Bodyweight exercises are a great way to build core strength, but adding a weight like a medicine ball into the mix can upgrade your abs workouts by making them more challenging and effective.
Holding a medicine ball not only means your core muscles face more resistance, it can also encourage good form. For example, tapping the floor with the ball at the top and bottom of each sit-up prevents you stopping short of a full range of motion.
This three-move core workout from certified personal trainer QiQi Hill uses a selection of medicine ball movements to help you develop midsection strength. You can do the movements without a ball, or using a similar unweighted item (like a soccer ball or pillow) if you don’t have one, but adding it in will increase the difficulty of the workout.
Watch as Hill demonstrates each exercise in the Instagram reel below.
Watch QiQi Hill's three-move core workout
A photo posted by on
To try this workout, complete two rounds of each exercise for the number of repetitions listed in Hill's video, rest for 30-60 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. You can also add more rounds if you want to push yourself and make the workout longer.
Each round challenges you to complete a large number of repetitions (10-20), so use a fairly light medicine ball to allow you to perform all movements with perfect form throughout.
You'll find that, even with a weight that feels light at first, your muscles will soon start to tire, so you'll be thankful you picked a conservative weight by the last repetition of each round.
Don’t forget to squeeze your abs during each movement to ensure you’re making the most of a principle called mind-muscle connection. This is important as, by focusing on the body part you're targeting, you can increase muscle activity in this area (as shown in this study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology).
This workout will also help you work on your balance. If you are struggling to balance during the V-holds and alternating bicycle movements, try them without the medicine ball and place your hands on the ground for added stability.
This workout works well as a finisher to a strength training session. Try putting it at the end of this dumbbell arms workout, or this six-move muscle-builder, for a longer, more comprehensive session.
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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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