Fun bootcamp exercises are a great way to keep your clients engaged and excited about your sessions.
I recommend keeping an exercise list and adding to it over time. This will help you to design better workouts, and keep things interesting.
Over the years I have documented over 350 fun bootcamp exercises, and I add to it whenever I see one I like. You can find this collection inside the Workout Design Club, a workout builder for bootcamp trainers.
Top tip: Create an exercise library (written or video). Having a ton of fun bootcamp exercises to build your workouts around is one of the best ways to..
- Build result focused workouts
- Add variety to your programme
- keep your clients interested and engaged
Let's start with one of my favourite bootcamp exercises of all time, the medicine ball slam. I prefer to use a slam ball for this exercise because it stops dead instead of roll away.
Medicine balls can be a lot of fun, and a great addition to a boot camp, but they can also be difficult to transport and store, and some trainers see them as being more trouble than they are worth. In this article, we will be answering the question “should I use medicine balls in my boot camp?”.
Medicine balls are worth the investment, provided you have somewhere to keep them between classes. They can be used for a number of plyometric exercises, and as a form of resistance training. Many medicine ball partner drills require teamwork, which is a great way to add team work.
In this article we are going to look at the pros and cons of incorporating medicine balls into your bootcamp. We will look at some of the best medicine ball exercises, and how to pick the right medicine balls for your bootcamp. Then we'll dive into to some of my favourite fun bootcamp exercises.
Fun Bootcamp Exercises Using A Slam Ball Or Medicine Ball
Every bootcamp business is different, because of this it is difficult to give specific advice regarding what you should and should not do. There is a world of difference between a brand new bootcamp with 5 members, and a bootcamp that has been running for 10 years with 40 members per session.
Whether or not your bootcamp will benefit from medicine balls depends on how many members you have, what sort of income you have from it, and where it is located. Unlike kettlebells or tyres medicine balls can be easily transported and stored.
This means that medicine balls can be used in both indoor and outdoor bootcamps, provided you can easily move them from your car to the location in question.
Don’t Use Medicine Balls in Your Boot Camp if..
- Your Budget is Tiny – When starting out, you tend not to have much of a budget. If you are in this situation, then keeping costs down may be a better decision. Investing your money on quality marketing, or in education (Workout Design Club) is a much better way to improve your boot camp than purchasing equipment.
- You Don’t Have the Right Balls – There are different types of medicine balls, and each have their uses. Some are good for slamming, some are not! Make sure that you have the right medicine balls for a boot camp (more on this later).
- Your Members are New – Fun bootcamp exercises work best when the exercises don’t require much technical knowledge. Meaning that you can demonstrate them quickly and the class knows exactly what to do. Many medicine ball exercises require some prior knowledge and some coordination. If your class members are new to exercising, medicine ball exercises should be introduced slowly one at a time.
Do Use Medicine Balls in Your Boot Camp if..
- Your Members Want to Build Strength & Power – One of the benefits of medicine balls is that they are great for increasing your power. Medicine ball slams and throws really help you work your muscles explosively. They are a great way to introduce bootcamp members to this form of training.
- You Want to Upgrade Your Sessions – As we mentioned earlier, it is pointless to start purchasing fitness equipment when you (and your members) haven’t mastered all that bodyweight exercises can offer. But if you have been coaching for a while, strategically adding equipment such as medicine balls into your programming can really upgrade each session. You have a whole heap of fun bootcamp exercises to shake up your sessions, and each session will burn even more calories.
- You Want to Train Athletes – The word athlete makes everyone think about professional sports men and women. However, in this scenario we are talking more about amateur athletes. Medicine balls are amazing for conditioning exercises, and they can help improve power. This makes them amazing for any sport that requires throwing, pushing, jumping, or any other dynamic movements. A bootcamp that utilises medicine balls will really appeal to amateur sports performers. While still appealing to non-athletes.
- You Want to Encourage Teamwork – There are many medicine ball exercises that can be performed in groups of 2-10 (or more). From simple drills such as throwing the ball to each other to shuttle runs while holding a medicine ball over head. You can have a lot of fun with your members using them.
Are Medicine Balls Worth It?
Compared to a lot of fitness equipment, you can get a good quality medicine ball for a very reasonable price. Of course, the more people you coach in your bootcamp, the more medicine balls you will need. You don't necessarily need one per person because you can do partner work, and incorporate them into circuits with other fun bootcamp exercises.
If you decide to purchase enough medicine balls for your boot camp, then you can rest assured that they are absolutely worth the cost. However, it is entirely possible to run a successful boot camp without any equipment.
