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April 12, 2021 10 min read

Dumbbells and barbells are some of the most commonly used exercise equipment due to their ease of use and versatility. However, there is a piece of exercise equipment that is just as easy to use and even more versatile that many fitness enthusiasts are missing out on.

What is that you ask? Well, it’s the slam ball; not to be confused with the  kettlebellSlam balls were designed to improve explosiveness and power within your workouts.

They caught on quickly due to their ability to allow for a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time and the fact that you only need one piece of equipment. This article will provide you with 10 exercises you can perform using a slam ball to get a full-body workout, but first, let’s learn a little bit more about a slam ball.

A slam ball in a gym

What Is A Slam Ball?

Essentially, a slam ball is an extra heavy medicine ball that handles more like dead weight meaning they have no bounce. Because of their inability to bounce, slam balls provide a better range of motion and movement speed that you cannot get from using old-school gym equipment.

To help you understand the difference, here are some different kind of exercise balls you may or may not have heard of:

  • Slam Ball: Usually containing sand or gel on the inside, slam balls have a soft, rubber outside so the ball does not break or bounce when thrown against something such as the wall or cement floor. Often found in CrossFit locations as one of their main strength training tools.
  • Medicine Ball: Typically color-coded by weight and larger than slam balls, medicine balls are available in a wide range of weights and can be made out of rubber, vinyl, or leather. Medicine balls; however, are not meant to be thrown. They are usually hollow on the inside meaning they can break open or bounce.
  • Wall Ball: Probably the least common out of them all, they are actually the largest of the three. A wall ball is designed to be thrown only at a wall (as the name implies) and is generally covered in leather.

Aside from choosing the exercise ball that bests suits your fitness goals, you will also need to use the appropriate weight to prevent injury (which we will discuss in more detail later on). Just like everything else fitness, the weight that works best for you will be based on a lot of different factors.

However, as a general rule of thumb, beginners typically start with a weight of 2-6 pounds before moving up to an intermediate weight of 6-12 pounds. For the more advanced fitness enthusiasts among us, they may be able to use an exercise ball weighing 20 pounds or more. 

When choosing the weight of the ball you will use, choose one that is challenging without disabling or impacting your movement. Another rule of thumb when it comes to exercise balls is to start with the lighter weight. By doing so, you will promote great form.

Choosing to use a ball of a heavier weight can actually compromise your form, thus making the exercise harder and putting you are a higher risk of injury. It is important to remember quality is more important than quantity when it comes to building up your strength and gaining muscle. There is no shame in having slam balls of different weights for different exercises. 

Benefits Of Using A Slam Ball

Now that you have an understanding of what to look for in a slam ball, let’s move on to discuss the many benefits of using one. We already mentioned how a slam ball can bring more explosiveness and power into your workouts; however, there are even more benefits, such as:

  • Easy to learn
  • Extremely versatile
  • Keeps training fun
  • Improve agility
  • Increases metabolism
  • Better stability
  • Can be paired with other exercise equipment

Safety First

Seeing as how a slam ball involves forceful throws and quick movements, having a weak core and upper body may lead to more pain than results so it is very important to make sure you are using them properly. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Use The Right Weight

Yeah, we know we already mentioned this, but we are going to mention it again because that’s how important it is. If you are using a slam ball that is too heavy, it will be hard for you to properly handle it.

In order to perform the workouts, you need to be able to lift or throw the ball without it being too much of a struggle. On top of that, you do not want to increase the chances of you dropping the ball causing a serious foot or leg injury.

Do Not Over Bend

When attempting to throw the heavy, deadweight ball, it can be really easy to overextend your back or to overbend the knees. Engaging your core will help keep your body properly aligned throughout the throw and prevent muscle strain in your lower back.

Modify When Necessary

If you are feeling pain when completing any of the exercises, whether you are using an exercise ball or not, you can always modify the movement. This may mean taking it to your knees instead of keeping your legs straight or it may mean switching to a lighter weight until you have gained more strength and healed the muscles that may be causing you pain. You are much better off modifying the movement than to be injured and unable to work out at all.

Mind Your Pace

There is no need to rush through the movements. Going too fast can cause you to over-exert yourself causing serious injury or health problems. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

This is especially true if you are a newbie because your muscles are weaker and more susceptible to damage. Keeping your movements slow will actually work your muscles more increasing your strength faster

Handsome concentrated man looking at the medicine ball

10 Slam Ball Exercises (Full-Body Workout)

For the most part, in order to complete any of these exercises, all you need is your slam ball, a sturdy wall, and a durable surface that will not be damaged by the ball being thrown or dropped. Oh, and a desire to smash things always helps. Here are 10 slam ball exercises you can do for a full-body workout:

1. Ball Slam

The ball slam is the first exercise to perform with most slam balls because it feels so good to slam something into the ground. However, we need to remember that good form is key here.

To perform a ball slam you simply stand with feet shoulder-width apart and lift the ball over your head and using all your might, throw it into the ground. That’s it! You like how powerful it makes you feel so you definitely do it again.

2. Squat Jump Slam

Similar to a ball slam, the squat jump slam is the same but with a squat. To execute this move you will start by holding the ball centered in front of you and feet shoulder-width apart. Now begin to lower yourself and the ball towards the ground by pushing your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair.

Push hard into your feet and push yourself into a jump from here. While you jump, raise the ball over your head. At the top of your jump, throw the ball to slam it into the ground. As you land on the floor, re-enter a squatting position, retrieve the ball with your hands, and repeat for 30-45 seconds.

