a challenge, try this version in a squat or a lunge.
Medicine Ball Slam
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a medicine ball on the floor in front of you.
- Squat down and pick up the medicine ball, keeping your head up, and trying not to round the spine.
- Stand up, lifting the medicine ball above your head, fully extending the arms straight above you.
- Forcefully slam the ball down on the floor as hard as you can. If the ball is light enough, catch the ball as it bounces slightly off the floor.
- This counts as one rep.
- Complete 15 reps.
Rotational Medicine Ball Slam and Toss
Note: This is a total-body move, but tossing the ball across you towards the wall will especially target your core.
- Start standing in front of a wall holding a soft-shell medicine ball in front of your body with your arms fully extended.
- Engage your core, and raise the ball overhead. On an exhale, slam the ball down in front of you as hard as you can. Catch the ball after it bounces back up.
- Once you've caught the ball, pivot on your left foot and step your right leg back simultaneously as you toss the ball as hard as you can at the wall. Catch the ball, and pivot back to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep. Perform 10 reps tossing the ball to the right, take 30 seconds of rest, then repeat on the left side. That's one set. Take no more than 60 seconds of rest in between each set, completing a total of three sets.
- If this move is too advanced, perform a set of standard medicine ball slams followed by a set of medicine ball rotational throws.
Rotational Ball Slam With Lunge
This variation of a regular ball slam requires you to stabilize your core.
- Start in a lunge with your right leg forward. Be sure to keep your knee over your ankle, maintaining a 90-degree angle at the knee.
- With the ball on the left side of your body, raise it up overhead, rotate your arms to the right, and slam the ball down on the outside of your right foot.
- This counts as one rep. Keep it fast and light, and complete three sets of 12 slams on each side.
Reverse Lunge With Twist
This will work your abs and your legs, thanks to the lunges (also, your shoulders will feel the burn).
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold a medicine ball with both hands with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Keep your core stable, and take a large step back with your right foot, planting your foot and then lowering your body until both legs are bent in right angles.
- As you sink into the lunge, twist your torso to the left.
- Bring your torso back to center, and exhale as you straighten your legs. Bring your feet back together, and then step back on your left leg, twisting to the right.
- This completes one rep. Do 10 reps for a set, and do at least two sets.