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Medicine balls can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to medicine balls with similar benefits?
A medicine ball is a weighted ball that is made from relatively soft material and doesn’t bounce that well. This piece of fitness equipment can be used for strength and rehabilitation training. You can use it to modify regular exercises like lunges or to do specific medicine ball exercises.
Among other benefits, you can use medicine balls to strengthen muscles at home or in the gym, you have mobility that other free weights don’t allow, you can slam certain medicine balls on the ground, medicine balls are a compact piece of fitness equipment, etc.
Whether you don’t enjoy using medicine balls, you want a more versatile alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these medicine ball alternatives can help you train similar areas of your health.
Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like while using any exercise equipment, there is always some risk of injury. Make sure you use these equipment options in a safe way and if needed, get guidance from an expert.
1. Wall ball
When seeing a wall ball for the first time many people assume it is just a weird-looking medicine ball. However, they are two different pieces of fitness equipment with slightly different uses. A wall ball is generally slightly bigger, has a softer outside, and bounces better than medicine balls.
This makes wall balls basically a medicine ball alternative that is more comfortable for throwing exercises like a toss-up, partner chest throws, or the wall ball exercise.
A downside of wall balls is that they tend to require a slightly higher investment than medicine balls. Medicine balls are also more common in most gyms. And wall balls are not always suited for ground slam exercises.
All in all, wall balls look and are very similar to medicine balls.
There are workout sandbags that can be used as a fitness equipment alternative to medicine balls. Certain types can be used for throwing but sandbags are mainly for creating resistance in a wide variety of exercises.
You can for example use sandbags in thrusters, goblet squats, jump squats, the clean exercise, shoulder presses, and many others.
A potential benefit of sandbags is that you can find heavier weights compared to medicine balls. This can be helpful if you are a strong individual more experienced with resistance training.
Sandbags can also be put on your shoulders in a stable and comfortable way. This can be especially helpful for leg exercises where you need a lot of weight to make the exercise a challenge.
A downside is that sandbags do not offer the exact same mobility, bounciness, and compactness as medicine balls. This means you can likely not do exactly the same workout as you would do with medicine balls.
A dumbbell is a type of fitness equipment that is basically a handle with a weight on each side. You will not be able to do all of the same medicine ball exercises with this alternative but you can definitely use a dumbbell instead of a medicine ball to benefit your training in very similar ways.
Dumbbells are even better than medicine balls when it comes to resistance training in many cases. They can be used in one-handed exercises, exercise where you want heavy resistance, exercises where you need to twist and turn your wrists a lot, etc.
You can use dumbbells in “throwing” exercises without actually letting go of the dumbbell. You can also likely train the same muscles as in medicine ball exercises, potentially even more effectively since you have heavier weights available.
Another benefit of dumbbells includes that they last a very long time without much reduction in value. Even after using them many times, dumbbells will have a very similar sturdiness and strength.
A potential disadvantage is that dumbbells often require a slightly bigger investment compared to medicine balls.
4. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. They are even more versatile than medicine balls.
This is because you can loop resistance bands around your legs and because you are not limited to using the usual direction of gravity for resistance.
Some of the other benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, go up to high resistance, and are very portable.
One potential downside is that the way bands offer resistance is not exactly the same as everyday life objects. The farther you stretch them out the bigger the resistance becomes. With medicine balls, it’s more of the opposite since you build momentum with the ball as you move.
Resistance bands are also not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
Certain exercises will also benefit from anchoring your resistance bands somewhere. Sometimes you can attach them to objects that are already around the house. Even so, it is likely safer to get an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
A kettlebell is a metal ball with a handle on top, usually made of cast iron or cast steel. There are alternatives that are even more different but you can definitely not use kettlebells the exact same way as medicine balls.
That being said, you can likely train the same muscles to the same extent or even better. For example in medicine ball exercise alternatives like a thruster, goblet squat, or shoulder press. You can also do “throwing” exercises without letting go of the kettlebell.
Besides that, other benefits of kettlebells include that they also last a very long time without much reduction in value. Even after using them many times, kettlebells will have a very similar sturdiness and strength. You can also find kettlebells at heavier weights, use them in one-handed exercises, etc.
Compared to medicine balls, a potential disadvantage is that kettlebells often require a slightly bigger investment.
6. Weight plate
Weight plates are basically what they sound like, plates that are made of heavy material to add resistance to your workouts. They are most often used on a barbell but you can also hold them, especially the ones with handles, as a medicine ball alternative.
Similar to the other free weights on this list you can use weight plates in throwing exercises if you don’t actually let go of the weight plate. Weight plates can be even more useful than medicine balls in cases where you need a type of weight you can hold with one hand.
Another benefit is that weight plates last a very long time. You may even have this medicine ball alternative already because you have a barbell setup.
If you don’t have a weight plate available yet, a potential downside is that they require a slightly bigger investment.
7. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball. You can use this piece of equipment in certain throwing exercises but you don’t want to be too rough with it. Exercise balls are generally not made to slam on the ground.
Another downside is that exercise balls are not that heavy. This means using them in exercises like a toss-up or chest pass will likely result in less muscle growth and cardiovascular training compared to using a heavy medicine ball.
One benefit exercise balls do have over medicine balls is that they can be used for a wide variety of balance and flexibility exercises. Exercise balls are also relatively inexpensive.