14 Medicine Ball Exercises to Strengthen Your Arms, Abs, and Glutes

A medicine ball is a weighted exercise ball used for full-body strength and endurance training among athletes. It is also a common tool used in physical therapy settings to promote stability and aid in recovery. As a popular piece of fitness equipment that sculpts and tones the arms, shoulders, back, core, and more, a medicine ball can also be easily used at home to enhance your workout.

Build strength and stamina with these 14 weighted ball exercises for beginners to sculpt and tone your arms and shoulders while working your core and lower body.


Medicine Ball Exchange

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball exchange is a great warmup exercise for your arms and shoulders and a surefire way to get your heart rate ramped up. You'll also feel the burn in your abs as you work to maintain good posture throughout this strengthening move.

You can perform the sequence from a seated or standing position. For beginners, the key to maintain good form is to start with a lighter medicine ball (4–6 pounds) and maintain slow and controlled movements as you go. If you've worked with weighted balls before, you can intensify the medicine ball exchange with a heavier ball (8 pounds) and incorporate a toss at the top.

  1. From standing or seated, hold your spine upright and engage your core.
  2. Bring the medicine ball to your right hand with your arm down at your side.
  3. Draw the right arm overhead and take the ball with the other hand.
  4. Circle the left hand down to your side with the ball.
  5. Continue circling the ball overhead, alternating the arms, and maintaining a steady pace as you go, relying on strength versus momentum.
  6. Optional: Add a toss at the top of the movement for more intensity.
  7. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 15–20 reps.

Medicine Ball Curl and Press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball curl and press targets the biceps, shoulders, and lats. The exercise will also work your abs as you maintain stability with an upright spine. You can do this from a seated position, as shown, or from a standing position.

Use your upper body and core rather than throwing your body weight into the movement. By distributing your weight evenly under your seat and/or both feet, you'll stay balanced on both sides of the body.

  1. From standing or seated, engage the abdominal wall and hold your spine in an upright and neutral position.
  2. Place the medicine ball in the right hand down by your side.
  3. Balance the ball in your hand as you curl the arm up into a biceps curl.
  4. At the top of the movement, push the arm out and up, engaging the shoulder girdle.
  5. Bring the ball back down and then lower the arm to its starting position.
  6. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 10–12 reps, switching sides for each set.

Knee Lifts with a Medicine Ball

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball can be used as a tool to increase the heart rate with minimal impact. Knee lifts with a medicine ball incorporate both upper- and lower-body strength and stability. As you build endurance and get your heart pumping, you will no doubt break a sweat with this exercise.

  1. Depending on your strength and level of fitness, hold a weighted ball (2–8 pounds) overhead with both hands.
  2. Lift the right knee up to waist level while bringing the arms down, touching the weight to the knee.
  3. Take the weight back up and switch sides, lifting the left knee up while touching the medicine ball back to the knee.
  4. Keep the torso upright throughout the exercise and avoid rounding or arching your spine.
  5. The quicker you go, the more intense this movement will be. But faster is not necessarily better—be sure to move at a pace that allows you to maintain control of the weighted ball as well as good form.
  6. Repeat for 30–60 seconds.

Medicine Ball Triceps Extension

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball triceps extension is a weighted ball exercise similar to traditional arm extensions with dumbbells. You can increase the intensity by tossing the ball over to your workout partner after extending your arms. This explosive movement builds arm and shoulder strength while focusing on hand-eye coordination. Your partner can sit across from you and the two of you can perform the exercise together.

  1. From standing or seated, engage your abs and hold your spine upright.
  2. With a medicine ball in both hands, extend your arms overhead so they frame your ears.
  3. Allow your shoulders to naturally lift to follow the extension of your arms, neither shrugging them up by your ears nor jamming them down your back.
  4. Bend your elbows, lowering the ball behind your head until your elbows form 90-degree angles.
  5. Squeeze the triceps to straighten your arms, taking the ball back up again.
  6. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 10–16 reps.

Medicine Ball Squat and Sweep

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The medicine ball squat and sweep is a great full-body exercise that strengthens both the upper and lower body in one dynamic move. Use this as part of your warmup for other lower body exercises or to get your heart rate up during your cardio workouts.

  1. Stand with feet hips-width apart and hold a heavier weighted ball (8 pounds or more).
  2. Squat as low as you can, sending the hips back and keeping the back neutral, and touch the ball to the floor, if you can.
  3. Press through the heels and continue to keep the spine neutral as you stand back up, sweeping the weight up and overhead.
  4. Lower and repeat, moving quickly, but still maintaining control of the weight. Add a toss at the end for more intensity.
  5. Repeat for 30–60 seconds.

