Deck the Halls with Med Balls

By Branton Box, NASM, FMS, TRX – December 1, 2016
photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

1. Elevated Rear Foot Split Squat with Shoulder Press  

Set-Up: Cradle ball at chest level and assume split stance position with rear foot elevated on bench. Ensure top of rear foot is flat upon bench versus toes down. Feet should be in line with shoulders and about 3–4 feet apart. 

Action: Drop the back knee to the floor while keeping weight over the heel of the front foot. Avoid shifting forward over the toes. Pressing back up through the heel, come to starting position. With scapula retracted, drive the medicine ball upwards and back down in a controlled conscious manner.

15–20 each side

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2. Half–Kneeling In–Line Stable Lift

Set-Up: Kneel on right knee with the left foot back and toes curled under to form a 90-degree angle. Hold medicine ball in both hands close to body with core engaged.

Action: Bring the medicine ball towards the right hip, while keeping the rest of the body forward and upright. Lift ball diagonally up and across the body. Hold this position for one count before returning to the start position. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction with the right foot forward. Keep arms fully extended through movement to increase difficulty.

15–20 each side

3. Squat–Toss–Burpee

Set-Up: Assume traditional squat position with knees slightly bent at shoulder-width. Engage core while holding medicine ball close to chest. 

Action: Hinge hips to a squat position with thighs parallel to ground at bottom of movement. Drive upwards through heels and throw ball straight up as high as possible. Catch ball (be careful) and immediately dive into a burpee. Perform close grip push up at the bottom of the movement. 

15–20 reps

Keep reading for more workout moves!


4. Push–up/Press/Plank (performed as a superset) 

Set-Up: A) Assume plank position on top of medicine ball. Retract shoulder blades and engage core. 

Action: With elbows close to torso (not flared out) lower body to ball, maintaining a rigid plank position. Drive palms into ball, pushing torso upwards.

15–20 reps

B) Holding medicine ball to chest, lay supine on the floor with scapula retracted. Keeping elbows close to your torso, press the medicine ball upwards. Complete as many reps in rapid succession without sacrificing form. 

C) Position body back over the medicine ball in a plank. Push heels together, tighten glutes, and press downward on the ball as if trying to push it through the floor. Maintain these three points of tension (heels, glutes, ball) and hold for 30 seconds or until failure

Keep reading for more workout moves!


5. Goblet Squat/Jump Squat/Wall Sit (performed as a superset)

Set-Up: A) Cradle the medicine ball against chest with palms up. Engage core and drop into squat position in slow controlled manner, making sure to extend hips as you return upward. 12–20 reps with a 2:1:2 ratio (2 seconds down, 1 second pause, 2 seconds up).

B) Drop medicine ball and perform jump–squats next. Drive heels through the ground and land just behind the balls of your feet. Perform movement as fast as possible without sacrificing form. Challenge yourself to shorten the time actually spent on the ground between landing and propelling back upwards. 15–25 reps. 

C) Holding medicine ball out and away from your body, lean against wall and slide into a position where thighs are parallel to ground. Dig heels into the ground while pushing backwards into the wall with as much force as possible. 

Hold for 30 seconds or until failure

6. Alternating Overhead/Lateral Slams

Set-Up: Hold ball with both hands and stand with feet at shoulder width. Engage core and connect to breath. 

Action: Initiate the countermovement by raising the ball above your head and fully extending your body. Reverse the motion by slamming the ball into the ground directly in front of you as hard as you can. Receive the ball and repeat the set–up, only this time slam the ball down to your left side. Repeat action again, finishing on the right side. To make more challenging, maintain full extension through arms during the lateral throws.

15 reps in each direction

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7. Hanging Horseshoes

Set-Up: Standing beneath a pull-up rack, place a medicine ball between your knees and squeeze. With a pronated grip, initiate a pull-up, but hold once you’ve attained the mid-range position. 

Action: Maintaining the half pull-up, twist from your core, allowing the medicine ball to flow down and to your left. Make sure to initiate the movement with your core, allowing your hips and legs to follow. Hold for a second at the bottom and then crunch the ball upwards, allowing the hips and knees to follow to alternate side. The pattern of movement from side to side should mimic the trajectory of a horseshoe-up and over.

10 reps each side

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