There is only one exercise that every client enjoys. They ask for it. They cheer when I tell them they get to do it. Any guesses what exercise it is?

Medicine ball slams.

As a personal trainer I love medicine ball slams because they are a great low impact (unless you count the impact of the ball on the floor) exercise that gets your heart rate up and develops power. Anyone at any age or fitness level can do medicine ball slams. My clients love them because they are a great stress reliever.

A medicine ball is actually a very versatile piece of exercise equipment. It can be used in many strength exercises in place of a dumbbell, like wood chops or tricep extensions. I’ve found this especially handy with clients who have grip issues. With certain types of tendonitis holding a ball is less painful than trying to grip a dumbbell. I once had a client with cerebral palsy who could not grab a dumbbell but could hold a small medicine ball.

They can also provide a new level of challenge to your workout because of their shape and their ability to be thrown, bounced and rolled. Yet the medicine ball is less threatening than many other types of exercise equipment. You throw a ball as a kid, you know how to do that. It feels safe in a mysterious gym full of otherwise foreign and intimidating tools.

Perhaps best of all they are relatively inexpensive and you can keep one anywhere. You only need one to get a great workout that combines both strength and cardio. If you’re short on time, try this five move medicine ball circuit training workout to get your heart rate up, work most of your major muscles and have some fun while doing it! Beginners, go through this circuit two times, 30 seconds per exercise. If you’re more advanced do this up to four times and 45 seconds per exercise.

  • Squat and Raise

    Start standing with feet shoulder width apart and toes turned out slightly. Hold your medicine ball low and in front of you with straight arms. Descend into your squat with the goal of touching the floor with your medicine ball. As you come out of the squat raise the medicine ball over head with straight arms. Lower ball and repeat.

  • Soccer Taps

    Place the medicine ball on the ground in front of you. Shift your weight from side to side as you lift a leg up and tap the top of the ball with your toe. Make sure you bring your knee all the way up so you hit the top of the ball and not kick it on the side.

  • Lunge and Twist

    Hold your medicine ball at chest height, close to the body. Take a forward lunge with the right foot, hold the lunge and twist to your right. Return the ball to center and then come out of the lunge to return to the starting position. The lunge forward with the left foot, holding while you twist to your left. Return to center and then back to start. Continue alternating sides.

  • Medicine Ball Push Ups

    Get in push up position with a medicine ball under one hand and the other flat on the ground. Perform a push up, then roll the ball to the other hand. This can be done on your toes or knees, just keep your body straight and don’t engage your hips.

  • Medicine Ball Slams

    As I said, this core activating and heart rate elevating exercise is the favorite among my clients. Use a rubber medicine ball that will bounce. Hold it high above your head then throw it forcefully down to the ground. Don’t use your legs! Keep your arms straight and focus on using your shoulders and back for the slam.

Did I mention medicine balls are portable too? If you’ve got a summer road trip planned, grab a medicine ball to do these moves on the road. You’ll have fun and get a great workout on the go.

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