With a growing array of gym accessories to work the body from all angles, you are forgiven if those slam balls stacking the gym shelf go unnoticed. However, you might want to think twice during your next workout; this versatile piece of equipment has many benefits, from improving cardio endurance and building strength to improving your power. How? The experts explain it all.
Meet the Expert
- Shay Haddow is a fitness and empowerment coach.
- Natasha Caleel is a certified personal trainer and owner of Fit Mama Santa Barbara.
What Exactly Are Slam Balls?
We are referring to those round weighted balls you may have given a side glance. “These weighted, rubber-coated balls can be used for explosive exercises, and, contrary to medicine balls, are designed for throwing, so the ball doesn’t bounce back or break,” explains Fitness and Empowerment Coach Shay Haddow, “They can also be used for basic weight-lifting and cardio exercises.”
And, if you want to spice up your routine, slam balls are perfect for adding a creative spark to the workout. “You can use slam balls as a replacement for many resistance exercises, such as front squats, deadlifts, or overhead press, or you can throw them around as part of a HIIT workout,” outlines Certified Personal Trainer Natasha Caleel.
Best of all, you can perform an all-over body routine with nothing more than this simple yet powerful piece of equipment.
Why Should We Use Them In Our Workouts?
Slam balls serve multiple functions in your workout to enhance the challenge of different training styles. For example, according to Caleel, rotational twists performed with a slam ball effectively build strength and increase your heart rate (given the added weight). They will help elevate your overall fitness faster.“It also lends itself to more interesting and fun workouts, and as most slam ball movements require multiple muscle groups, gives you the most bang for your buck.”
Alongside this, they are a go-to for enhancing or developing your functional power. “This is harder to achieve with traditional free-weights, but given the nature of slam balls, they are one of the more effective ways to improve core strength and control,” outlines Haddow. And the benefits don’t stop there. “Training with a slam ball directly translates to athletic performance and activities outside of the gym, which makes it a powerful tool in improving overall athletic performance and hand-eye coordination.”
How Do You Decide On An Appropriate Weight?
Keep in mind: slam balls are not one-size-fits-all. Given their availability in a range of weight options, what you select “depends on your current strength level, experience, and goals,” warns Haddow. “Generally speaking, if your goal is cardio-focused, meaning a higher rep count, opt for a lighter slam ball, something between 10-20 lbs.” On the contrary, if building strength and power are on the agenda, a heavier ball (20-30 lbs) will be more suitable.
As Caleel puts it: “You want the weight to be challenging but not impossible,” meaning it tires and tests you without depleting you of all energy. “If you’re aiming to complete a set of 10 repetitions, you want a weight that’s progressively harder for the last few repetitions.” Remember, slam balls can easily exceed 50 pounds in weight, so make sure to pick up one you can comfortably throw, over and over.
10 Slam Ball Exercises From The Experts
The following exercises can be completed in a rep format, such as three sets of 10, or in a timed cardio circuit.
Standing Overhead Slam
Start with feet hip-width apart and the core braced, and hold a slam ball at your chest. Keep a soft bend in your knees. Rise up tall on the toes and extend the arms overhead with the slam ball. Exhale as you throw the ball down towards the ground with force.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, and toes pointed slightly outward. For the starting position, hold the ball at the chest-neck level. Squat down to your desired depth while maintaining a tight core and keeping the ball in the starting position. Come up out of the squat and push the slam ball out ahead of you, making sure you have plenty of space.
Reverse Lunge to Chest Pass
Start standing up with your feet together, and hold the ball at your chest. Perform a reverse lunge, and as you step back to the starting position, throw the ball at a wall or to a partner. Let your momentum carry you forward as you throw.
Single Leg Deadlift
Balancing on your right leg, keep a soft bend in the knee. Hold the ball out in front with bent elbows as you hinge at the body forward at the hips. Repeat for 8-12 reps before switching legs.
Hold the ball with both arms above the head, keeping the arms straight and shoulders stabilized. Perform alternating forward lunges with the ball in the overhead position.
Standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width, hold the slam ball with straight arms. Rotate at the waist to bring the ball to waist height before explosively bringing the ball up and above your left shoulder. Bring the ball back down to waist height on the right-hand size and repeat. Made sure to switch sides.
Sitting in a V-sit position, bend the knees and place both feet on the mat (or raise your heels for a more advanced version). Hold the ball in both hands and twist from side to side as you move the ball from left to right, working the obliques.
Single Arm Push-Up
Place one hand on a slam ball, bring yourself in a plank and perform a push-up. When both arms are straight, roll the ball to the other hand and perform another push-up, alternating between both.
Slam Ball Plank
Place both hands onto the slam ball, bring the body into plank, maintain a straight back, and engage your abdominal muscles.
Slam Ball Sit-Ups
Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping the feet flat on the floor. Hold the ball with arms extended up. Start by lifting your chest off the ground before sitting all the way up and reaching the ball to your feet. Lower back down with control and repeat.