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Total-Body Workouts for Women

The Total-Body Medicine-Ball Circuit Your Routine Needs

Fix what’s ailing your progress with a head-to-toe routine centered around this one piece of equipment.

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There was a time when “home gym” meant a gleaming selection of chrome-plated machines and benches along with a full set of dumbbells, weight plates and barbells to round out your perfect pump-you-up palace. Good luck if you didn’t have 1,000 square feet to spare.

Nowadays, however, we know better. An exercise mat and a few well-chosen implements can turn any corner of your house into a productive, Zen-like zone for getting fitter and healthier. The following total-body medicine-ball workout proves just that.

This routine from celebrity trainer Jason Kozma, former Mr. America and owner of High Performance Personal Training in Los Angeles — armed with just one medicine ball, he leads you through a session that hits your whole body from head to toe.

The Total-Body Medicine-Ball Workout

Each of the following 10 moves incorporate a medicine ball — which can be the old-school soft type with the stitched cover or the new-school hard rubber version, whichever you prefer.

You’ll do them in a circuit, resting minimally in between exercises and just one to two minutes in between each of three circuits to catch your breath and regroup for the next round. If you have multiple balls to choose from, strive to graduate to the heavier-weighted ones as you become more proficient and stronger in each exercise. 

If you’re short on time, simply trim off one round or cut the reps down to 10 max per move.

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat & Overhead Press 3 10-20
Med-Ball Slam 3 10-20
Twisting Walking Lunge 3 10-20
Stiff-Legged Deadlift 3 10-20
Lying Press, Throw & Catch 3 10-20
Rolling-Ball Push-Up 3 10-20
Med-Ball Pullover 3 10-20
Med-Ball Hip Thrust 3 10-20
Russian Twist 3 10-20
Overhead Med-Ball Triceps Extension 3 10-20

Exercise How-tos

Squat + Overhead Press

Targets: Legs and Shoulders

Holding a ball in against your chest with both hands, squat until your thighs reach a point parallel with the floor. Drive through your heels back to a standing position, and in one smooth motion, press the ball straight overhead. Lower the ball back to your chest and immediately start descending into your next rep.

Med-Ball Slam

Targets: Back and Shoulders

Hold a medicine ball behind your head with both hands, elbows bent. Next, drive the ball over your head and forcefully downward in front of you, propelling it toward the floor as hard as you can. Bend your knees to pick it up on the bounce, and immediately bring it up and back behind your head to do the next rep.

Twisting Walking Lunge

Targets: Legs and Core

Holding a ball a few inches in front of you, elbows bent, step forward with your left leg into a lunge as you simultaneously turn your upper body to the right. Bring your right foot forward — driving through the heel of your forward foot to generate power — to reach a standing position as you also twist your torso to face forward, then repeat, this time stepping with your right leg as you twist your upper body to the left.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Target: Hamstrings

Stand upright holding a medicine ball in front of your upper thighs in both hands, elbows extended. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your chest up and core tight to maintain the natural arch in your lower back, lean forward from your hips, pushing them rearward until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. As you lean forward, keep your arms straight and slide the ball down your thighs toward the floor until it reaches your shins, then flex your hamstrings and glutes and lift your torso while pushing your hips forward until you return to standing.

Lying Press, Throw + Catch

Targets: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

To start, lie on the floor, body in a straight line and in contact from head to heel, holding the ball over your chest. Extend your arms explosively to throw the medicine ball straight up as high as you can, then catch it on the way down, allowing it to settle softly in your hands with your elbows unlocked. Bring it all the way down to your chest and repeat.

Rolling-Ball Push-Up

Targets: Chest and Triceps

In a plank position, place your feet together, toes on the floor, with one hand on the floor and the other atop a medicine ball. Keeping your head neutral and abs tight, lower yourself as far as you can by bending your elbows, then press through your palms until your arms are straight once again, focusing on flexing your pectorals and triceps while also maintaining your balance. Once you reach the top position, roll the ball underneath you to your other hand, then place that hand atop the ball with the other on the floor and do another rep.

Med-Ball Pullover

Target: Lats

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet planted near your glutes. Hold a med-ball with your arms extended above your face. With just a slight 10-degree bend in your elbows, slowly lower the ball backward as your elbows drop down to align with your ears. When the ball touches lightly down to the floor, pause for a one-count, then flex through your lats to reverse direction to bring the ball back overhead.

Med-Ball Hip Thrust

Targets: Glutes and Hamstrings

Lie faceup on the floor with your hands holding a medicine ball on your lap, knees bent and feet planted just behind your glutes. Thrust your hips as high as you can into the air while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold that position for a one-count, then lower your hips back to the floor. For a greater challenge, do one leg at a time, holding one leg up in the air throughout a set as you perform reps with the planted leg.

Russian Twist 

Target: Core

Balance on your glutes, with your knees bent, feet elevated and torso forming a 45-degree angle with the floor. Grasp a medicine ball in both hands at your chest. First, twist your torso to the right and touch the ball down to the floor on that side, then slowly twist all the way back to the left and touch the ball down again. Once to each side equals one rep.

Overhead Med-Ball Triceps Extension

Target: Triceps

Stand upright and hold a medicine ball in both hands, arms extended straight overhead — your upper arms should be alongside your ears. Bend your elbows as far as you can to lower the ball under control behind your head, pause for a one-count at the bottom to accentuate the stretch, and then extend your elbows to lift the ball back up to the start.