It’s small but packs a big punch. A medicine ball is a weighted ball used to whip your body into shape, without taking up much space. It’s similar to standard weights, but with the medicine ball you only need one in order to get in a full workout. If you’re a fitness newbie, start with a 4-pounder (sold at most sports stores). Advanced fitness junkies may choose to use a 20-pound ball.
Dr. Rick Kattouf, author of “Forever Fit,” is a triathlon and conditioning coach based in South Carolina. Below, he shares his favorite medicine ball exercises. Do each exercise 10 times. Gradually work up to doing each one 25 times.
Squat to shoulder press: Beginning in a standing position, hold the medicine ball at chest level. Squat, trying to drop your buttocks as low as possible, keeping your heels on the ground. Then, stand up and raise the medicine ball directly over your heat. Bring the medicine ball back to your chest and repeat.
Muscles worked: Quadriceps, glutes, triceps and shoulders.
Straight-leg dead lift: In a standing position, lift the medicine ball above your head, keeping your arms extended. Bend forward from your waist as if you are trying to touch your toes. As you bend forward, keep your arms extended while holding the medicine ball and bringing the ball toward your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent the entire time. When the ball hits your feet or the floor, return to your original standing position, maintaining the full extension of your arms overhead.
Muscles worked: Hamstrings and shoulders.
Alternate-arm pushup: Begin in a pushup position, keeping your knees on the ground if necessary. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, with your left palm on the ground and your right palm on the medicine ball. Your hands are now in a staggered position, and you have to steady your body. Then, perform a pushup. When you come back up and fully extend your elbows, you will then bring your left hand onto the medicine ball and move your right hand onto the ground, arms extended at this time. Perform another pushup, alternate arms and repeat.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, shoulders, triceps and abdominals.