For a modified version, you can do a simple squat slam. For this move, you start with your arms fully extended so the ball is above your head. As you squat, slam the ball into the ground. While your knees are bent, scoop up the ball and return to the starting position (arms up with the ball overhead). That is one rep.

3. Overhead Slam

This is another exercise that will make you feel super powerful. You should be aware of the explosiveness the slam ball introduces to your workout session. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the ball in between your legs.

Now you will squat down and grab the ball (use both hands). As you return to stand, lift the ball overhead. To complete the move, drop the slam ball on the ground as you set yourself back into a squat and repeat the process until your set is complete. A set is usually 30 seconds.

4. Lateral Slam

Lateral slams are great for improving your rotational power, which is often forgotten about but plays a big part in your balance and range of motion. Start by standing with the ball at your waist and the right side of the body facing a wall. Aim to be arm’s length away from the wall.

Next, twist at the hips towards the wall. Meanwhile, tighten your core and use the power from it to quickly throw the ball at the wall. Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat the process until your set is complete. Once you have completed the set, switch and do the same thing on your left side.

5. Russian Twist

This is an exercise that can be done with or without a ball. However, for our purpose, you will obviously be using a slam ball. To perform a Russian twist, sit on the floor and hold the ball at chest level with your knees bent slightly. Your upper body should be leaning back about 45-degrees.

Now, twist at the hips towards the right and bring the ball to the ground on the same side. Continue to twist to the opposite side. Bring the ball around with you and touch the ground on your left side. Keep the ball around chest height every time you move through your center.

Continue this movement for 30-45 seconds. If this feels too easy for you, you can make it more difficult by holding your feet off the ground as you twist back and forth. You should feel it in your core more. You can also adjust to a heavier slam ball if necessary.

6. Overhead Straight Leg Sit-Up

Begin by lying with your back flat on the floor, holding the ball with your arms extended so that the ball is above your chest. Keep your heels on the floor (anchoring them with something heavy to keep them in place) as you engage your core, back muscles, and upper legs to sit up.

As you are moving, hold the ball above your head. Lower yourself down and return to the starting position. That is one rep.If that is too advanced for your skill level, you can do a modification of this called a 45-degree sit-up. To perform this, lay on the floor the same as described above.

Hold the ball at chest level as you perform sit-ups for about 30 seconds. For even further modification, you can face a wall or a partner to throw the ball back to you as you perform the sit-ups. If you choose to use a wall, you will need a ball with a bounce to get the rebounds.

7. Slam Ball Burpee

If you already know how to perform a burpee, adding a slam ball is a great way to intensify your workout. To execute this exercise, you will start standing upright with the ball overhead. Next slam the ball into the ground as hard as you possibly can.

After slamming the ball, lower into a squat and place both hands on the ball in front of you. Jump your legs back to enter a push-up position. From here, immediately jump back into a low squat. As you stand up, grab the ball with both hands and jump. As you jump, slam the ball into the ground with all your power again. You have just started your next rep.

8. Reaching Lateral Lunge

This will require you to perform a lateral lunge as you normally would except you will be holding your slam ball at chest level. Keep your back upright as you lunge forward with your right foot. Begin to lower towards the ground allowing the left knee to bend.

As you lower yourself, thrust the ball out in front of you until your arms are straight out in front of you. Squeeze your core and raise yourself back up meanwhile pulling the slam ball back in towards your chest. That is one rep. Do this as many times as you can in 30 seconds. 

If you like a good challenge, consider holding the slam over your head as opposed to keeping the ball at chest level. This is great to work different upper body muscles with the same exercise move.

9. Figure 8

No, we are not talking figure skating figure 8’s here. To perform this exercise, lower into a deep squat while holding a low weight ball with your right hand, keep your palm facing up under the ball. Move the ball in between your legs as if you are going to dribble the ball.

However, instead of bouncing the ball, you are going to pass it to your left hand. Continue to move the ball in a circular motion around your left wrapping it back through your legs into the right hand, as if you are drawing a figure 8 around your legs. Continue to “draw your figure 8’s” for 30 seconds.

10. Rolling Push-Up

To execute a rolling push-up, you will begin in your typical push-up position except you have one hand on the ball. Lower yourself towards the ground and back to the starting position. Now roll the exercise ball to the opposite hand and do another push up. This completes one set. Repeat the process alternating hands for 30-45 seconds. 

If doing a normal push-up is typically difficultfor you, it is possible to modify this exercise by bringing your knees to the ground instead of keeping the legs fully extended behind you. If you have bad knees or it is still too difficult to complete on your knees, you can modify it even further by skipping the push-up altogether and turning the exercise into an alternating rolling plank.

Get To Slam Balling

Whether you decide to use all 10 exercises or just 1-2 of the exercises provided above, you are sure to improve your strength and power using a slam ball regularly. Whenever you are using your slam ball be sure to keep proper form and use the appropriate weight for you and your fitness goals.

By taking the right safety precautions you can prevent serious injury. Remember to choose an exercise ball that is appropriate for your skill level and works for the workouts you will be doing. If you are a beginner, stick to exercises balls 6 pounds or less. If you are at more of an intermediate skill level, you can go as high as 12 pounds.

You should not use any exercise ball over 20 pounds unless you are experienced with slam balls. Also, depending on the workout, you may require a ball that will bounce or a ball that is dead weight. Irregardless, using a slam ball as part of your fitness journey will work most major muscle groups in your body, including but not limited to your arms, back, chest, legs, glutes and, most importantly, your core.