Over at the Workout Design Club, our fun group fitness ideas are template based, so you can add in your own fun bootcamp exercises, be that bodyweight exercises, equipment based or a combination of both.
Sign Up For 10 Fun Bootcamp Ideas
Can Medicine Balls Be Slammed?
So far in this article, we’ve mentioned the medicine ball slam exercise a few times, but the truth is that the majority of medicine balls should not be slammed. There are two reasons for this:
- Some of the cheaper medicine balls can fall apart
- Many medicine balls BOUNCE
Instead of a medicine ball, you want to purchase a Slam Ball. These are similar and can be used for a majority of medicine ball exercises. But instead of being bouncy, they are designed to land on the floor and stay there!
Leather medicine balls are often fine for slamming and are closer to slam balls than they are close to regular medicine balls.
That’s not to say that the bouncier form of medicine ball has no benefits though. For throwing exercises a bouncy medicine ball is usually preferable as they are easier to hold.
You can also find “Wall Balls” which are a combination of regular medicine balls (bouncy) and slam balls. They are used for throwing against walls. They can also be used for throwing up walls. They can theoretically be used for medicine ball slams, but due to the extra bounce you may want to ensure that you are able to move your head out of the way. Just in case!
What Are Medicine Balls Filled With?
There are several different types of medicine ball, and they are made from different materials. We have already mentioned the leather ones, but there are also rubber, plastic, and softer materials such as nylon.
The different medicine balls each have different fillings. The leather balls are often filled with sand, while rubber medicine balls can be filled with air (making them bouncy and unsuitable for slams). There are other synthetic fillings for medicine balls, including gels.
What Size Medicine Ball Should You Start With?
There are two ways of measuring a medicine ball, there is circumference and weight. Depending on the make, you may find that a larger sized ball actually weighs less than a denser ball.
On the whole, the lighter the ball, the easier it is to use. But larger balls such as leather medicine balls may be more forgiving even if they weigh a bit more.
As your bootcamp is going to be catering to many different people with different fitness capabilities, you will probably want a selection.
Some small rubber medicine balls that are light in weight would be great for throwing exercises, while a larger leather medicine ball would be great for slams. If you have 20 people in your bootcamp, then a good selection of medicine balls could look something like this:
- 5 small and light medicine balls (rubber)
- 5 medium sized medicine balls (rubber)
- 5 small leather medicine balls
- 5 large leather medicine balls
If your budget does not fit that, then just split the group into pairs and you’ll only need 10 medicine balls instead of 20. Like I said before, you can mix them in with other fun bootcamp exercises.
Do Medicine Balls Help You Lose Weight And Tone Up?
Weight loss is created by a combination of exercise and diet. In a sense, any form of exercise and any form of diet can lead to weight loss. But some exercises are better than others, in the same way that some diets are better than others.
Using a medicine ball is a great way to lose weight. It can be used for high intensity interval training (HIIT), resistance training, plyometrics, and regular cardio. So of course it can help you to lose weight. Medicine balls may not be as effective at raising your metabolism as kettlebells, but they are easier to teach, more accessible, and better value for money.
Best Medicine Ball Exercises For Group Fitness And 1-1 Personal Training
There are hundreds of medicine ball exercises out there, and many variations of each exercise. Narrowing them down to just a few was tough. But here are six fun bootcamp exercises using a medicine ball
Exercise #1 Medicine Ball Goblet Squats
The medicine ball goblet squat is a remarkably simple exercise, but one that is easily applicable in your boot camp. If you have some members who find regular squatting with the rest of the boot camp too easy, then just chuck them a medicine ball to hold for some extra resistance.
Medicine ball goblet squats can also be used to improve squatting technique as they force you to squat with your heels on the ground and chest pushed out. This stops people from leaning too far forward or being too upright while squatting.
To perform a goblet squat, stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and toes facing outwards. Hold a medium sized medicine ball in both hands at chest height. Push your chest out, pull your shoulders back, and then squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
Keep your heels flat on the ground throughout to ensure you are squatting properly. Pause, and then rise back up to the starting position.
Exercise #2 Medicine Ball Goblet Squat into Throw
There are many variations of the goblet squat, you can do it with a kettlebell, dumbbell, or any form of weight that can be held to your chest. However, only with a medicine ball can you perform this progression … safely!
The medicine ball goblet squat into throw will really help to turn this into a full-body exercise with plyometric elements. You will burn more calories, generate more power, and it can also help improve coordination.
Start off in the squat position outlined in the previous entry. Squat down until your thighs are at least parallel but ideally a little lower. Pause, and then spring back up. As you do so, throw the medicine ball straight up in the air.
