6 Medicine Ball Exercises For Martial Artists

Medicine ball exercises are often part of martial arts strength and conditioning programs. You have probably seen some of your favorite fighters working with medicine balls on their fight promos. 

Medicine balls give you a more natural workout than lifting weights, and they activate multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Even compound weight lifting exercises like the bench press typically do not engage as many muscle groups as throwing or passing a medicine ball. 

Medicine balls are easy to work with since they can be incorporated into most exercises like push-ups or sit-ups to increase their intensity. 

Exercising with a medicine ball is an effective way to develop your speed and power. These exercises help you transfer the strength gains you’ve made in the weight room into your martial arts techniques. It also teaches you how to use your entire body to generate force, an important skill you need to learn to maximize the power of your strikes. 

Also, medicine balls increase your kinetic linking, which improves your ability to generate power while simultaneously performing other actions with your body. 


Six Medicine Ball Exercises That Improve Your Abilities As A Martial Artist

A well-designed medicine ball routine develops your rotational, horizontal, and vertical power, improving your athleticism. 

Some effective medicine ball exercises for martial arts include:


1) The Shotput Throw

This medicine ball exercise targets many of the muscles you use when punching or pushing someone away. The technique used for the exercise mimics how a shotput is thrown. It builds your ability to transfer power from your lower body upwards while rotating your torso to generate power. 

Sounds familiar, right?

Yeah, that’s exactly how your instructor probably teaches you to throw a punch. You get to use weights for extra resistance with a medicine ball, making your muscles work harder. Here’s what the exercise looks like:

  • Hold on to a medicine ball with both of your hands while standing in front of a wall.
  • Keep the medicine ball right under your chin.
  • Move away from the wall, so the ball shifts towards your rear shoulder.
  • Bend at the knees and drop your hips.
  • Uncoil from the position, rotate your obliques, and launch the ball.
  • Repeat the exercise on your other side to complete a rep. Aim for eight to twelve reps and three sets.


2) Straight Arm Throw

Here’s another exercise that involves a push/punch pattern. It’s a great way to develop your punching power. Your strength gains from this exercise carry over to your straight punches like your jab and cross

Here’s how you perform a straight arm throw:

  • Stand squared facing a wall with your feet about hip-width apart and a medicine ball in your hands.
  • Bring the elbow of the arm you’ll be throwing with towards your hips and load up your hips.
  • Extend at your hips and elbows simultaneously, propelling the ball towards the wall. Try not to over-rotate while performing the motion.
  • Repeat the exercise on your other side to complete a rep.


3) Overhead Throw

This exercise develops explosive strength in your lats, triceps, and core. This increases the power behind your punching and kicking techniques. The exercise looks somewhat like how soccer players throw inbound passes when done correctly. 

Here’s how to perform an overhead throw: 

  • Stand with a medicine ball in your hands and face a wall.
  • Dip your hips, so your torso leans forward.
  • Extend your hips as you bring the medicine ball behind your head.
  • Take a step forward and throw the ball at the wall when your hips are fully extended.
  • Repeat the exercise on both sides to complete a rep. Aim for about eight to twelve reps and three sets.


4) Rotational Slams

This exercise helps to improve your stability and builds up rotational strength. It also helps to improve your ability to control your body while performing dynamic movements. Here’s how to perform a rotational slam:

  • Start by getting into a split stance.
  • Dig your back foot into the floor for extra stability.
  • Sit into your front leg while turning your front foot into the ground. This allows you to produce torque for the exercise.
  • While holding a medicine ball with your hands, dip down and bring it towards your hip on the side of your back leg.
  • Bring the ball over your head with both arms extended.
  • Slam the ball down hard. Repeat on your other side to complete a rep. Perform three sets of eight to twelve reps.


5) Wall Slam

This exercise typically involves working with a training partner who throws the ball at you so you can redirect its force and fling it towards a wall. The exercise improves your ability to absorb and redirect forces, an essential skill for martial artists. 

It also helps to improve your rotational power and reactive strength. These are two traits you should be working on if increasing your knockout power is one of your top training goals. 

Here’s what the exercise looks like: 

  • Start with a partner standing diagonally from you while you are perpendicular to a wall.
  • Have your partner throw the medicine ball towards the back of the hips while you get into a ready position with your feet hip-width apart and your hips loaded.
  • Catch the ball, absorb its force, and uncoil your body as you throw the ball at the wall.
  • Perform eight to twelve reps on both sides to complete a set. Aim for about three sets.


6) Dynamic Wall Slams 

This shares similar movements with wall slams, but it incorporates a dynamic component to the exercise. Instead of just throwing the ball after catching it, you take a back step that helps to build forward momentum. This allows you to throw the ball with more power. 

Here’s what the exercise looks like:

  • Get into position so that you’re perpendicular to a wall with your hips a little more than shoulder-width apart and grab a medicine ball.
  • Load the ball at your hips, sink your hips, and execute a back step. Push off your back leg after the step to generate momentum moving forward.
  • Rotate your hips as you throw the ball towards the wall. Repeat on your other side to complete a rep.


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