Medicine balls have been around for thousands years of years, with their earliest use documented amongst ancient Greeks, Romans and Persians. Long before CrossFit swept the fitness world, gladiators and wrestlers were using them to improve strength and mobility, and prepare for combat. Hippocrates (the ancient Greek physician) is said to have recommended his patients use a medicine ball to help regain mobility and promote general health.
Despite their storied history, medicine balls remain an under-utilized piece of equipment. When used properly, they’re an indispensable tool for gyms and home exercise spaces, and they should be a training staple for anyone serious about CrossFit (and cross-training in general). Whether you want to compete in CrossFit competitions or just train for the benefits, a good quality, safe and durable medicine ball will help you build muscle, strength, power, stamina, flexibility, speed, balance, agility, and coordination.
Medicine Balls and CrossFit
So, what should you be looking for in a medicine ball for CrossFit? Is this different from a med ball that you use for spicing up your workouts? Typical CrossFit training and competition focuses more on wall ball exercises and other explosive movements than low velocity exercises like twists or medicine ball push ups. For that reason, some balls are better than others:
- Leather or vinyl shells: This material is much softer than than the plastic or rubber variations, which will save you some pain (just a bit) in the event that you miss a catch while doing wall balls and it slams into your face or chest. Leather balls are less common these days with vinyl or PVC being the more economical shell materials.
- Double-stitched seems: Your medicine ball is going to need a bit of strength in the shell, as it will likely take some impact during training. It’ll hit the wall and floor, even though you won’t be slamming it. Double-stitched seems will help it withstand the punishment you’re inevitably going to inflict on it.
- A well-balanced interior: This will ensure that it moves predictably through the air when you throw it, especially with wall balls. Poorly balanced balls can do strange things in the air, and end up making a mess of your face.
- Low-medium bounce balls: Generally filled with sand, dust or gel, or some composite mix, these med balls only have a small amount of bounce when thrown against a wall, or dropped on the ground. High bouncing medicine balls are often filled with a harder material, like rubber and, when doing wall balls, can give you a rude shock if you don’t catch them properly. They’re better for group or partner exercises like bounce passes.
Most of the best medicine balls for CrossFit training and competition will usually come with a warning that they are not for slamming. If this is what you want to do, then get yourself a slam ball
Which are the 5 Best Medicine Balls for CrossFit?
First things first: the Dynamax medicine balls are among the most expensive med balls on the market. But, they’re worth it. They’re handmade in Austin, Texas and are unmatched in their quality and durability.
The soft vinyl shell is great quality and allows for excellent grip when doing wall balls, especially once you start sweating. The seems have a high quality double-stitching, which means that the shell won’t come apart, and the dust interior won’t leak. The interior is also very well-balanced and has a nice and predictable flight. These balls should take whatever use and abuse you can throw at them (they’re NOT for ball slams though; they will damage quickly if you slam them).
You can get the classic grey and black you see being used at many CrossFit competitions, or change it up with switch it up with a huge range of colors from orange to green camo (custom colors take a bit longer to ship as they are made to order). With a standard 14″ diameter, they have a weight range of 4lbs to 30lbs.
Super-tough with a great feel to them, the Dynamax Medicine balls will take a pounding over a long time without needing to being replaced, a fact that’s supported by their 2 year warranty. A must have for any serious CrossFitter.
Fringe Sport’s OneFit Wonder V3 Medicine Balls rival the Dynamax in terms of quality of construction and durability (they’re made in China, however, not USA). They have a camo-colored PVC shell with double-stitched seams. Unlike many other CrossFit appropriate medicine balls, the OFW V3s are warrantied against slamming, so if you’re determined to do ball slams along side other exercises, then Fringe Sport will give you 1 year of coverage.
When you check these out at Fringe, you’ll likely notice that there is a OneFit Wonder V4 med ball. We’ve found that the V4s are not up to the standard of quality as the V3s, as there’s a fair chance that the interior of the V4 will be off-center. There’s no such danger with the V3s, which are almost always perfectly balanced.
One of the drawbacks of the OneFit Wonder V3 is that you have no option other than camo color scheme, which is not everyone’s alley. That said, it’s a fairly minor complaint, and realistically, if you’re worried about the color of your med ball, then you’re probably not doing it right (CrossFitting, that is).
