The sandbag-meets-basketball is perfect for core training since it allows you to easily move and balance the weight in ways dumbbells may not. Best of all, medicine balls come in different weights and sizes (we're using a six-pound ball from SKLZ in our shoot), so even if you're new to working out, there's one to suit you.
These 10 strength-building moves not only work the superficial six-pack muscles but also engage all layers of your core from the front to the back of your body. Try incorporating three or four moves into your next workout, or do one round of all the moves for the prescribed number of reps for an extra core-focused routine.
1. Med Ball Crunch
Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding ball with arms extended overhead. Curl head and shoulders off floor, squeezing abs in as you raise the ball overhead and in front of you as you sit up. Allow the ball to gently fall overhead, as you lower down to starting position. Do 8 to 16 reps.
2. Russian Twist With Med Ball
Sit with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding medicine ball to your chest. Lean back slightly at a 45-degree angle to the floor, engaging core. Keep feet flexed with heel lightly touching the floor. Rotate to the right, keeping the ball at your chest, and twist from the low back. Return to starting position, then rotate to the left. Do 8 to 16 reps per side.
3. Med Ball Plank
Place both hands on the medicine ball with arms fully extended and legs straight behind you. You'll be in a high plank position but with the added challenge of balancing your hands on a ball. Keep abs tight, hips level, and shoulders down and back. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
4. Med Ball Woodchopper
Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding medicine ball with both hands. Bring ball up and to the left on a diagonal so arms are fully extended. In one fluid movement, bring ball down and across your body to the right, allowing torso to naturally rotate. Bend knees and pivot feet slightly as you lower. Finish with ball about even with right knee, hips back and knees bent. Return to starting position by bringing the ball up and across your body on the same diagonal. Do 8 to 12 reps on this side, then switch sides.
5. Med Ball Mountain Climbers
Start in high plank position with both hands on the ball (as in Med Ball Plank above). From here, draw right knee, then left knee, into chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as possible while maintaining a tight core and level hips. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Reverse Med Ball Plank
Start in a high plank position with med ball near feet. Place one foot then the other on top of ball so feet are balanced on the ball. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Make it harder: From the high plank position with feet on the ball, bring right knee into chest, carefully place it back on the ball, then bring left knee in. Continue to alternate as quickly as possible, maintaining balance throughout.
7. Med Ball Boat Balance
Sit with feet on the floor, knees bent, and med ball close at hand. Bring feet off the floor and legs into a table-top position so shins are parallel to the floor. Balance ball on lower shins. Lean back slightly (at a 45-degree angle) and raise extended arms to your side. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
8. Med Ball Twist
Start seated with feet on ground, knees bent, holding med ball to your chest. Raise feet off ground into a low tabletop position. Twist torso to the right as you move knees to the left. Rotate back to center, then over to the left, with knees dropping slightly to the right. (Do not allow knees to touch ground.) Keep hips stable and core tight throughout. Alternate for 8 to 12 reps total.
Make it harder: Lie faceup and straighten legs up toward ceiling. Curl up and rotate slightly to the right, while you allow straight legs to fall toward the left side. Without allowing left feet to touch the ground, bring feet back up, then allow them to drop toward the right, while you crunch up and toward the left.
9. Superman With Med Ball Pass
Lie facedown, arms extended in a T, with right hand on top of the med ball. Lift upper back and feet off the ground a few inches and contract abs into a superman position. (Be careful not to put excess pressure on low back.) From here, pass ball to left hand by rolling it in front of you. While still holding the superman position, roll ball back to right hand. Pass ball for 8 to 16 reps per side or continue to pass the ball for 30 seconds.
10. Med Ball Toe Touch
Lie faceup holding ball overhead. Raise legs toward ceiling (so your body forms an L shape). Extend arms and crunch up, bringing ball toward feet and raising upper back a few inches off the ground. Make sure to contract abs and keep neck and shoulders relaxed. Roll back down, allowing the ball to gently come overhead. Return to starting position. Do 8 to 12 reps.