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Mix-and-Match Workout: Medicine Ball

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This routine packs a major fat-burning punch with a piece of equipment made popular by boxers of yesteryear: a medicine ball. The central exercise in the workout is the medicine-ball slam, a dynamic move initiated by a powerful contraction in the abs and punctuated by the back, chest and arms throwing the ball into the ground.

Outside of the slams, you’ll get a great burn in the quads and glutes with pulsing sumo squats, some biceps and anterior shoulder work with curl to front raises, hamstring isolation with leg curls, and more core and ab work via Russian twists during this medicine-ball workout. 

By the end of this old-school, full-body routine designed by Shayla Rog, CPT, transformation coach and owner of Operation: Badass, you’ll be feeling like Laila Ali! 

Check out more installments of the Oxygen Mix-and-Match Workout series!

Bodyweight Warm-Up

Instructions: This is an “activation circuit” that Rog recommends doing at the start of all her mix-and-match workouts. Perform the below three exercises as a circuit (one after the other without resting), completing the circuit two times. Rog’s website offers video demonstrations of the three exercises (first three exercises shown).

Exercise Reps
Bird Dog 10 (each side)
Frog Pump 10
Arm Circles 10 (each way)

The Mix-and-Match Medicine-Ball Workout

Instructions: The routine can be performed with a medicine ball weighing anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds. On supersets, go directly from the first exercise to the second without resting. After the second exercise in the pairing, rest 60 to 90 seconds and repeat the superset. After your third time through the superset, go straight to the next exercise (medicine-ball slam).

Exercise Sets Reps
Medicine-Ball Slam 1 30
Medicine-Ball Sumo Squat With Pulse
— superset with —
Medicine-Ball Biceps Curl to Front Raise
3

3
12-15

10
Medicine-Ball Slam 1 30
Medicine-Ball Hamstring Curl
— superset with —
Medicine-Ball Russian Twist
3

3
12-15

10 (each side)
Medicine-Ball Slam 1 max reps

Do: Perform medicine-ball slams on solid ground like concrete, grass or heavy-duty gym flooring. 

Don’t: Go too fast on the exercises in the supersets. Hamstring curls and Russian twists in particular should be done slow and under control to keep tension on the target muscles. 

Intensity Tip: If you’re in good shape and are feeling up to it, do four sets instead of three on the supersetted exercises. 

Medicine-Ball Slam

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Stand holding a medicine ball with your feet shoulder-width apart and open floor space in front of you. Lift the ball up overhead, then throw it straight down to the floor (in front of your feet) as explosively as possible. Catch the ball on the way down, settle yourself and repeat for reps. Slams are best performed with a non-bouncy ball that won’t come off the ground too fast (and into your face) on the way back up. 

Medicine-Ball Sumo Squat With Pulse 

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Holding a medicine ball at arm’s length down in front of you, set up in sumo-squat position with your legs wide and toes slightly pointed outward. At the bottom of each squat, perform three short “pulses” (a quarter of the way up, then back down) before pushing through your heels back up to the standing position. 

Medicine-Ball Biceps Curl to Front Raise 

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Stand holding the sides of a medicine ball with both hands, arms extended toward the floor and ball in front of your thighs. Keeping your upper arms stationery and your elbows in tight to your sides, curl the ball up and slowly lower it back down. Then perform a front raise, lifting the ball straight up in front of you with your elbows extended until your arms are parallel with the floor. Lower the ball back to the start position. One curl and one front raise equals one rep. 

Medicine-Ball Hamstring Curl 

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Lie faceup on the floor with your feet on top of a medicine ball and your knees bent. Contract your glutes to extend your hips into a bridge position (straight line from your shoulders to your knees). Holding this hip-elevated position, slowly extend your knees to roll the ball forward; at full knee extension, only the backs of your heels should be on the ball. Contract your hamstrings to bend your knees in a “leg curl” motion and bring the ball back underneath your feet. 

Medicine-Ball Russian Twist

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Sit on the floor holding a medicine ball in front of your stomach. Lean back to assume a position in which your feet are off the floor (knees bent), your torso is at roughly 45 degrees and you’re more or less “balancing” on your glutes. Maintaining this position, rotate your torso to one side to lower the ball to the floor, then return to the middle. Repeat to the other side, then back to the middle. That’s one rep. Go back and forth in rhythm until all reps are complete.

The Oxygen Mix-and-Match Workout series — designed by Shayla Rog, CPT, transformation coach and owner of Operation: Badass — is designed to be used exactly how it sounds: “Mix” any or all of these workouts into your schedule however you want, “matching” them to whatever equipment you have at home (dumbbells and a bench, resistance bands, medicine ball, bodyweight only, etc.). 

Because all mix-and-match workouts hit more or less the whole body (upper and lower), you can cherry-pick these routines without having to worry about favoring any particular muscle group and causing imbalances. Beginners can do two or three mix-and-match workouts per week; advanced individuals can do up to four or five weekly. Take at least one rest day after every one to two sessions for proper recovery.

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