Also known as a fitness ball, a med ball, or an exercise ball, a medicine ball is a weighted ball about the width of the shoulders (roughly 13.7 inches), often used for strength training and rehabilitation. These balls have been around for a long time and were traditionally found in boxing and wrestling gyms. That has changed however, and medicine balls can now be found in home gyms, sporting goods stores, and commercial gyms everywhere.
This versatile ball can be used just like traditional weights for simple strength training- you can curl it and press it just like with kettlebells
to achieve lean muscle growth. A good medicine ball can do more than what these traditional weights can do, though. You can use one for powerful throwing and catching activities. This develops rapid strength for sports like wrestling, MMA, and boxing. Your overall fitness gets quite the boost, too.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro athlete, a med ball can be an excellent addition to your workout regime. Just like balance balls
, most of these balls come in a wide range of sizes and weights, so you’re sure to find one appropriate for your fitness level. Med balls have a hard shell made mostly of tough rubber, allowing them to handle high-velocity hits against hard surfaces.
For beginners, or those looking to do faster-paced activities, we advise you to go for lighter weight balls between 4 and 6 pounds. Those with more experience can definitely handle more weight and should go for balls weighing 10 pounds and more.
It’s good to note that some med balls are categorized into two categories: those for CrossFit and those for slamming. The slamming balls typically come with a strong outer layer and stitching that prevents impact-based tears. Some balls can bounce while others can’t. At the end of the day, the ball you choose should match your needs!
Let’s dig deeper into what you need to consider when choosing a good medicine ball, then we can go straight to our picks.
The price of medicine balls varies greatly depending on the weight of the ball, the materials it’s made of, its durability, and the individual brands. Expect to spend anything between $30 and $45 for a high-quality medicine ball. Balls made of leather or vinyl will generally cost more compared to those made of cheaper materials like plastic. The price range might pass that depending on the extras, so make sure you only get the features you need and nothing more. Be warned against very cheap medicine balls. They might not stand up to everyday abuse and might not give you the training results you’re looking for.
With dozens of companies selling medicine balls out there, how do you purchase the one that suits you?
Here are some features to consider:
- Durability – A med ball takes so much abuse compared to any other exercise equipment. It gets bounced, thrown against the wall, dropped, and punched! If you want this piece of equipment to last while reaping all the benefits that come with it, then do a little research to see what others are saying before you make a buy.
- Weight –Medicine balls range in weight from 2 to 30+ pounds. Note that a ball that is too heavy will decrease your motor skills and endurance, resulting in poor technique and form. This can ultimately lead to injuries. You might want to try out a couple of weights to see which one feels more comfortable for your exercises.
- Bounce or No Bounce – Medicine balls can basically be grouped into two categories: those that can bounce and those that cannot. The kind of workouts you intend to do will determine the type of ball to go for.
- Surface of the ball – This feature could vary depending on what you intend to use your ball for. If you plan on using your ball outdoors for exercises such as wall bounces or overhead slams, a rubber surface might be your best choice. If you intend to use it indoors for traditional ab movements and presses, then a vinyl or leather ball might be more appropriate.
- Type – Besides bouncing or not bouncing, there are other differences that exist between medicine balls. There are balls that have smooth gripping, sand inside, one handle, rope handles, two handles, leather on the outside, a rubber surface, and the ability to be inflated; so pick one that meets your needs.
Construction and Design
Now that you know what features you want in a medicine ball, it’s time to go shopping. Here are some of the balls we recommend and why.
Bounceable Medicine Balls
These are regular medicine balls; the lighter they are the higher they will bounce. Bounceable med balls are excellent for static core workouts where the ball isn’t thrown. They range in weight from 2lbs to 30lbs, with 10-15 lbs being considered the average heavy weight. The 30lb medicine balls are very heavy and are mainly used by advanced athletes. Most high school age athletes cannot handle the 30lb medicine balls.
Soft Balls with no Bounce (Slam Balls)
These balls are mostly used to apply maximum force by tossing them against the wall or ground. Soft balls do not bounce; you can slam a 50lb med ball as hard as possible into the ground without having to worry about it breaking your nose… it will simply settle to the ground. These balls are perfect for rotational pushes at the wall with full force. As the ball strikes the wall, it falls straight down instead of bouncing back to hit you. Slam balls are quite inexpensive!
Rope Balls (Tornado Balls)
These are must have balls for any athlete or conditioning coach. Rope balls will push your core training to a whole new level. You should stand with your back facing the wall and swing this ball from one side to the other as hard as possible. Using some creativity, this ball can let you do even more. You need to have a strong core to handle these balls.
Whichever ball you choose, it’s good to have different weights. It makes no difference whether you want it for your commercial or home gym.
Performance and Ease of Use
Med balls are versatile and valuable in many workouts and can be included into routines for both beginners and seasoned athletes with ease.
The best medicine ball will depend on what you intend to use it for. If you intend to do stationary exercises such as presses and squats, throw it back and forth, or just do some ab workouts, any material will do just fine. If you plan to slam it against walls or on the ground, then you are going to need something more durable. Note that rubber balls have an end life. Few months of abuse can make them lose shape or crack, tampering with their rebound ability and possibly even causing leaks.
When it comes to material, it all boils down to how you want the ball to feel. While some people prefer a leather-like feel such as that of a soccer ball, others prefer a rubberized feel like that of a basketball.
Lastly, the correct weight and size will depend on your own weight and how much you can handle. Take note that different companies have different diameters for specific weights, even though they are actually the same weights. If you are small, you might want to buy a ball with a smaller diameter compared to others. However, it pays to know that the weight of the ball is more important than the size.
Selecting a medicine ball that will be easy to use is simple. The three major factors necessary to consider include material, durability, and size/weight.
We looked at high quality fitness brands that focus on making the best medicine balls. On top of that, we compared their prices to the material quality, grip, and durability. We focused mainly on standard medicine balls, but also looked at some leather medicine balls since they can be just as effective. Each of the med balls we chose comes in a range of weights, allowing you to pick the one perfect for you.
Champion Sports began as a small family operation, with Bernard and Dolores Meller hand crafting some of their first designs. They work hard to make every piece of fitness equipment stand out with the best materials. They began operations over 50 years ago, and today they've expanded their product lines to include a wide variety of fun physical education equipment such as playground balls, sport nets, horse shoe sets, athletic wear and more.
This particular med ball is great for serious and casual work outs. It's ideal for strength training, cardio, building flexibility and performing a wide variety of dynamic muscle exercises. The outside is covered with thick leather for comfortable grip and feel. This medicine ball has been newly designed for increased durability.
This fitness ball comes in 5 weights, each with a different color: 4-5, 6-7, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14 lbs.
Consider what kind of feel you want your medicine ball to have. How high it bounces is important, too. We hope we’ve helped you find the best medicine ball that suits you. If you didn’t, these brands all offer high quality med balls to train with, so don’t hesitate to look for their alternatives.