medicine ball exercises

Medicine Ball and Kettle Ball in One

There are a huge number of different workouts found in fitness magazines, videos and online that are designed to target the abs and core muscles. Most of these involve performing repetitions of sit-ups and crunches of numerous variations. Depending on the specific workout and also your eating habits you can see results when combining these exercises. There are however other ways to build and strengthen your core than focusing primarily on crunches. Medicine ball exercises tend to focus on working your core as well as other major muscle groups at the same time. They involve movements that give you benefits far beyond building the abdominal muscles. Professional athletes have been working medicine ball exercises into their routines for many years because the core stability, balance and coordination they build are extremely valuable when competing in sports at any level. A side benefit to this is very often a fantastic set of abs.

Here are two great exercises (and a couple of variations) using a medicine ball which will not only tone your body but also play a huge part in building that six pack you have always wanted:


1 – Wood Chops
Wood chops are one of the most popular exercises found in medicine ball workouts. When you first see the movement you may not think of it as a particularly good way to build your abs, but after a few sets you will soon start to feel your core being worked very hard. Here is how to perform a wood chop:

Start with the ball held high above your head with your arms and legs very slightly bent. Your feet should be around shoulder width.

Now imagine you are going to chop a piece of wood directly in front of you with an axe, pulling it down from above your head with full force. Use your core muscles as the power source for the movement and keep them tight at all time.
Allow your arms to swing down with the ball going back between your legs as far as possible.

Now reverse the movement, bringing the arms back above your head to the first position.

You have now completed a single repetition.

Variations:
You can also perform wood chops to the left and right. Here you would simpley swing the ball to one side so that it travels outside of your knee before bringing it back up above your head. We recommend using both the forward and side chops in your workout.


2 – Crunches with a Ball

Crunches performed while holding a medicine ball for extra resistance can be more effective than the regular exercise and give your core muscles a much stronger workout. Here is what you need to do:

Lie in the same way you would for a regular crunch with your back flat on the floor and shoulders raised very slightly so they are not touching the ground. Your knees should be bent so that your feet are flat on the floor.

Hold the medicine ball against your chest with both hands.

Now perform a regular crunch and feel the extra strain on your abs with the weight of the ball.

Variations:
Adding a twist to the end of your crunch is a great way to add difficulty and also work your core muscles in a slightly different way. Simply twist your torso to either side as you sit up out of the crunch, be sure to switch between left and right twists equally.

Those are some effective ways to build your core strength using a medicine ball from our guest poster and online fitness content creator Ryan Turner. There are of course many others you can work into your routine for much more added benefit. Head over to Ryan’s website http://chilledfitness.com for further details where he has written about his 19 favorite medicine ball exercises to train every major muscle group in your body.