Medicine Ball Squat and Swing

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball squat and swing is similar to the squat and sweep, except that you take a big step out to the side. It's also a great move that sculpts the entire body, engaging the glutes, hips, thighs, arms, and core as you move from side to side. Use a lighter medicine ball if you're a beginner or are still warming up, or move to a heavier one if you're ready for more intensity.

  1. Hold a medicine ball (4–10 pounds) in both hands with your feet together.
  2. Step out to the side into a squat, swinging the medicine ball between the knees.
  3. Sit the hips back with the knees behind the toes and abs engaged.
  4. Step the foot back in as you swing the medicine ball overhead.
  5. Step out to the other side and swing the medicine ball down between your knees.
  6. Step back together, swinging the weighted ball back up, and repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–16 reps.

Medicine Ball Squat, Dribble, and Toss

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball squat, dribble, and toss is another full-body exercise that can accompany your cardio workout, since the dynamic movements will get your blood pumping and increase your heart rate. The squat offers a lower-body and core workout, while the weighted medicine ball strengthens the arms, shoulders, and back.

The toss at the end takes some coordination, particularly as you practice good posture and form. To avoid injury, it's best to stand with your feet apart about the width of your outer hips (neither too wide or too narrow), and maintain a tall and neutral spine.

  1. Stand and hold a medicine ball in front of you.
  2. Toss the ball up in the air, just above your head.
  3. As you catch it, squat down as low as you can while maintaining good form, sitting the hips back and keeping the knees behind the toes.
  4. While squatting, throw the ball to the floor and let it bounce back up into your hands.
  5. Stand back up while tossing the ball in the air, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10–16 reps.

Medicine Ball Circle Squat

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball circle squat strengthens the arms and shoulders while working the lower body and core. You'll also get your heart rate going, making this move a great addition to any cardio or strength-training routine. Because this exercise is low impact, you'll protect your joints while improving your fitness.

  1. Stand tall with your feet hips-width distance apart and hold a weighted ball in both hands on the right side, next to your hip.
  2. Circle the medicine ball overhead and slightly in front of you as you step sideways with the left foot.
  3. Continue to circle the ball around to the left and down, and lower yourself into a squat. The ball should be at the bottom of the circle, between your legs, at the bottom of the squat.
  4. Circle the ball back to the right as you return to standing and step the left foot back in.
  5. Repeat for 10–16 reps. Switch sides, and do the same motion in reverse for 10—16 reps.
  6. Repeat for 1–3 sets.

Medicine Ball Diagonal Woodchop

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball diagonal woodchop is a dynamic exercise that strengthens the upper and lower body while targeting the abs and obliques. The diagonal move is a functional movement pattern, as the arms reach to naturally rotate the torso much as it would in real life when picking something up off the floor. The triceps, lats, and shoulders will strengthen as the arms reach down and up.

  1. Begin with the feet together and hold a medicine ball overhead at a diagonal toward the right side.
  2. Step out to the left onto a lunge, swinging the ball across the body toward the left side.
  3. Make sure the knee is behind the toe and rotate through the torso, taking the ball toward the back the room as far as you can.
  4. Step the left foot back to start while swinging the ball up and at a diagonal.
  5. Repeat for 10–16 reps before switching sides, completing 1–3 sets.

Modified Medicine Ball Woodchop

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Regular medicine ball woodchops are great for working the abs and obliques, but this modified version, which maintains lower body stability, actually targets the core with slightly more intensity. With this move, you want to keep the hips and knees parallel throughout the exercise since there is less rotation in the torso. Your arms will still get a workout as you reach the weighted ball overhead.

  1. Take a wider stance with the feet, and hold a medicine ball in both hands. 
  2. Squat, sending the hips behind you as you maintain a neutral spine, and take the ball to the outside of the left hip.
  3. Keep the hips and knees facing the front of the room.
  4. Push into the heels to stand up and swing the ball up and overhead at a diagonal, so the the ball is over the right shoulder.
  5. Repeat for 10–16 reps before switching sides, completing 1–3 sets.

Medicine Ball Lunge with Toe Touches

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball lunge with toe touches is a great full-body exercise that strengthens your lower legs and glutes while simultaneously toning the arms. The power behind this movement will also get your blood pumping and increase your heart rate.

