If you’ve seen a medicine ball before, you may have looked at it, then quickly walked away thinking that it must be a piece of equipment for athletes only! Do not fear! These weighted balls are a GREAT addition to your home gym and your workout routine. They come in many varieties–handles, no handles, small, large and a variety of pounds. They don’t take up a lot of space and will last you a long time. Not only are they great for abdominal exercises, but upper and lower body as well.

The exercises performed below are done with an 8 pound ball. If you do not have a medicine ball, you should be able to grab one weight and complete the exercises. (although some of the moves may not be as comfortable)

(Fun Fact: I was 14 weeks pregnant with my daughter in these pictures and my photographer was Courtney from WomenLivingWell!)

Alternating Side Lunge w/Chest Press: Grab the medicine ball and stand with feet a little further than hip width apart. Lunge to the right as you press the ball in front of you with both hands. Bring the ball back to your chest as you come center with your body. Lunge to the left and press the ball out again. Bring back to the chest, with body coming center. Keep the chest lifted and high! REPS: 2 sets of 8-10 reps (1 rep is going to the right and then the left)

Hinged-Over Lift: Take the medicine ball in both hands. Hinge over from the waist and keep your knees soft. It’s almost like you are in a small squat. (Do NOT break the torso). Take the ball and lift it up to where your biceps meet your ears. (see picture above) Then bring back to starting position. Keep the gaze to the floor the whole time and be sure to stay squatted and hinged. (Sounds major, eh?) ADVANCED: As you lift your arms up and down, press the ball with your hands. REPS: 2 sets of 12 reps

Platypus Walk: Grab the medicine ball and lift it with both arms above the head. Take your legs and turn both toes out, away from the body, as opposed to having them face forward. Squat down slightly. Walk up on a 4 count (“right foot, then left foot, right foot, then left”) Then, walk back on a 4 count. Keep the hands lifted and the rear end in a slight squat. It will feel a little odd, but have fun with it! REPS: 2 sets of 12 reps

Tricep Extension: Grab the medicine ball with both hands and lift it behind  your head. Lift the ball above your head, then return it to starting position, as pictured above. (Be sure to keep your elbows “in” as opposed to flaring out to the sides.) When you lift the ball up, think PRESSING your wrists up thru the ceiling. (this will help engage the tricep muscle) Be sure to keep the abs and lower back supported by drawing in the abs towards the spine.  REPS: 2 sets of 12 reps.

Shoulder Bridge: Take the medicine ball and go to the floor. Lay on your back and put the ball underneath your feet. Drop and lift your rear end while you keep your feet on the ball 8 times, then hold the rear end in the air for an 8 count. Relax and repeat that cycle 2-3 times. ADVANCED: Lift the right leg up, then take it back down to the ball, then lift the leg leg up and bring it down. Repeat. Do 8 times, 2-3 sets.

Oblique Twist: Grab your medicine ball and sit down. Plant your feet firmly in the floor about hip width apart. Hold the ball at your chest and begin twisting right and left with control. Keep the chest lifted (don’t sink) and shoulders away from the ears. The elbows should be close to your body as if you are knocking someone out at your hips. Exhale as you twist right and left.  ADVANCED: Lean back slightly as you twist. Try lifting your feet off the floor a few inches while maintaining balance! REPS: 12-15 reps 2 sets

Lower Ab Drop: Grab your medicine ball and lay down. Put the ball between your knees and extend your legs into “chair pose” (see picture) Keep your head to the floor and put your hands to the side on the floor. Inhale, then exhale and with control, drop your legs to where your toes almost touch the floor and return them to starting position. Do NOT collapse the legs. Keep them extended. Repeat.  ADVANCED: Lift your head and put both hands behind your head as you do the move. REPS: 10-12 reps 2 sets