6 Slam Ball Exercises to Do for Explosive Power, Full-Body Strength, and Serious Stress Relief

Ready to get slammin’?

With foam rollers, sliders, resistance bands, suspension trainers, and wearable weights (just to name a few), these days it seems like there’s an infinite number of workout tools to choose from. Nut none are arguably as versatile—and badass—as the slam ball. If you’ve seen these unassuming rubber balls at the gym, you might be thinking, what’s so special about them? It turns out: a lot.

Slam balls are unique thanks to their ability to endure a ton of force. You can literally slam or throw them—against the floor or any other hard surface—with all your might, to your heart’s content, without breaking them. That means you can use them in a lot of cool ways in your fitness routine.

“Slam balls are a highly effective, full-body workout that improves strength, power, speed, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness simultaneously,” says Life Time personal trainer Orrie Markfeld.

Plus, slamming a ball as hard as you can is a seriously satisfying (and safe) way to blow off some steam and relieve everyday stress.

Slamming a ball as hard as you can is a seriously satisfying (and safe) way to blow off steam.

Ready to get slammin’? Read on to learn more about this dynamic piece of gym gear that can take your fitness up a notch (or two or three).

Slam balls 101

What are slam balls? 

“Slam balls are dense rubber balls specifically designed to withstand high-impact exercises like slamming and throwing against the ground or the wall,” Markfeld says. “They are meant to absorb the force of the impact without bouncing or rolling away.”

How do they differ from traditional medicine balls?

“Medicine balls can be made of leather, rubber, or vinyl and have a little more bounce to them,” Markfeld says. Unlike slam balls, medicine balls are not made for high impact slamming. If you slam them, they pose a serious risk for injury because they bounce (read: they can bounce back and hit you in the face, head, or another body part), according to Markfeld.

Who should avoid slam ball exercises?

“While slam balls are incredible, there are certain individuals who should approach them with caution or avoid them altogether,” Markfeld says. The following groups should steer clear of slam balls:

  • People with pre-existing medical conditions, like cardiac problems
  • People with injuries
  • Pregnant people
  • Gym newbies
  • People who are deconditioned

When in doubt, check in with a qualified professional before beginning slam ball exercises (or any new workout). It’s always a smart idea to consult with your healthcare provider or a fitness trainer if you have any concerns or issues that may affect your ability to safely perform an exercise, Markfeld says.

4 benefits of slam ball exercises 

Why should you use slam balls in your workout? Because they work your body from head to toe. Here are a few extra reasons to give them a try.

1. They build explosive power

“The aggressive and explosive nature of the slam ball requires rapid muscle contractions, which aid in the development of explosive power,” Markfeld says. And the more you do slam ball exercises, the faster you’ll generate force. Meaning: you’ll see big gains in any activities that require speed, agility, and power (think: sprinting, jumping, Olympic weightlifting, soccer, or football), he says.

2. They increase full-body strength

Don’t be surprised if all your muscles are sore after a slam ball workout. “Because the slam ball demands the use of multiple muscle groups simultaneously, the result is a more comprehensive total-body workout,” Markfeld says.

On top of growing stronger in the gym, you’ll also build functional strength (i.e., “you’ll be able to handle everyday activities more comfortably”), he says. And that’s not all. Over time, plan on seeing improvements in your muscular endurance, coordination, agility, and mental toughness. That’s a boatload of bonuses for your mind and body.

3. They provide serious stress relief

Real talk: We all have days when we ponder slamming something out of frustration. Now you can (without hurting yourself or anyone else).

“Slamming a heavy ball onto the ground with force can be extremely cathartic as well as stress-relieving,” Markfeld says. “It’s a perfect outlet for [releasing] pent-up energy and frustration in a controlled, productive, and safe atmosphere.”

So the next time life gets tough, take it out on the slam ball.

4. They up your cardio game

We already know that slam ball exercises are strenuous enough to build full-body strength. But they’re also a killer cardio workout.

“Slam balls are metabolically demanding, as they will elevate your heart rate,” Markfeld says. Translation: Expect to suck some serious wind. And the more you use slam balls, the bigger the benefit for your heart.

