Upper body workouts with a medicine ball can be tricky, but they aren’t impossible. The shoulder muscles in particular can be quite challenging to target.
Because of the way they are made, med balls lend themselves to 2 different types of workouts – plyometric and conditioning.
Plyometrics should be low volume, explosive movements, such as throws. The conditioning movements should be higher volume and used to build strength endurance.
The trick is to perform exercises that make a light (5-15 lb.) medicine ball feel much heavier than it actually is. You can do this by putting your shoulders in challenging positions. Below you will find 5 of the best medicine ball shoulder exercises.
Most shoulder workout routines are going to include a press of some kind. While you could do a plain old shoulder press, adding a squat will certainly makes things more challenging. This can be a very good exercise to finish a workout with to build endurance.
This is a pretty simple exercise to do. It consists of squatting, standing up, and then pressing the medicine ball over head. It’s all right there in the name. Obviously, this exercise doesn’t only work the shoulders. It is a great full-body conditioning exercise that will hit your shoulders.
The video below demonstrates what this exercise looks like. A more advanced move would include adding a throw at the end. This would work particularly well if you had a tall wall in front of you that you could throw into.
Simple, but effective. Raises are a very common shoulder exercise and highly versatile. While they are commonly done with dumbbells, you can also use a med ball. To be effective, you will need to either use two hands on the ball or have one that is small enough to grip with one hand.
Raises can be done in many different ways. You can do traditional forward raises or lateral raises if you are able to grip with one hand. You can also do bent over raises to target the rear delt muscles.
The video below shows different ways you can do shoulder raises with the two hand grip. You aren’t limited to just going horizontal or vertical with the ball. You can try out lots of different angles. This will also work your core.
Med balls are obviously so popular largely because of their ability to be used in plyometric movements. You can obviously just do a straight overhead toss. However, you can also do chest passes, overhead backwards tosses, and many more variations.
Med ball throws are a great exercise to do with a partner. If you don’t have a partner handy, a tall wall can fill in if it is made properly. The video below demonstrates a squat into an overhead toss starting at the 1:15 mark. Obviously, you would need a durable wall and to make sure the landing area is clear before attempting these.
You don’t have to wait until you are injured to work on shoulder mobility and flexibility. Shoulder flexibility work is a good idea to do while recovering between sets on leg day.
The video below shows rehab exercises in the forming of drawing the alphabet with a small med ball. While it doesn’t look very challenging, even a light med ball extended out in front of you can feel heavy quickly. Be sure to work a variety of different angles and directions.
This is another movement that can be great for conditioning. Picking up a heavy medicine ball and dropping it over your shoulder can be exhausting quickly. To do this exercise, you pick up the ball from the ground in front of you, and then drop it over your shoulder to the ground beside you.
Make sure to rotate shoulders so they get worked evenly. This is more of a full body exercise, but your shoulders will be feeling it after awhile. This is another movement that can be tacked on the end of a workout for some conditioning work.
While medicine ball shoulder exercises might not get you super strong in a short time, they can be useful. The key is to be creative and not overuse them. They can be flexible tools that can be used to develop power or conditioning when used properly.