Medicine ball training has been around since the ancient Greeks discovered health benefits from exercising with weighted balls. It is one of the oldest forms of strength and conditioning used to improve health, explosive power, and speed.

Medicine balls are versatile, portable and a fad that’s lasted the test of time. Several styles and sizes exist – some are made of rubber or leather, some absorb load, and others bounce really high. But how can a weighted sphere be so simple, yet have the potential to be so functional?

Explosive Power Training

Power, in relation to exercise and athletics, is the product of strength and speed, or force and velocity. Therefore, the more powerful you are, the more force you can develop quickly.

Research has shown us that the ability to generate maximal power typically results in enhanced athletic performance1. The medicine ball serves as an excellent tool that can be used to enhance your power output. The freedom of movement allows for endless variations of exercises that can be tailored to your needs and more importantly, it teaches the body to work as an integrated system, which is key for improving athleticism and sport performance.

The Science

The ability to produce maximal power depends on many characteristics that go far beyond the scope of this article; however, your goals when training power should focus on movement coordination and efficiency with the ballistic intent to move the medicine ball as fast as humanly possible despite its weight. Force depends on your ability to recruit what are called high threshold motor units, which are muscle fibers that have the ability to contract very fast and explosively2. This ability is also known as neuromuscular efficiency and is enhanced with explosive medicine ball training.

The Medicine Ball Workout

This full-body workout incorporates med ball training with traditional full-body exercises. Focus on the quality and speed of execution rather than quantity. If your repetitions start to slow down, terminate the set.

Warm up with this simple med ball routine: Perform 2 sets

  1. Med ball wall chest throws x 10
  2. Med ball wall overhead throws x 10
  3. Med ball lateral wall throws x 10/side
  4. Overhead med ball squats x 10
  5. Med ball hug single leg Romanian deadlifts x 10/side
  6. Med ball hug lateral lunges or Cossack squats x 10/side

Exercise Name

Sets x Reps


A1. Med ball Squat Jump Throw from bench

5 x 5


A2. 30-yard sprint

5 x 1


B1. Pull Up (weighted if possible)

3 x 5


B2. Overhead Med ball slam

3 x 8-10


C1. Pushup (weighted if possible)

3 x 5-8


C2. Explosive Supine Medicine Ball Chest Pass

3 x 8-10


D1. Rotational Med ball throws

3 x 8-10/side


D2. V-sit Med ball Chest Throws

3 x 10-12



Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP, is a Strength Coach and Fitness Writer out of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. He contributes regularly to many major health and fitness magazines and websites and is currently in the middle of a master’s in exercise physiology at Memorial University. Check out more of his work at and follow him on Twitter at @JKConditioning.

1Cormie, P., McGuigan, M.R., and Newton, R.U. (2011). Review article: Developing maximal neuromuscular power part 1: Biological basis of maximal power production. Sports Med, 41(1), 17-38.
2Defranco, J. and Smith, J. (2011). Power: Explosive training for athletic domination.

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