“Over time, with consistency, [your] cardiovascular endurance will improve,” Markfeld says.

6 slam ball exercises to get you started

There are a ton of ways to use slam balls in your workouts, but these moves are great to begin with. (Don’t have a slam ball yet? For a home gym, we like the Titan Fitness 50-lb. Rubber Slam Ball.)

1. Overhead Slam

This full-body move is a great way to build explosive power.

fit personal trainer does an overhead slam ball exercise

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Maintaining a neutral spine and weight in your heels, lift the slam ball overhead to full extension of your knees, hips, and arms.
  3. With aggressive flexion of your hip (think: the same movement as a sit-up), slam the ball to the floor between your feet.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

2. Vertical Toe Tap

The biggest challenge with this move is ensuring you’re using your core, not your lower back or momentum, to reach your toes.

fit personal trainer does a slam ball vertical to tap

  1. Lie flat on ground with your legs extended up above your hips.
  2. With straight arms, support the slam ball over your chest.
  3. Keeping your legs straight, crunch up and reach the ball toward your toes. Utilize your core here, not your lower back.
  4. Lower your shoulders back to ground and repeat.

3. Slam Ball Toe Taps

Want to improve your balance and coordination? Do this exercise on a regular basis and you’ll be impressed with how fast you’re able to hop from toes to toes.

male PT demonstrates how to do slam ball toe taps

  1. Stand behind the ball with your feet under your hips.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground and tap the ball lightly with your toes.
  3. Quickly jump and switch feet, tapping the toes of your other foot onto the ball.
  4. Increase speed as you become more comfortable with coordination and balance.

4. Slam Ball Trunk Twist

The classic oblique twist is a great place to incorporate a slam ball.

personal trainer shows how to do a trunk twist with a slam ball

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs raised off the ground, knees in tabletop (if that’s too difficult, keep your feet down).
  2. Hold the slam ball with both hands (if the ball is a clock, your hands are at 9 and 3).
  3. Twist to one side, tapping the ball on the ground beside your hip.
  4. Reverse the movement and twist to opposite side.
  5. Continue for desired time or number of reps.

5. Slam Ball Windmill

Sit at a computer all day? This move opens your chest, strengthens your shoulders, and helps get some mobility into your hips.

male personal trainer hold one hand up to the sky holding a heavy ball and one hand touches his toes

  1. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Rest the slam ball in the palm of your right hand and hold it overhead.
  3. Maintain a locked-out arm position, with your wrist stacked over your shoulder.
  4. Keep your eyes on the ball through the movement.
  5. Hinge at your hips while letting your left arm slide down your left leg as you bow over.
  6. Maintain an open chest, stacking your shoulders over each other in the bottom position.
  7. Go as far down as your range of motion will comfortably allow.
  8. Push back up and raise your chest, returning to the starting position. Switch sides.

6. Slam Ball Alternating Push-Up

Moving the slam ball from one hand to the next challenges your core and stability in a way that regular push-ups are missing.

personal trainer does alternating push-ups on top of a heavy ball at the gym

  1. Begin in a high plank position with one hand supported on the slam ball.
  2. Lower your chest to ground and try not to let your hips sag.
  3. Push back up while maintaining the plank position.
  4. Roll the ball to your opposite hand and perform on the other side.

3 slam ball workouts 

Not sure how to mix those slam ball exercises into your weekly workouts? We took the guesswork out of it for you. Try one of these high-intensity slam ball routines designed by Markfeld. Each one will level up your metabolic conditioning in 20 minutes or less.

Routine 1

Perform 8 rounds of each exercise for 20 seconds on (10 seconds off) with a minute of rest in between movements. The 20-second window is meant to be hard and intense.

Routine 2

Your aim should be to complete each round of 3 exercises in approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Perform 5 rounds in total.

  • 400-meter run
  • 30 overhead slams
  • 30 push-ups

Routine 3

Your goal is to complete as many rounds and reps as possible (AMRAP) in 12 minutes. With relatively low reps for each movement, expect quicker cycle times and transitions from movement to movement.

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