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The Best Medicine Balls to Round Out Your Dynamic Fitness Routine

No matter your skill level, these effective training tools can be a great addition to your workout programming — if you know which one to choose.

three medicine balls
Courtesy

Want to add some explosive exercises to your workout regimen that can target your strength and stamina? Getting tired of the normal barbell and weight plate modalities? Looking for an all-inclusive way to work your movement mechanics and develop some power?

If you've ever pondered over the above questions, then it might be time to consider adding a medicine ball to your daily fitness regimen. These convenient training tools can be used by everyone from the novice to the veteran, and house a plethora of muscle-building, calorie-burning qualities in their spherical shape. There are plenty of diverse exercises you can perform with medicine balls, and thus, there are a multitude of medicine ball types to choose from.

What to Consider when Choosing a Medicine Ball

Similar to how there's a clear difference between sporting goods balls — you wouldn't play baseball with a soccer ball — there are a number of medicine balls available to give you the best training experience possible. While you can perform plenty of exercises with one ball, here are a few factors to consider to ensure your equipment is up to your regimen's demands.

Weight

Naturally, one of the first items to think of when choosing a medicine ball is the weight you plan to use. If you're looking to train with medicine balls for strength and power, a heavier ball can provide enough resistance to suit your workouts. A lighter ball can also be effective in cardio or explosive workouts, allowing you to complete the movement with less strain. Think about your goals and abilities, then choose the weight you think will pose enough of a challenge without compromising your form.

Fill

Looking inward, medicine balls are typically filled with three materials, all designed to influence the performance.

Sand-filled medicine balls can provide a dense construction, allowing for heavier components in a slimmed-down profile. This style can be great for slams and carries, as well as other dynamic lifts.

Air-filled balls are naturally lighter than their sandy constituents, but they can still prove to be effective training tools. Because of the decreased resistance, air-filled medicine balls can be great for explosive movements like overhead throws.

Finally, soft medicine balls can typically feature a foam or synthetic interior, allowing for a wide variety of modalities including wall balls, carries, overhead tosses and others. Soft medicine balls are typically larger that sand-filled medicine balls, because they need more space to provide the same mass.

Exterior

To best control your medicine ball through any movement or exercise, you want an exterior with a little bit of grit. Additionally, your medicine ball's exterior should be durable enough to withstand multiple training sessions, especially if you're partaking in more aggressive modalities like slams. Most medicine balls are constructed from either rubber, leather or PVC.

Rubber medicine balls can be some of the most durable options out there, thanks to the resiliency of the material. Rubber balls can also be denser, which is why some of the heaviest medicine balls feature this construction. If you're hard on your equipment — or really want to practice slam workouts — this is the pick for you.

Leather medicine balls are another popular choice, providing enough grip and security while still remaining comfortable on the forearms and hands. Whether synthetic or natural, leather medicine balls can be a great option for general training purposes.

PVC balls are similar to leather, albeit at a lower price point. While these medicine balls can also be exceptional for general fitness needs, they aren't as durable to wear and tear. If you aren't putting a ton of strain on your gear or use medicine balls more in a free-weight fashion, these can still be a worthwhile option for your home gym.

How We Tested

collage of medicine balls
Ben Emminger

Over the course of a few weeks, we integrated medicine ball training into our normal routine, getting hands-on with a number of picks. To get the full scope of each ball's abilities, we looked closely at the overall construction, highlighting how each option felt in a carry position as well as its effectiveness in dynamic movements. Bounce and shape retention were also considered, when appropriate, as well as how much space each medicine ball took up in our training corner.

Titan Fitness Soft Leather Medicine Wall Ball

BEST OVERALL MEDICINE BALL
Titan Fitness Soft Leather Medicine Wall Ball
titan.fitness
$44.99

  • Natural leather provides a classic yet resilient aesthetic
  • 14-inch diameter is great for carries and throwing movements

  • Limited weight range available
  • Not ideal for slam exercises

With a leather construction and ergonomic 14-inch diameter, this soft medicine ball from Titan Fitness is a great tool for working multiple muscle groups in one fell swoop. The durable exterior sits comfortably on the forearms, while the tight, thick double stitching ensures a resilient build. The Titan Fitness Soft Medicine Ball also features two loops sewn in for easier grip and convenient storage capabilities. While we would appreciate a wider weight range — you have five options from 6–30 pounds — this can be a great fitness accessory at a very reasonable price point.

*Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

  • Material: PU Leather
  • Diameter: 14 inches
  • Weight Range: 6–30 pounds

    TRX XD Kevlar Medicine Ball

    BEST UPGRADE MEDICINE BALL
    TRX XD Kevlar Medicine Ball
    trxtraining.com
    $144.95

    • Durable DuPont Kevlar provides exceptional grip
    • Embroidered weight identification will not fade or peel

    • Premium pricing, more than double our top pick
    • Can become misshapen over extended use

    If you want an intense medicine ball to match your intense training, look no further than the XD Kevlar lineup from TRX. Built with durable DuPont Kevlar, this training tool can take a proverbial beating and still come back for more. We found no issues gripping the medicine ball, even when the sweat began to pour, and appreciated the convenient 14-inch diameter. We do recommend, though, that you limit bouncing this ball, as the shape can become warped over time. At such a premium price, you’ll kind of want to baby this pick, even though the exterior demands a thrashing.

