The Power of Medicine Ball Training


The medicine ball has become a staple in most training gyms. You can do several exercises with a medicine ball and they don’t take up a ton of room. The best part is that anybody can use them and benefit from regardless of training age or ability. One of my favorite ways to get clients to develop more power is through the utilization of medicine ball throws and slams.

Unlike Olympic lifts, throwing medicine balls are easier to pick up and use. Additionally, this form of training is one of the only tools to develop torso power. Developing torso power is essential for tennis and golf athletes (just to name a few) and even for general fitness clients just wanting to be more fit, active, and injury resistant. All ages and fitness levels can pick up and train with medicine balls.

Benefits of Med Ball Training

planes of motion

Power training via plyometrics and Olympic tend to focus on a singular plane of motion while power training with med ball can allow your client to work through multiple planes of motion on a single throw. Plyometrics and Olympic lifts certainly have their place in training but neither can have the same effect on core power.

Types of Medicine Balls

There are two types of medicine balls, one that bounces and one that doesn’t bounce. The medicine balls that bounce are great for developing concentric power only. Probably the best application for this type of ball would be to throw in a wide-open space. The medicine balls that I use for clients are the non-bouncing balls. This is because you can throw the ball as hard as you can (concentrically) against a masonry wall (or reinforced wall) and it will have very little rebound effect coming back to you, making it beneficial for eccentric power and safety of catching off the wall (without risk of face injury!).


Medicine Ball Exercises

 Rotational Scoop Throws

Close Facing Throws

Overhead Step and Throws

Plyometric Training course

Shotput Throws

Ball Slams


Diagonal Ball Slams

Alternating Windmill Slams

Considerations for Medicine Ball Training

In order to get the most benefit from medicine ball throws, it’s important to throw the ball hard and to be aggressive. Power is the product of strength and speed {P=(Force × Distance) ÷ Time} so it would make sense to get the medicine ball from point A to Point B as fast a possible.

The second consideration would be to keep repetitions on the lower side– 20-30 total throws per workout which permits focus to remain more on the quality of throws versus chasing fatigue. Always opt for a lighter medicine ball because you can throw a lighter ball faster than you can a heavy ball which is the whole point of power: think speed!

Lastly, with any type of power work, try to do it at the beginning of the workout when your client is most fresh and it will work the nervous system more efficiently.

Start Using a Medicine Ball

Medicine balls can be a much safer and easier tool to implement for all ages and abilities than other heavy equipment. Remember to consider the ball that you are using (bounce vs non-bounce balls) and train smart: fewer repetitions, throw hard as if you were trying to break through something (like the wall or floor), and use a lighter ball versus a heavier ball. Have your clients implement medicine balls in their training and help them to become more powerful!


Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.