Catch the ball, and then continue moving back into the squat position. Squat down until your thighs are past parallel and repeat.
Exercise #3 Medicine Ball Slams
As we’ve mentioned before, this exercise needs to be performed with either a slam ball, or a wall ball. Basically, a medicine ball that won’t bounce back up. Leather medicine balls are particularly good for this.
Stand upright holding a medicine ball in both hands. Raise the ball so that it is above your head and then powerfully slam the ball into the ground. Once it lands pick it up using a straight backed squat technique (don’t overthink this, we just mean no arched backs).
You want to throw it so that the ball is landing just about in front of your feet. Don’t throw it too far forwards.
Exercise #4 Medicine Ball Lunge with Twist
Like the goblet squat and goblet squat with throw, this exercise can be performed with many variations. You want to use a very small and light medicine ball for this.
Stand upright with feet together. Push your chest out and hold a medicine ball at the centre of your torso. Take a big step forward, as you do this raise your back heel off the floor and push the medicine ball forward so that your arms are extended.
Lower your back knee to the floor as you do this. Hold this position and then rotate the medicine ball 45 degrees to the side (same side as your front leg). Return the ball back to the centre and then take a step back.
You should now be back in your starting position. Repeat the movement but this time with the other foot and rotate the medicine ball to the other side.
Exercise #5 Medicine Ball Push Press
This is a great exercise, and very underrated. This is a great shoulder exercise, and is an excellent choice for boot camps, where good shoulder exercises are often hard to find.
Stand upright with a heavy medicine ball held in both hands at shoulder height with your elbows slightly pointed out in front of you.
Feet should be slightly narrower than shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly and then straighten them. As you do so drive the medicine ball upwards. Once it has cleared your face, bring the ball backwards slightly so that when your arms are fully extended, the medicine ball is directly over the centre of your head.
Pause, and then bring the ball back down. Once it is back at shoulder height bend your knees again and restart the exercise.
You can progress this exercise so that you throw the ball up in the air rather than just holding it. But remember, this is NOT a squat. Just a bend of the knees.
Exercise #6 Rolling Push Ups
This exercise is quite difficult, and many boot camp members will probably not be strong enough for it. At least at first! It is basically a more challenging push up.
Start off in the push up position, but instead of having both hands on the floor, have one hand resting on a medium sized medicine ball. The rubber ones are better as you want them to be able to roll between reps.
Perform a push up with one hand on the ball. Once you have finished a rep, roll the medicine ball from one hand to the other. Then perform a second push up, this time with the alternate hand on the medicine ball.
Final Thoughts On Using A Medicine Ball In Your Bootcamp
Of all the pieces of equipment to get for your boot camp, the medicine ball should be top of the list. They are inexpensive (compared to other pieces of fitness equipment). There are hundreds of simple exercises that you can do with them. And they are easily stored and transported between sessions.
The best benefit of medicine balls though is that they enable you to perform a number of upper body exercises. Particularly shoulder exercises.
While bodyweight workouts are great for the lower body, core, and cardiovascular system. It is often challenging to find upper body exercises that are fun and simple to learn. A medicine ball can really help you out here.
Whether it is goblet squats with throws or push presses, medicine balls can help. Of course, kettlebells can also do this, as can tyre workouts. But medicine balls are the best.
You do not need to buy them though. It is definitely possible to run a fantastic bootcamp with just bodyweight exercises. Check out my boot camp workouts to learn more - Workout Design Club.
12 Fun Bootcamp Exercises That Will Spice Up Your Next Session
Here are 11 fun bootcamp exercises that you can plug into your training programme. I came up quite a few of these on my own so hopefully they are new to you. Let's start with the commando crawler.
Commando Crawler: Crawling exercises strengthens the core, glutes, shoulders, core, and more. Crawling exercises develop a foundation of reflexive strength (also known as reflexive stability), which is the original strength we were born to develop. There are many different bootcamp exercises involving crawling that are beneficial in different ways.
Super Speed Freak: Incorporating lateral movements into your fitness training programme is beneficial. Lateral movements develop strength, stability, coordination and can greatly improve knee, hip, and ankle joint stability.
Lateral movements also help reduce the risk of injuries by enhancing balance throughout the entire body. I love bootcamp exercises that incorporate lateral movements like this because it adds variety.
Here's a quick finisher using this fun bootcamp exercise. You're going to complete super speed freaks for a 4-minute tabata. Instead of resting for 10 seconds during each set, you're going to complete 3 burpees between the two markers.