    *Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

    • Material: DuPont Kevlar
    • Diameter: 14 inches
    • Weight Range: 4–50 pounds

      RAGE Fitness Slam Ball

      BEST BUDGET MEDICINE BALL
      RAGE Fitness Slam Ball
      amazon.com
      $24.71

      • No-bounce design is great for slams
      • Air valve releases pressure to defend against bursting

      • Exterior can be come slippery
      • May lose shape over continued slams

      Medicine balls don’t need to break the bank, and slam balls in particular can be a great cost-effective option for their durable construction in a denser, smaller profile. This slam ball from RAGE Fitness offers plenty of calorie-burning potential in its rubber silhouette. An added air valve allows for the pressure to dissipate after every toss, and you can even customize the bounce rate with a handy air pump. The exterior is textured for some added grip security, too. If you’re on a budget and still want to reap the benefits of medicine ball training, this is a great entry-level pick.

      *Price shown is for a 15-pound medicine ball

      • Material: Rubber
      • Diameter: 9 inches
      • Weight Range: 10–40 pounds

        Living.Fit Slam Ball

        BEST SLAM BALL
        Living Fit Slam Ball
        living.fit
        $49.99

        • Textured rubber exterior for premium grip
        • Wide weight range that caters to any fitness need

        • Smaller diameter is less ergonomic for carries
        • Some might not like the moving sand fill

        Living.Fit does an exceptional job at making workout equipment for the home gym space, and the brand’s slam ball is no exception. We really liked how easy it was to grip the triangular exterior, and the rubber silhouette ensures this fitness tool is ready for the long haul. The sand fill does float within, which may dissuade some users, but we felt the medicine ball maintained a relatively balanced feel, regardless. And thanks to a wide weight range, you can find the perfect weight to really drive home those slam exercises for explosiveness and power.

        *Price shown is for a 15-pound medicine ball

        • Material: Rubber
        • Diameter: 9–13 inches
        • Weight Range: 5–100 pounds

          Tone Fitness Soft Weighted Toning Ball

          BEST TONING MEDICINE BALL
          Tone Fitness Soft Weighted Toning Ball
          amazon.com
          $20.99
          $16.74 (20% off)

          • Soft synthetic exterior is easy to grip and control
          • Smaller diameter promotes maneuverability and one-handed modalities

          • Not ideal for general medicine ball workouts
          • Limited weight range

          Medicine balls don’t have to be these dense, gargantuan spheres for an effective training experience. Case in point, toning balls are a smaller, handheld option that typically weigh less than their larger counterparts. This pick from Tone Fitness boasts a soft synthetic exterior that’s easy to grip and control with one hand — although it takes some getting used to with the larger 10-pound model. This medicine ball can be a good pick for senior athletes, or those wanting to specifically target balance or core strength. Just don’t expect to get a full routine of wall balls, slams and other dynamic exercises; the size and construction limits these balls to less intense activity.

          *Price shown is for a 10-pound medicine ball

          • Material: Soft synthetic
          • Diameter: 6–7 inches
          • Weight Range: 6–10 pounds

            Zelus Medicine Ball with Dual Grip

            BEST MEDICINE BALL WITH HANDLES
            Zelus Medicine Ball with Dual Grip
            amazon.com
            $49.99

            • Ergonomic handles for optimal security during exercises
            • Odorless rubber for a nonintrusive training experience

            • Cannot be slammed or thrown without risk of damage
            • Only available in two weights

            Be certain in your grip with this handled medicine ball from Zelus. Handled medicine balls can be a great option for lifts and carries, and this pick has been one of our favorites over the years. The durable rubber exterior is tacky enough yet skin-friendly, and the hermetic valve helps this option keep its shape set after set. This was a nice touch, especially when utilizing the handles for platform push-ups and kettlebell-inspired arm swings. Unfortunately, though, you’re locked into just two available weights, which can limit your training opportunities.

            *Price shown is for a 10-pound medicine ball

            • Material: Rubber
            • Diameter: 10 inches
            • Weight Range: 10–20 pounds

                  SPRI Rubber Medicine Ball

                  BEST BOUNCING MEDICINE BALL
                  SPRI Medicine Exercise Ball
                  walmart.com
                  $31.67

                  • Dimpled exterior for improved grip, similar to a basketball
                  • Best bounce rate, ideal for wall tosses and other movements

                  • Only available in three weights
                  • Not ideal for slam exercises

                  For those looking to implement wall tosses primarily in their workouts, you should look for a medicine ball that can rebound easily for an easier training experience. The SPRI rubber medicine ball offers plenty of bounce and, from our opinion, should last a number of training seasons. The high-quality rubber construction allows for plenty of abuse, while the dimpled texture gives it that basketball-like aesthetic. Despite its positive performance when it comes to bounce, we’d recommend avoiding slam exercises with this medicine ball. Slamming this pick could result in overzealous wear and tear, and because of the springy rebound, you could wind up getting a taste of the exterior — which we can say from experience is by no means pleasant.

                  *Price shown is for a 12-pound medicine ball

                  • Material: Rubber
                  • Diameter: 9 inches
                  • Weight Range: 8–12 pounds

                    Synergee Soft Medicine Ball

                    BEST PVC MEDICINE BALL
                    Synergee Soft Medicine Ball
                    amazon.com
                    $82.95
                    $58.07 (30% off)

                    • 14-inch diameter throughout the entire weight range
                    • Double stitching promotes extended use

                    • Less durable than leather or rubber options
                    • Max weight is 20 pounds

                    PVC is typically a cheaper alternative to leather when it comes to medicine balls — our top pick from Titan Fitness is one of the lone exceptions. With that said, though, if you are looking for a PVC ball, this option from Synergee takes the cake. With eight weights to choose from for a variety of training opportunities, the tough PVC medicine ball is built to withstand plenty of hard work. Double-stitched seams and easy-to-read labeling make this an effective pick if you want the ergonomic diameter of a traditional medicine ball without the (normally) higher cost.

                    *Price shown is for a 14-pound medicine ball

                    • Material: PVC
                    • Diameter: 14 inches
                    • Weight Range: 6–20 pounds
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