Medicine Ball Slams... The Ultimate Cardio Exercise?!
Are medicine ball slams the ultimate low impact, muscle building cardio conditioning exercise? Let's find out...
Benefits Of Medicine Ball Slams
Medicine ball slams aren't a particularly new exercise, however it was only a few months ago that I decided to give them a try, up until then I dismissed them as a CrossFit fad style exercise.
Was I wrong...
The medicine ball slam has a number of fantastic benefits, whether you're looking to burn fat, increase strength or explosive power medicine ball slams can benefit you too.
Increase Explosive Power
The goal of the ball slam is to raise the ball overhead as high as possible with extended arms before slamming the ball to the ground, using your arms as well as your torso - this fast exertion utilizes and builds explosive power.
As the medicine ball slam is a functional movement this explosive power can transfer across to other exercises, sports such as basketball and baseball as well as MMA.
Build Core Strength
In order to lift the medicine ball over head with extended arms and slam it back down to the ground while maintaining your position a surprisingly large amount of core strength is required. As we've discussed in order to get six pack abs core strength is irrelevant, it's all a matter of body fat. That said increasing your core strength does have its benefits! Before I regularly performed exercises such as hanging leg raises, planks and ball slams I found my core stability on my squat and standing military press to be the point of failure - my core was shaking and I struggled to stay upright and maintain my position when lifting heavy weight (I had a tendency to want to fall forward).
After I increased my core strength this is no longer the case.
Medicine ball slams are intense, there's no doubt about it.
Unlike other exercises and forms of cardio, medicine ball slams are to be performed in explosive bursts... form comes first, speed comes second.
Studies time and time again have proven that HIIT (high intensity interval training) burns far more calories than prolonged steady state cardio.
Medicine ball slams, when performed in a HIIT or circuit style workout can burn hundreds of calories, provided you've got your diet in check the calorie deficit that your medicine ball slams workout places you in will be enough to burn fat.
Works The Entire Body
The medicine ball slam is a full body exercise, utilizing the lats, abs and quads.
As the medicine ball slam is a compound exercise it's fantastic for overall conditioning and quickly gets the heart rate going! Which, as mentioned above can burn a ton of calories when structured into a workout correctly.
How To Do A Medicine Ball Slam
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and a non-bounce medicine ball held overhead.
- Throw the ball down to the ground in front of your feet with as much force as possible. Exhale during the movement and contract the abs powerfully.
- If possible, catch the ball as it bounces from the floor. If there's no bounce at all, keep the abdominal muscles engaged and pick the ball from the floor.
- Lift the medicine ball back the the starting position and repeat.
Advanced Ball Slams & Variations
Looking for more of a challenge? Mastered the medicine ball? Here's how you can take your medicine ball slams to the next level...
Upgrade To A Deadball
A deadball is essentially a heavier version of a traditional medicine ball, deadballs generally range from 5kg to 20kg +
The heavier the ball the more power you'll require to get it overhead and slam it to the ground with force. Unlike a lighter medicine ball the deadball will not bounce at all, requiring you to squat down to the ground (while maintaining a straight back) to pick it up and continue with the next rep.
Burpee Ball Slams
Both burpees and medicine ball slams are tough... but when combined....
If you're looking for a fantastic cardio conditioning exercise give the burpee ball slam variation a go.
- Perform a push-up on the medicine ball, jump the feet in and lift the ball overhead.
- Slam the ball down to the ground, catching on the bounce if possible.
- Place the ball back on the ground and jump the feet out to the starting position and repeat!
How To Invent Your Own Medicine Ball Slam Workout
Use a timer, perform constant drills and rest for predetermined intervals.
20 seconds on/20 seconds off for 10 rounds
10 seconds on/10 seconds off for 10 rounds
30 seconds on/30 seconds off for 10 rounds
Tabata (8 rounds of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off)
Set a timer for 5, 10 or 15 minutes and perform as many rounds of a sequence or series of sequences within this time frame.
With your training buddy take it in turns completing a set of slams with the ball. Go for rounds/time.
Create a circuit utilizing the medicine ball slam along with other functional speed/explosive movements such as the jump rope and box jump.
Medicine Ball Workout Examples
Here are a bunch of examples of medicine ball workouts I've performed.
Every one of these workouts is intense and will push you to your limits! Give them a try and then why not come up with your own medicine ball slams workout?
Sample Workout #1
15 medicine ball slams, 1 pull-up
14 medicine ball slams, 2 pull-ups
13 medicine ball slams, 3 pull-ups
1 medicine ball slam, 15 pull-ups
Sample Workout #2
10 medicine ball slams, 10 russian twists
9 medicine ball slams, 9 russian twists
8 medicine ball slams, 8 russian twists
7 medicine ball slams, 7 russian twists
6 medicine ball slams, 6 russian twists
5 medicine ball slams, 5 russian twists
4 medicine ball slams, 4 russian twists
3 medicine ball slams, 3 russian twists
2 medicine ball slams, 2 russian twists
1 medicine ball slam, 1 russian twist
Sample Workout #3
6 rounds for time:
10 medicine ball slams, 10 double-unders
Sample Workout #4
8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off of medicine ball slams (total 4 minutes)
Perform as many 4 minute blocks of Tabata as possible with a 2 minute break between blocks.
Sample Workout #5
As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes:
1 ball slam burpee