Combat Attack: Boxing is a great way to add variety to your group fitness programme because it's a fun way to blow off steam. You can either use gloves and pads in partners, or shadow box which requires no equipment at all.
Fun bootcamp exercises that incorporate Boxing are great for developing stamina, balance and coordination. If you'd like to incorporate more boxing into your group training programme, here are 7 bootcamp boxing combinations.
Hindi Push Up: One of the more challenging and advanced boot camp exercises. Hindi push ups targets the same muscles as a regular pushup, the chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and the core. However, it also enhances your mobility and flexibility which leads to better posture. This is one to attempt if you can do a regular pushup with perfect form.
Super Squats: One of the best Kettlebell boot camp exercises for building explosive power and strength in the legs. This exercise tones the legs like no other. Try it with a 4-minute tabata and you’ll know what I mean.
Power Lifter: This is one of my favourite compound exercises. The power lifter fuses the burpee with the kettle-bell squat press. The quads, hamstrings and glutes are targeted. The hips and torso muscles are also in action to assist the primary muscles and stabilise the movement.
Get Ups: Each week I spend time coming up with new boot camp exercises. This exercise targets the core and lower body. It's also a great cardio workout if you complete them fast for high reps. Try 50 as fast as you can. You'll know exactly what I mean. I have created lot's of different bootcamp ideas using this exercise.
Get ups are one of my favourite bootcamp exercises, so mush so that I created a fun bootcamp game around it called beat it. Ask your clients to complete a set number of get ups.
- Beginner: 20
- Intermediate: 27
- Advanced: 37
Beginners have to finish before intermediates, and intermediates have to finish before advanced. Players that fail complete a forfeit of your choosing.
Figure of 8: A fantastic agility exercise that increases balance, control and flexibility, allowing the body to maintain good posture and alignment during the movement. Other forms of agility training include shuttle sprints, hurdles, ladder drills etc.
Speed Freak: This is a brilliant cardio conditioning drill that’s a lot harder than it looks. The lateral shuffles work the muscles in your calves, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and glutes. Not only does it increase agility and coordination making you quicker on your feet, but it boost your metabolism, and burns a crazy amount of calories.
Steamers: This awesome exercise increases your speed, agility and explosiveness, and gives you a great cardio workout. This exercise strengthens your thighs, core, calves and glutes, and helps to shape and strengthen your lower body.
Kettle-bell Lat Extension: If you’ve got a towel handy then you’ve got to try the kettle-bell lat extension. It’s one of my favourite boot camp exercises. The quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, lower/upper back, biceps and shoulder muscles back are all targeted. It’s also a great exercise for developing grip strength. The first 10 reps (20k bell) or so are quite easy, then it just kinda of wears you down quickly.
12 Fun Bootcamp Exercises That Will Spice Up Your Next Session
Each week over in the Workout Design Club I design 12 fun workout ideas for outdoor bootcamp trainers. There are also over 350 fun bootcamp exercises to choose from. If you're in need of some fresh bootcamp ideas, check it out. ---> Click here for more info.
This Week You'll Discover..
1. The Second Dimension
In this (full on) high action team workout, players are tasked with completing a series of challenges that will test their will power.
2. Super Combo
It’s chaos on the battle field in this fun circuit training workout. If players can avoid pulling the wrong cards their team will get the advantage.
3. War Time domination
In this fun rep based team challenge, teams attempt to take over the world in 12 rounds of less. To do that they'll need to overcome a barrage of fun bootcamp exercises.
4. Super Hero Circuit
A fun HIIT challenge that fuses HIT with a Tabata twist.
5. Sting Circuit
A fun circuit training workout with a double twist. Players will have to be quick to avoid the instructor’s wrath.
6. The Disgusting Drill
Exactly what It says on the tin. This killer HIT workout contains one of my all time favourite bootcamp exercises.
7. Mortal Combat
The most ingenious team game I have created this year. It sounds easy to win but it’s far from it. There are simple (make or break) obstacles that each player must overcome or be sent back to the beginning.
8. Beat Down 27
Dubbed ‘The Fat Furnace’. This is all body HIT workout that will test your strength, cardio and endurance. To the max.
9. One Man Band
This is the ultimate cardio endurance guessing game. It’s exhausting, but lots of fun.
10. Warrior Select
In this quirky workout, players take turns challenging the rest of the group. It’s fun, wacky and a great team bonding activity.
11. Top Trumps
How much fun can you have with 1 deck of cards? A lot! Plug in your own fun bootcamp exercises and away you go.
12. Bear & Conquer
In this fun bootcamp game, the objective is not to win. Sounds silly, but you'll see what I mean. It's great team building fun.