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Program of Medicine Ball Exercises

Rob Thickpenny provides an overview of a medicine ball strength and conditioning exercises program for all track and field event groups in the general and specific phases of training.

Depending on the athlete's training age and developmental age, the medicine ball should range from 2 to 8kg. Coaches should ensure that the athlete has no pre-existing injuries before using this form of training and that a correct movement pattern (technique) exists before increasing the load.

Dynamic warm-up

The following exercises can be completed with a light medicine ball in the hands (1-3kg) or just with bodyweight until the athlete has a competent movement pattern.

  • Squats x 12
  • Lateral lunge x 6 left & 6 right
  • Sumo squat to overhead press x 12
  • Lunge x 6 left & 6 right
  • Walking single-leg Romanian Deadlift (stiff leg) over 15m
  • Sumo squat with 180 degrees rotation over 15m
  • Press-ups x 12
  • Kneeling lawnmower pulls x 8 left & 8 right
  • Supine leg lifts (free leg bent) x 10 left & 10 right
  • Supine crucifix (Iron Cross) – opposite foot to hand x 8 left & 8 right
  • Standing leg swings – side to side x 8 left & 8 right

A selection of the following exercises should be completed after a thorough dynamic warm-up or after a drills/technical session. See the guidelines in Table 1 below for training parameters.

  • Seated backward throw
  • Chest pass (perform the exercise standing on one leg to improve balance and coordination)
  • 3 touch Russian twist to side throw (increase the intensity by elevating feet)
  • An overhead throw from kneeling position (kneeling lunge)
  • Side throws (against a wall or with a partner)
  • Underhand throw (forwards throw)
  • An overhead throw from standing – single leg balance
  • Standing backwards throw for distance
  • Vertical toss for height
  • Superman toss
  • Plyometric sit-up with an overhead throw or chest pass (increase the intensity by lying supine on Medicine ball or foam roller – positioned at the mid-back)

Advanced Exercises

  • Power drop (coach releasing the ball from a 12 to the 42-inch box)
  • Medicine ball shoulder press throw (increase intensity by performing a vertical jump on release)
  • Supine medicine ball kicks for distance
  • Two-handed Neider throw followed by a 15-metre sprint forwards or backwards
  • Jump squats to medicine ball chest pass
  • Overhead slam to vertical jump
  • V-sits with a medicine ball
  • Backwards throw with a jump to box and stabilise in quarter squat position (box 12 to 42 inches high)
  • Medicine ball walkover press-up (explosive)

Complex Training

A more advanced training method would be to perform explosive medicine ball exercises after a weightlifting exercise, i.e. Cleans or Back Squats followed by a medicine ball vertical toss. This method of training is more commonly known as complex training. As a guideline, this type of training should only be employed with athletes who have at least five years' experience of performance lifting, other compound lifts and have a competent movement pattern.

Table 1 - Training parameters for a method

Bompa et al. (2005)[1] suggests the following loadings:

Training parameters Work
Load Standard
Number of exercises 3 - 6
Number of repetitions per set 10 - 20
Number of sets per session 3 - 5
Number of sessions per week 2 - 4
Rest Interval 1 - 3 minutes
Speed of execution Explosive


  1. BOMPA, T. et al. (2005) Periodisation Training for Sports. 2nd ed. USA: Human Kinetics

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • THICKPENNY, R. (2009) Program of Medicine Ball Exercises [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Rob Thickpenny is a level 3 Performance Coach in Jumps and holds an honours degree in Sports Science from Brunel University. He was an elite level Pole Vaulter for 12 years. Rob has considerable experience as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with Athletics, Professional Squash, Rugby Union and Hockey. Rob has been involved in coach education for three years as a tutor for British Athletics. Currently, he works for England Athletics, responsible for coach support and development in Essex.