Medicine Ball Ab Workout

Take on six exercises designed to build abdominal and oblique strength.

Ready to mix up your core work routine? Reach for a medicine ball and try this ab circuit, designed to elevate your ab workout to the next level.

You’ll complete 10 reps of each exercise. After completing the six exercises, rest for one minute and repeat for a total of three sets.

When choosing a medicine ball for your workout, personal trainer Jaime Filer recommends these weights as general guidelines:

Women
Beginner: 10 pounds
Advanced: 20 pounds

Men
Beginner: 20 pounds
Advanced: 30 pounds

Try practicing a few reps with the lightest weight recommended. Then, work your way up or down, depending on your ability.

These exercises are also challenging without the medicine ball. You can perform any of them without the weight and “rep out until fatigue,” Filer says. It’s considered a drop set, but you’ll still work your abdominals and build strength.

The exercises are listed in progressively challenging order so that you can turn up the intensity when you’re ready.

PROPER FORM

Avoid hunching your shoulders, straining your neck or rounding your back. Maintain a tight, strong core, and remember to breathe. When holding the medicine ball, keep a light grip — try not to clench your fingers.

THE WORKOUT

MEDICINE BALL SIT-UP

  • Start on your back. Hold the medicine ball lightly across your chest.
  • Bend your knees and rest your heels on the mat.
  • As you sit up, press the medicine ball away from you with straight arms. The farther you press the ball from your body, the more challenging the exercise.
  • With control, slowly lower back down.
  • Repeat.

Avoid curving your back, especially on this exercise. “A lot of people tend to round [their back] because it’s comfortable. We’re so used to sitting in that position every day, whether you’re hunched over typing on your phone or on a keyboard. When you curl up, it reinforces that negative posture,” Filer says. Instead, brace your abs and move with a flat back.

RUSSIAN TWIST

  • Start in a seated position. Extend your legs in front of you.
  • Hold the medicine ball with your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Twist to the right and then to the left, working your oblique muscles. Keep these movements small and contained, holding the medicine ball close to your body.

HEEL TAPS

  • Start in a seated position.
  • Roll the medicine ball to the far edge of the mat, then extend your legs in front of you.
  • Place your hands behind you for support.
  • Slightly lean back until you feel your core muscles engage.
  • Keeping your legs straight, lift your feet over the ball, hovering your heels off of the ground.
  • Lift your feet to the opposite side of the ball, then continue to lift your heels from side to side.

DEAD BUG

This one requires a lot of focus.

  • From your back, bend your knees and place the medicine ball between your shins.
  • Lift your shoulders and place one hand on the medicine ball.
  • Pull your right knee toward your belly as you extend your left leg firmly, squeezing the medicine ball in place all the while.
  • Then, pull your left knee in as you extend your right leg.
  • Use your opposite hand to guide the medicine ball forward and back in slow, controlled movements.

V-UPS

  • Start on your back. Extend your legs in front of you.
  • Hold the medicine ball and extend your arms overhead.
  • Pull your belly button down toward the floor.
  • Lift up your arms and legs at the same time and tap the medicine ball to your shins.
  • With control, lower down.
V-Ups Modification

Drop the medicine ball to the side and lift up, tapping your shins with your hands.

PLANK ON MEDICINE BALL

  • Start in a high plank — palms flat, with shoulders over your wrists.
  • Pull your belly up and in, squeeze your legs firmly, maintaining a long spine and strong core. Keep your back flat — avoid sagging or rounding through your middle.
  • Lightly place one hand on the medicine ball. Roll it from hand to hand continuously.

You’re not only strengthening your core, but you’re also strengthening your ability to balance.

Plank Modification
  • Start with the medicine ball under your right hand, then roll it in the direction of your left hand.
  • Before placing your left hand on the medicine ball, set your right hand on the mat.
  • Repeat.

“You’ll still get the oblique benefit without having to worry about balance,” Filer says.

If you need more support, drop your knees to the mat and practice either of these upper-body variations.

You can incorporate this entire ab circuit into your strength training routine or add one or two at a time to your core workout for a boost of intensity.