May 05, 2023

The Best Medicine Balls to Round Out Your Dynamic Fitness Routine

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No matter your skill level, these effective training tools can be a great addition to your workout programming — if you know which one to choose.

Want to add some explosive exercises to your workout regimen that can target your strength and stamina? Getting tired of the normal barbell and weight plate modalities? Looking for an all-inclusive way to work your movement mechanics and develop some power?

If you've ever pondered over the above questions, then it might be time to consider adding a medicine ball to your daily fitness regimen. These convenient training tools can be used by everyone from the novice to the veteran and house a plethora of muscle-building, calorie-burning qualities in their spherical shape. There are plenty of diverse exercises you can perform with medicine balls, and thus, there are a multitude of medicine ball types to choose from.

I’ve been using medicine balls within my training for years and often turn to a number of the below picks for varied sessions targeting explosiveness, core strength and other fitness qualities. I always look to utilize profiles that are well-balanced and grippy, as well as those showcasing durable exteriors that can withstand the typical wear and tear of most training sessions. Also, I look at how legible the listed weights are across each profile, because playing the guessing game when gearing up for a hard-nosed regimen is a headache I wish on no one. I also try to keep my workouts as varied as possible with the occasional slams or wall tosses, so I’ve gathered a good understanding of which medicine ball profiles facilitate these more aggressive movements as well.

With a leather construction and ergonomic 14-inch diameter, this soft medicine ball from Titan Fitness is a great tool for working multiple muscle groups in one fell swoop. The durable exterior sits comfortably on the forearms, while the tight, thick double stitching ensures a resilient build. I also admired the flat front stitching that didn't get in the way of varying grips or become abrasive across different modalities. The Titan Fitness Soft Medicine Ball also features two loops sewn in for easier grip and convenient storage capabilities. While a more expansive weight range would be nice — you have five options from 6–30 pounds — this can be a great fitness accessory at a very reasonable price point.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

If you want an intense medicine ball to match your intense training, look no further than the XD Kevlar lineup from TRX. Built with durable DuPont Kevlar, this training tool can take a proverbial beating and still come back for more. In testing, I found this silhouette to provide the best tackiness thanks to the DuPont Kevlar exterior, even when medicine ball exercises fell toward the end of my sweat-filled regimen. I do recommend, though, that you limit bouncing this ball, as the shape can become warped over time. At such a premium price, you’ll kind of want to baby this pick, even though the exterior demands a thrashing.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

Medicine balls don't need to break the bank, and slam balls in particular can be a great cost-effective option for their durable construction in a denser, smaller profile. This slam ball from RAGE Fitness offers plenty of calorie-burning potential in its rubber silhouette. An added air valve allows for the pressure to dissipate after every toss, and you can even customize the bounce rate with a handy air pump. The exterior is textured for some added grip security, too. If you’re on a budget and still want to reap the benefits of medicine ball training, this is a great entry-level pick.

*Price shown is for a 15-pound medicine ball

Living.Fit does an exceptional job at making workout equipment for the home gym space, and the brand's slam ball is no exception. I enjoyed how easy it was to grip the triangle-treaded exterior, and the rubber silhouette ensures this fitness tool is ready for the long haul. The sand fill does float within, which may dissuade some users, but I found the silhouette remained mostly balanced during movements and offered a unique challenge to workouts, if anything. And thanks to a wide weight range, you can find the perfect weight to really drive home those slam exercises for explosiveness and power.

*Price shown is for a 15-pound medicine ball

For wall tosses and other dynamic modalities, the performance aspects of this impressive medicine ball from ETHOS are hard to ignore. The vinyl-coated nylon shell provides enough tackiness and grip to achieve the proper throwing traction, and also holds the added benefit of being moisture resistant for improved durability. Plus, after countless wall tosses and drives, this wall ball easily retains its shape, allowing for more efficient training as the sessions add up. Granted, I would appreciate a more robust weight range, for those just wanting a rock-solid wall ball to add to their garage gym, this ETHOS offering hits all the checkmarks.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

Medicine balls don't have to be these dense, gargantuan spheres for an effective training experience. Case in point, toning balls are a smaller, handheld option that typically weigh less than their larger counterparts. These picks from Stott Pilates showcase a comfortable PVC exterior that's easy to grip, and the dual pack makes training both sides of your body simultaneously a more approachable endeavor. I appreciate how these smaller silhouettes can boost most aerobic exercises and core-targeting disciplines, but don't expect these Stott Pilates profiles to replace your more traditional medicine ball routines. The makeup is not intended for throws or slams, so it's best to save these for less intense workout sessions where stabilizing work is the targeted goal.

