4 Medicine Ball Core Exercises
for Stronger Abs

Medicine ball core exercises can be an exciting change of pace from the traditional ab exercises most of us always use for our core training. Medicine balls are making a huge comeback because they are so helpful working multiple small and large abdominal muscle groups at the time.

Having to use different muscle groups in order to maintain balance and control will train your body to use some core muscles that you probably haven't used in quite awhile.

These muscles will adapt to the new activity and learn to work together as lower back supporting muscles to help perform tasks quickly and efficiently. You can also use medicine balls to train for specific sports. 

Medicine Ball Core Exercises

A weighted ball is an excellent fitness tool to increase abdominal and lower back strength while improving your coordination. Free weights are fine for isolating and building muscle, but if you only have 30 minutes to spare, medicine ball core exercises can target and work all of the muscles together at the same time... giving you more bang for your buck.

Big Circle

The Big Circle does a good job of working your shoulders and oblique's. 

Exercise Instructions:

  • Standing with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, hold a medicine above your head with your arms extended.

  • Without bending your elbows whatsoever, rotate your arms one way or the other to draw a large imaginary circle.

Do 8-10 circles each way

medicine ball big circle position #1Kyle Demonstrating the Big Circle Exercise
medicine ball big circle position #2
medicine ball big circle position #3
medicine ball big circle position #4

Medicine Ball Sit-Up

 Exercise Instructions:

  • Lying on your back in a sit-up position, hold a medicine against your chest. Do a traditional sit-up by rising up into a sitting position.

Try and do 3 sets of 10-25 reps

medicine ball sit-up position #1
medicine ball sit-up position #2

Hip Crossover

The hip crossover is one the best medicine ball core exercises for targetting the lower ab muscles. Typically that is the area where belly fat likes to accumulate.

 Exercise Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your hands intertwined behind your head, and exercise ball between your legs (as pictured).

  • Have your legs raised up in the air so that your lower legs and thighs form a 90 degree angle at your knee.

  • Begin the exercise by turning your legs to the right side, making sure to keep your hips flat on the floor. After a brief pause, reverse the movement back to the left side.

Do 8-12 movements in each direction.


medicine ball hip crossover position #1
medicine ball hip corossover position #2


  • The hip crossover targets your oblique, hip and thigh muscles. By contracting your thighs and calves gripping the ball you will intensify the exercise.

Wood Chopper

 Several large muscle groups are worked with the wood chopper, specifically some larger muscles in your back, abs, glutes, and legs

Exercise Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and hold the medicine ball in front of your hips, with your knees slightly bent.

  • Swing the medicine ball up in front of your body, move your butt backwards, lean forward and let the ball swing down between and behind your legs.

  • Push your hips forward to start swinging the ball up, making sure to keep your head up. As you continue to take the ball over your head, try and let your hips do the work so that you aren't lifting the ball with your arms.

Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps.


woodchopper medicine ball exercise position #1
medicine ball woodchopper exercise position #3

Benefits of Medicine Ball Core Exercises

  • Combines cardio with core training. Walking lunges with bicep curls, plyometrics, wall toss with twist, or woodchoppers will really turn up the cardio while also building core muscle strength. You can also increase the difficulty level of classic exercises such as sit-ups, squats, Russian twists, and pushups by adding a medicine ball to these movements.

  • Improved sports performance. Many of the medicine ball core exercises emulate sports movements and will help improve hand-eye-coordination and reaction time. Try including some exercises that simulate golf strokes, tennis serves, or football throws. You can even toss the ball against a wall while adding a torso twist or jump to improve your basketball skills.

  • Improved power and speed. Strength is how much force or energy your muscles can exert. We have already said that medicine ball core exercises can help improve strength and build muscle size. However, these invaluable tools can also help you take it one step further. While strength is the amount of force you can exert; power is measured by how quickly that force can actually be exerted. So, you might have a lot of strength, but your explosiveness or speed could be lacking. Medicine balls are designed to be thrown, so they train your body to react quickly and become more explosive. They are also perfect for plyometric exercises which are one of the best forms of training to help you develop explosive power. 

  • Functional. Many of the medicine ball core exercises simulate movements you would perform in everyday life. Strengthening your core, improving flexibility,  and building a stronger body will make you better prepared for lifting heavy objects, moving furniture, or completing projects such as repairing your roof, washing windows, or unloading a delivery of lumber for that new deck you want to build.

  • Versatility and variety. There are hundreds of exercises to choose from, not to mention the fact that there are movements you can perform with medicine balls that you cannot do with dumbbells or barbells. You can throw them, bounce them, move them quickly through various planes of motion, and safely use them for higher risk exercises such as plyometrics. Some come with handles and can be purchased in various sizes so you can add even more variety to your workout. 

  • Improved reaction time. Whenever you throw or bounce a medicine ball - whether to a partner, against the wall or off the floor - you never know exactly what path it may follow. One toss may be lower, requiring you to bend down to catch it, while another might be higher, making you stretch or lean to reach it. And, once you catch the ball, you will need to maintain control so you can throw or bounce it again as quickly as possible. This can be of great benefit in places such as the boxing ring or the tennis court.

Kyle recommends Nike medicine balls.

How to Choose the Right Medicine Ball

Medicine balls come in a variety of weights and sizes, but not every ball is the best choice for every exercise. You must first ask yourself three questions:

  • What is my fitness level?
  • What are my goals?
  • What exercises will I be performing?

The answers to these questions will give you a good place to start, but you may find that more than one medicine ball is required to meet all your fitness needs. The weight of the ball will vary depending on whether you are trying to build strength, improve power, or increase endurance. Making the right choice is crucial to getting the results you desire.

Handles can give you more control, which could make it easier if you are adding medicine balls to crunches or twists, lifting the ball over your head, or holding the ball in one hand. However, you will probably want to avoid handles if you plan to throw or toss the ball around.

Medicine Ball Core Exercises

For years, athletes  in sports such as basketball, football, tennis, and golf have incorporated medicine ball core exercises into their fitness programs to add explosive power and strength endurance in their core. They learned that having strong core muscles can make all of your basic bodily movements easier as you are able to transfer your strength throughout your body.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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