Additionally, you'll improve the strength and flexibility of your hamstrings, which can aid in injury prevention down the road. This move also tests your balance, a practice that has been shown to reduce the risk of falls among older adults.

  1. Stand tall holding a medicine ball overhead, and step back with the right leg into a straight leg lunge.
  2. Make sure you step back far enough that the front knee is behind the toe.
  3. Still holding the medicine ball overhead, step the right leg forward and swing it up, bringing the medicine ball down toward the toe.
  4. Touch the toe if you can (this will depend on your flexibility) and take the right leg back into the lunge.
  5. Continue the lunges and toe touches on one leg before switching sides.
  6. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 10–16 reps on each side.

Medicine Ball Knee Pulls

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Medicine ball knee pulls are a total-body workout that incorporate the use of a sliding disc (pictured here). The standing leg gets most of the work as you slide the other leg in and out. If you keep the standing leg in a squat position for the entire set, you'll really feel the effort in the glute and thigh muscles on that side. You'll also sculpt and tone the arms and shoulders as you lift and lower the ball.

Adding a weighted ball will get your heart rate up and strengthen your upper body as well. If you don't have a sliding disc, you can use a paper plate, a sock, or simply touch the foot in and out as a modification.

  1. Hold a light medicine ball and place a sliding disc, sock, paper plate, or nothing at all under the left foot.
  2. Bend the right knee into a squat as you slide (or tap) the left foot straight back behind you.
  3. Keep all the weight in the heel of the right leg.
  4. Simultaneously push the medicine ball out in front of you.
  5. Bring the weighted ball back in as you slide the left foot back to start, keeping the right knee bent the entire time.
  6. Continue to slide the foot back as you take the medicine ball out for 8–16 reps before switching sides.
  7. Try to keep the right knee bent in a squat throughout the exercise for maximum intensity. Imagine there's a ceiling just overhead that you'll hit if you come up too high.

Medicine Ball Pullover

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This medicine ball pullover is similar to a dumbbell pullover in that it targets the arms, lats, and shoulders, but you'll also feel the work in your core as you maintain stability. In this move, you have a firmer grip on the ball, but your hands are rotated, which puts much of the emphasis on the bottom arm.

The medicine ball pullover can be very challenging work for the shoulders, particularly for those experiencing a lack of mobility or tightness in this region. To avoid injury, start with a very light ball to get a sense of the exercise and how much weight you can safely accommodate.

  1. Lie down on a step or bench and hold a medicine ball between both hands above your shoulders.
  2. Rotate the ball until one hand is on top and one hand is on the bottom.
  3. Gently and slowly lower the ball behind your head with your arms extended while engaging your core to avoid overarching your lower back.
  4. Only lower as far as your arm strength and shoulder flexibility allows.
  5. Lift the ball back up and rotate it, so that the other hand is on top, and lower the ball again.
  6. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–15 reps.

Medicine Ball Knee Roll

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The medicine ball knee roll gives the arms a rest and is a great conditioning exercise to strengthen and stabilize the abdominal wall. An exercise ball offers additional support and allows you to rock easily from side to side while also controlling the movement.

  1. Lie on the floor with the backs of your calves resting on an exercise ball with your knees bent.
  2. Squeeze a medicine ball between the knees, and take your arms out to the sides for more stability.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine and slowly roll the ball to the right as far as you comfortably can, feeling your abs engage.
  4. Roll back to the center, then roll to the left.
  5. Repeat for 1–3 sets of 8–15 reps (1 rep is to the right and left).
5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Raeder C, Fernandez-Fernandez J, Ferrauti A. Effects of six weeks of medicine ball training on throwing velocity, throwing precision, and isokinetic strength of shoulder rotators in female handball playersJ Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):1904-1914. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000847

  2. Lorenzetti S, Ostermann M, Zeidler F, et al. How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loadingBMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2018;10:14. doi:10.1186/s13102-018-0103-7

  3. Cotter JA, Chaudhari AM, Jamison ST, Devor ST. Knee joint kinetics in relation to commonly prescribed squat loads and depthsJ Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(7):1765-1774. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182773319

  4. Bourne MN, Timmins RG, Opar DA, et al. An evidence-based framework for strengthening exercises to prevent hamstring injurySports Med. 2018;48(2):251-267. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0796-x

  5. Thomas E, Battaglia G, Patti A, et al. Physical activity programs for balance and fall prevention in elderly: A systematic reviewMedicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(27):e16218. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000016218

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."