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What are Weighted Exercise Balls?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth

Weighted exercise balls, also called medicine balls, are spherical pieces of fitness equipment loaded with sand or other material that adds weight. They are typically no wider than shoulder-width and often resemble a basketball. The exact weight of the ball can vary from about 2 pounds (.9 kg) to about 25 pounds (11.4 kg). Individuals may use weighted exercise balls during physical therapy, weight training, and plyometric weight training in a variety of different exercise movements for a total body workout.

As this equipment can be used in so many ways, weighted exercise balls come in several shapes and sizes. Some are made of hard rubber or leather. Other models are larger because of a padded layer, making the ball cushioned for comfort when throwing and catching. This type is often covered in vinyl.

There are many different exercises one can do using weighted exercise balls. One can work alone or with a partner. To decide which type of ball to use and whether or not to work with a partner, one should first decide which types of exercises to do.

Woman doing yoga
Woman doing yoga

The core muscle groups are a popular target of those who incorporate weighted exercise balls into their workout routines. A typical sit-up can be enhanced when one holds a weighted ball at arm’s length. Side bends can help isolate the oblique muscles. Practically any abdominal exercise can be made more challenging with the use of a medicine ball. As with other types of weights, one may do sets of repetitions during these exercises.

A common move particular to weighted exercise balls is the throw, which can work the arms, chest and shoulders. To perform this move, a person first holds the ball at the chest. Then, with an explosive movement, the ball is thrown against a wall or to a partner. The quick contraction and expansion of muscles used in this workout is often called plyometrics, and this form of exercise can help build muscle and burn calories rapidly.

Some medicine balls are able to bounce if the inner core contains rubber, but not all weighted exercise balls can bounce. If an individual has a bouncing ball, he can throw the ball individually with the use of a sturdy wall. Once the ball is thrown, it should hit the wall and come back to the thrower, who then catches the ball and repeats the movement.

If the weighted ball in use cannot bounce, working with a partner may be necessary to perform throws. Each partner takes a turn throwing and catching the ball. Many people like working with a partner for motivation. Individuals looking to use medicine balls for exercise may wish to seek suggestions and directions for many more movements.

Weighted exercise balls can be purchased from sporting goods stores and are often found at the gym. It is also possible to make a medicine ball by filling an inexpensive basketball with sand or shot and patching the hole carefully. Safety and good form should be practiced when using any kind of weights in order to avoid injury.

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Discussion Comments


I've seen medicine balls, but have never used one. I've never been interested in the kinds of fitness routines that use weighted exercise balls.

I have seen small hand weights that are ball-shaped, but I'm not sure how easy these would be to use while walking or doing light aerobics. I'd think the dumbbell shape would be easier to hang on to.

Medicine balls are generally used as a device in old slapstick comedy movies or cartoons. They're not something you usually see in gyms these days.

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