*Price shown is for a 1-pound medicine ball

Handled medicine balls can be a great option for lifts and carries as well as other training modalities, and this option from Body Solid is prime for those versatile endeavors. I appreciate the non-slip handle design and wide grip window, as this allows for a more secure grip across a number of movements. Plus, the rubber exterior sits comfortably across the skin making this an excellent alternative for kettlebell swings. Just be sure to give these medicine balls a good wipe down before getting into a session. There's a present residue across the profile that can make for slick, stinky handling if not tended to prior to exercise.

*Price shown is for a 12-pound medicine ball

For those looking to implement wall tosses primarily in their workouts, you should look for a medicine ball that can rebound easily for an easier training experience. The SPRI rubber medicine ball offers plenty of bounce and, from my opinion, should last a number of training seasons. The high-quality rubber construction allows for plenty of abuse, while the dimpled texture gives it that basketball-like aesthetic. Despite its positive performance when it comes to bounce, I’d recommend avoiding slam exercises with this medicine ball. Slamming this pick could result in overzealous wear and tear, and because of the springy rebound, you could wind up getting a taste of the exterior. Trust me … it's not a mid-workout snack worth trying.

*Price shown is for a 12-pound medicine ball

PVC is typically a cheaper alternative to leather when it comes to medicine balls — our top pick from Titan Fitness is one of the lone exceptions. With that said, though, if you are looking for a PVC ball, this option from Ziva takes the cake. I really enjoy the grip offered via the durable PVC exterior, and I’ve noticed no signs of wear across the stitching. Plus, the vibrant colorways and easy-to-read labels ensure your’e training with the proper weight time and time again. I do recommend saving this silhouette for less slam-oriented exercises, though. While the seams and stitching are durable for intense training, the interior bladder can begin to warp its shape if slammed or dropped too many times.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

If you want a rubber medicine ball that's versatile enough for wall throws, slams, partner tosses and more, look no further than the Immortal Wall Ball from Fringe Sport. The rubber shell sets this apart from other 14-inch medicine balls, as most at this diameter are composed of leather or synthetic materials. This change in construction can allow for better shape retention over extended use, improved grip when workouts get sweaty and less of a need for raised seams that can feel abrasive on the skin if held improperly.

Because of the boosted roundness of the Immortal Wall Ball, however, this medicine ball has a tendency to roll around a lot when not in use. Be sure to prop or store it securely when you’re not engaging in training, otherwise you may be chasing this impressive silhouette around your setup for a few minutes before each set.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

Similar to how there's a clear difference between sporting goods balls — you wouldn't play baseball with a soccer ball — there are a number of medicine balls available to give you the best training experience possible. While you can perform plenty of exercises with one singular silhouette, here are a few factors to consider to ensure your equipment is up to your regimen's demands.

Naturally, one of the first items to think of when choosing a medicine ball is the weight you plan to use. If you're looking to train with medicine balls for strength and power, a heavier ball can provide enough resistance to suit your workouts. A lighter ball can also be effective in cardio or explosive workouts, allowing you to complete the movement with less strain. Think about your goals and abilities, then choose the weight you think will pose enough of a challenge without compromising your form.

Looking inward, medicine balls are typically filled with three materials, all designed to influence the performance.

Sand-filled medicine balls can provide a dense construction, allowing for heavier components in a slimmed-down profile. This style can be great for slams and carries, as well as other dynamic lifts.

Air-filled balls are naturally lighter than their sandy constituents, but they can still prove to be effective training tools. Because of the decreased resistance, air-filled medicine balls can be great for explosive movements like overhead throws.

Finally, soft medicine balls can typically feature a foam or synthetic interior, allowing for a wide variety of modalities including wall balls, carries, overhead tosses and others. Soft medicine balls are typically larger than sand-filled medicine balls because they need more space to provide the same mass.

To best control your medicine ball through any movement or exercise, you want an exterior with a little bit of grit. Additionally, your medicine ball's exterior should be durable enough to withstand multiple training sessions, especially if you're partaking in more aggressive modalities like slams. Most medicine balls are constructed from either rubber, leather or PVC.

Rubber medicine balls can be some of the most durable options out there, thanks to the resiliency of the material. Rubber balls can also be denser, which is why some of the heaviest medicine balls feature this construction. If you're hard on your equipment — or really want to practice slam workouts — this is the pick for you.

Leather medicine balls are another popular choice, providing enough grip and security while still remaining comfortable on the forearms and hands. Whether synthetic or natural, leather medicine balls can be a great option for general training purposes.

PVC balls are similar to leather, albeit at a lower price point. While these medicine balls can also be exceptional for general fitness needs, they aren't as durable to wear and tear. If you aren't putting a ton of strain on your gear or use medicine balls more in a free-weight fashion, these can still be a worthwhile option for your home gym.

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