3 Benefits of Medicine Ball Slams

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.

Want More Core?

Check out these top articles on advanced core training for strength, power, and fitness athletes!

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

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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