The medicine ball slam is a simple and effective movement to teach integrated force production, hip extension, coordination, and core control. Many coaches and athletes are familiar with this movement, however some may not fully understand the complexities behind a simple slam.
Therefore, in this article we will discuss what a medicine ball slam consists of (as there are many variations) and three main benefits to expect from performing them.
Medicine Ball Slam Demo
In the below video the medicine ball slam is demonstrated. Note, the slam can be controlled and less aggressive (often for movement learning and/or conditioning purpose) or full force and acceleration (promote power production and or enhanced neurological firing rates and synchronization of movement). The ball can be slammed throughout a wide degree of angles, which can be used to acclimate and further develop athleticism and injury resilience.
1. Total Body Conditioning
The medicine ball slam typically starts from the floor; with a lifter performing a clean movement and transitioning the ball overhead. I typically will have athletes perform an explosive vertical jump into a violent yet controlled slam throughout fullest of ranges of motion. By increasing the distance the load is moved, the speed, and the force outputs per slam, a lifter will often exhaust high amounts of energy. When done repeatedly, either at maximal or submaximal outputs, this exercise can be a very functional movement to increase work capacity and move throughout a multi-directional range of motion.
2. Multi-Directional Core Training
Ball slams can be done in a variety of angles; whether to the side, front, in an arcing pattern, and more. The ability to contract the hip flexors, abdominals, and obliques through a full range of motion can help to engage and promote explosive and controlled movements throughout the torso. This controlled contractions and force production throughout the core can increase power development and spinal stability while on motion, each vital to strength, power, and sport athletes during loaded and unloaded movements (cleans, snatches, squat, running, contact sports, etc).
3. Enhanced Athleticism
Athletic movement is fluid, forceful, controlled, and has the ability to transfer into a wide array of movement variants in an ever changing environment. The ability to react to stimuli both inside and outside the control of the athlete, engage with the surroundings, and manipulate objects and oneself specific to sport goal or function is at the root of most athletics. When performing medicine ball slams, a lifter must promote force, react to stimuli, and repeat in a fluid manner, much like what is needed throughout fitness and sport.
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Editor’s Note: Lindsay Ferzoco, CF Level 1 Trainer and co-owner of Bar + Plates Fitness and Nutrition Consulting, has this to add about medicine ball slams as a coach and athlete:
“I’m always looking for movements that I can do anywhere, and a functional movement that combines total body strength with conditioning is perfect! With a medicine ball, you can throw it in the car and take your training anywhere to get those muscles burning and heart pumping!
Medicine ball slams hit my entire core better than anything else. It makes it easy to target different muscle groups and get a pretty intense workout.
Anytime I can get more technique work in without the use of a barbell, I’m all for it. Practicing speed on the Olympic lifts, and stability with squats and overhead movements with a medicine ball is a fun and challenging way to change things up.”
Featured Image: @5ffitnessla on Instagram