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Fit Check: Mastering the Medicine Ball

ESPN calls it the “ball that just won’t die.” Here at Well+Being, the medicine ball is our new best friend.

Weighted medicine balls can be used in almost any workout, whether you’re doing plyometrics, receiving physical therapy, or increasing muscle endurance. This six-step program, recommended by Gold Gym’s Ballston trainer Tony Scott, uses a medicine ball to tone your whole body.

Medicine balls range in weight from two to 200 pounds. Unless you’re Superman, Scott says to start with a two-to-six-pound ball and work your way up.

Warmup: Warm up for ten to 15 minutes on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical.

Exercise 1: Squat
Muscle area: Quads, glutes, shoulders
Reps: Two to three sets of 12 to 15
Hold the ball out in front of you at chest height. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Drop down into a squat, keeping your back straight and arms extended throughout the exercise. Repeat.

Exercise 2: Wall sit
Muscle area: Quads, glutes
Reps: Two to three sets of 45 seconds to 1 minute
Hold the ball between your knees and sit against a wall. Keep your arms crossed in front of you. Hold for 45 seconds to a minute.
Your legs will be shaking after this exercise, but wall sits can increase your heart rate to eight times more than your resting rate.

Exercise 3: Push-up
Muscle area: Core, arms
Reps: Two to three sets of 12 to 15
Place each hand on two med balls of the same weight. Get into a push-up position. Drop down into a push-up. Remember to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Repeat.

Exercise 4: Leg weave
Muscle area: Core, arms, lower back
Reps: Two to three sets of 12 to 15
Sit on the ground and lean back slightly. Raise your legs off the floor and weave the ball through them in a figure-eight rotation. Repeat.

Exercise 5: Push press
Muscle area: Shoulders, core
Reps: Two to three sets of 12 to 15
Sit on the ground with legs extended and back upright. Hold two same-weight balls in the palm of your hands at your shoulders. Extend your arms above your head so you’re “pressing” the balls up. Bring your arms back to shoulder height and repeat.

Exercise 6: Lying lats
Muscle area: Back muscles
Reps: Two to three sets of 12 to 15
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hold the ball over your chest with your arms extended. Lower the ball behind you until it almost touches the ground. Bring the ball back to starting position and repeat. Be sure to keep your arms extended throughout the entire exercise.

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