10 Medicine-Ball Moves to Whittle Your Waistline
When it comes to getting those six-pack abs, just say no to crunches! They’re boring and offer little benefit in the gut-busting department. Instead of packing on winter pounds and hiding that muffin top underneath layers of sweaters -- lean out, tone up and whittle that waistline without the crunches. Medicine balls are a fun, powerful way to incorporate high-intensity core training into your workout routine. As a bonus, their size, shape and weight aid in targeting other parts of the body to give you a full-body burn. So grab a weighted medicine ball and get ready to give your midsection a solid workout.
1. Stir The Pot
This movement is a favorite of Dr. Stuart McGill, director of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, because it’s one of the best exercises for abdominal endurance. HOW TO DO IT: Place your forearms on top of a large medicine ball while holding your body in a plank position. Your core should be tight and your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. Keep your core engaged as you roll the ball out in front of you and move it in a circular motion. Keep your lower back and hips in alignment (don’t raise your hips or sag your lower back). Circle clockwise for a few repetitions, then circle counterclockwise for a few repetitions.
2. Around The Worlds
No need to travel far for killer abs. In fact, you’ll stand completely still for this exercise while your torso does all the work. HOW TO DO IT: Stand in place with a medicine ball in your hands and feet shoulder-width apart. Bending at the waist, circle around to the right and reach for your right foot. Don’t stop as you continue to circle around to your left foot and then back around to standing. Keep your back flat and your abs engaged to feel this full-body burner.
3. Standing Wood Chop
One of the great things about this move is that there are so many variations -- using weights, in a lunge, with a cable machine. But for this version, you’ll start standing and add variations as you get stronger and more advanced. HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a medicine ball in your hands. Raise the medicine ball above the right side of your body. Then bend at the waist with your knees slightly bent and “chop” the medicine ball down and across to your left side. Raise the medicine ball back up to the start and repeat. Then switch to the other side.
4. Single-Leg Chop
This is one of those variations mentioned on the previous slide. It takes the traditional standing wood chop and adds even more core work by challenging your balance. HOW TO DO IT: Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent. Raise the medicine ball above the right side of your head. Bending at the hip and the knee, “chop” the medicine ball down to your left foot. Then, keeping your lower back flat, raise back up to the standing position.
5. Seated Toss
For this one, you’ll need a wall to throw the ball against. But the added benefit here is that you can let out your aggression by slamming the medicine ball into the wall with as much force as you want (as long as you’re careful about how hard it bounces back into your face). HOW TO DO IT: Take a seat facing a sturdy wall and place a medicine ball in your hands. Lift your feet off the ground into a relaxed V-up position, but with your shins parallel to the floor. While keeping your back and feet off the ground, throw the ball against the wall. The ball should rebound directly into your hands.
6. Side-Facing Toss
It’s the same principle as the front-facing toss, but you’ll be targeting more of your obliques with this version. HOW TO DO IT: Stand with the side of your body facing a sturdy wall and hold a medicine ball in your hands. Place the ball behind you by the hip that’s further away from the wall and pivot your back foot toward the wall as you throw the ball against the wall. You should feel a full extension at your back hip, and you should squeeze your glutes for maximum power. The ball can rebound back into your hands or you can bounce it against the ground.
7. Seated Side Toss
This move not only engages your core, but also challenges your balance and your hand-eye coordination, so remember to keep your eyes on the ball the entire time. HOW TO DO IT: Take a seat with your back facing a sturdy wall and hold a medicine ball in your hands. Lift your feet off the ground into a relaxed V-up position with your shins parallel to the floor. While keeping your back and feet off the ground, throw the ball against the wall over one side of your body. The ball should bounce on the ground before returning to your hands.
8. Overhead Toss
For this move, think of yourself as dribbling a basketball, but instead of moving up and down with gravity, you’ll be dribbling horizontally against a wall. HOW TO DO IT: Stand a few inches from a sturdy wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise the medicine ball above your head and throw it against the wall. Rebound quickly so that it’s like you are bouncing a basketball above your head. Remember to keep your core tight and do not move side to side.
9. Underhand Throw
Practice this one often enough and you’ll be able to generate power more explosively (in addition to sculpting abs of steel, of course). HOW TO DO IT: Hold a medicine ball with both hands. Bend down into a squat position and lower the medicine ball to the ground. Explode up as though you were jumping and toss the medicine ball into the air, focusing on opening up your hips and squeezing the glutes as you hit the top. You can do this against a wall or in an open field.
10. Alphabet Spell Out
Time to practice your ABCs! Be forewarned, though, it’s no elementary exercise if you do it correctly. HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a medicine ball in your hands. Raise the medicine ball out in front of your body and trace the letters of the alphabet. Keep your body in a strong, pillar position. If your body waivers or breaks form, lower the medicine ball before picking up where you left off. Remember: Proper form is always the most important aspect of any exercise.
What Do YOU Think?
Now that you know your ABCs (the moves for your Absolutely Beautiful Core), what are other medicine-ball moves you love? Which are your favorite functional movements for your abs?
Collette Stohler is the author of Passport to Fitness. She is also the creative director and co-founder of the travel blog, Roamaroo. She was an All-American Track and Field athlete & Olympic trials qualifier in Olympic Weightlifting. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and received a master's degree from the University of Miami.