A body sculpting ball, also known as a medicine ball, is a weighted ball that typically is 13 to 14 inches (about 33 to 35.5 cm) in diameter. It is purposely designed for strength training, building core muscles in the abdomen, and often for rehabilitation purposes. Many personal trainers and group exercise programs incorporate the use of body sculpting balls in their exercise regimes. The ball has historically been made in weights from around 2 to 25 pounds (about .9 to 11.3 kg). In modern times, the ball can be found in nearly every size and shape, and weigh as much as 200 pounds (about 90.7 kg).
Classically, the body sculpting ball is about the shape and size as a basketball, though the outer material is usually softer and made of vinyl or other similar covering. It contains various impact-absorbing materials that are weighted for muscle toning. Some have an inner bladder that can be filled with air for increased bounce; however, most are filled with a sand-like material and are not meant to be bounced.
Body sculpting balls have been in use since early recorded history — found in ancient Egyptian and Persian texts — with some dating back before 1000 BC. The Greeks also made use of the sculpting balls, and there are recorded instances of them being utilized in early Olympic training. Body sculpting balls resurged in popularity as trainers and bodybuilders re-discover the explosive muscle toning and growth that can be achieved using one.
In situations where a person cannot afford expensive weight-lifting equipment, a body sculpting ball can be an inexpensive way to build muscle and core strength. It can be held at the waist when doing abdominal exercises, such as crunches or twisting at the waist, or can be thrown between two people to build arm and pectoral strength, as well as increase balance. The body sculpting ball also can be thrown from a lunge position upward at a brick or stone wall to work leg muscles, shoulder muscles, and back muscles.
Some body sculpting ball manufacturers have incorporated handles into the design, so the spherical shape can be held further from the body in order to work more muscle groups. Often, the greater distance the sculpting ball is from the body, the more core strength can be built. The body sculpting ball should not, however, be confused with an inflated exercise ball, which is a larger and much lighter air-filled ball that is used for different exercise purposes.