With a weight range of 6lbs to 30lbs, these are overall a great option for whichever med ball exercises you’re looking to do. The price is absolutely on point, and with Fringe Sport offering free shipping on all of their products, the OneFit Wonder V3 Medicine Balls are possibly the best value med balls on the market at the moment.
Check out Fringe’s 3 Medball exercises to spice up your WOD
Battle tested in the CrossFit games, Rogue Fitness’ Medicine Balls won’t disappoint. They’re hand-constructed at Rogue’s warehouse in Columbus, Ohio, making them one of two major brands of medicine ball made in the US (the other being Dynamax). As with all other Rogue equipment, they’re very high quality and should withstand whatever you can put them through, with the exception of slamming (they have a 2 year warranty, but it does not cover them from damage caused by overhead ball slams).
The vinyl shell is remarkably soft to the touch, compared to other vinyl / PVC med balls, which gives them a great feel and makes them hurt less when you miss a catch. This quality remains after months of heavy use too. The vinyl shell also has double-stitched seams, with the heavier variations (14lbs – 30lbs) getting an extra top stitch, making them especially durable. Finally, the interior is a real standout of these medicine balls. They’re really well centered, meaning they behave much more consistently and predictably than other balls. Plus the interior is firm enough that although the medball is nice and soft, it’ll still maintain it’s shape over the months and years.
You do pay for the extra quality though. These med balls tend to be as expensive or slightly more than competitors, and when you take into account the shipping from Rogue, you’ll end up paying more for these balls than most alternatives. In our opinion, however, the extra cost is well worth it.
These medicine balls have the advantage of being considerably less expensive than the alternatives on this list (particularly when you take shipping into account), while still being good quality. They have a synthetic leather shell, which gives them a nice, soft feel, but seems to reduce their grip. These Rep Fitness med balls tend to feel a little slick in the hands compared to the others, which reduces the level of control you have over them, especially when doing wall balls, and is the main reason they’re not further up the list.
Ultimately, the Rep Fitness medicine balls are well-constructed and should be able to withstand even the most intense workouts, over a long period. The interior is high quality and well-balanced, albeit with a little more bounce than most comparable med balls.
Another good thing about these balls is that the shells are color-coded by weight, and the weight is stitched into the shell (as opposed to being stencilled). This means that if you have more than one ball, you can quickly and easily identify the weight and move easily through different exercises.
You can do worse than these relatively inexpensive, durable and funky-looking med balls – your CrossFit workouts certainly won’t suffer.
Named after champion CrossFit athletes Rich Froning Jr., Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, and Jason Khalipa, these med balls have the same vinyl-coated shell and double paracord stitching construction as the standard Rogue Medballs.
The difference lies in the custom branded designs on the shell, which Rogue co-created with the respective athletes. Each medball is a single standard weight increment used in CrossFit competitions:
- 14″ diameter
- 14lbs weight, standard female competition medicine ball
- Blue shell with large white panels on each side featuring Camille Leblanc-Bazinet’s insignia “CLB”
- 14″ diameter
- 20lbs weight, standard male competition medicine ball
- Red and black shell panels with signature Froning *R
- 14″ diameter
- Blue shell with black panels featuring the Kahlipa “California Bear” emblem
- 25lbs, allows you to up the ante on the competition balls
Ultimately, these Rogue Athlete Series Medballs are the same as the standard Rogue medicine balls, they just look way cooler (and are $5 – $10 more expensive). If you care about the look of your medball, and you insist on quality equipment, then these are a great choice.
If you’re looking for a good quality medicine ball to get the most out of your CrossFit workouts, and/or prepare you for that next CrossFit comp, then any of the above 5 medballs will be a worthy investment. Remember, all but the OneFit Wonder are warrantied against regular use, and not for slamming. Check out our top 7 slam balls for a good medicine ball that’ll withstand repeated overhead slamming over a long period.
5 Great CrossFit Medicine Ball Exercises
While these CrossFit medicine ball exercises will have you wondering if they were created by the devil himself, they’ll definitely help whip your butt into shape and get you ready for that next CrossFit comp.
Medicine Ball Russian Twists
Medicine Ball Jump Squats
Well, there you have it: The best medicine balls for CrossFit and some great medball exercises to supercharge your workouts. Whether you’re looking to kill it at your next CrossFit comp or just up the ante on your training at home, everything you need to get started is right here.
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As always, all the best with your home workouts. Remember: You can make the effort, or you can make excuses, but you can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak).