Slam balls are about one of the most versatile and durable pieces of gym equipment out there.
For CrossFit athletes of all levels, slam balls are a great way to increase your fitness and develop skills that will carry over to better performance in WODs.
Slam balls fit right into the CrossFit box scene. They are made with a pliable rubber shell that stands up to slams, tosses, and carries.
Slam balls typically weigh between 10-50lbs, meaning an athlete can use and make progress with them.
Heavier slam balls exist, but most CrossFit exercises can be performed effectively with a slam ball weight in this range.
This guide will walk you through the benefits of using slam ball, how to add them to your CrossFit routine, exercises you might consider, and 4 killer CrossFit WODs that incorporate slam balls.
Sarah Scholl putting in work. Read her interview here.
If you’re looking for the right slam ball for your gym, check out this guide featuring The Best Slam Balls For CrossFit In 2018.
Benefits Of Using A Slam Ball
There are many advantages to adding slam balls into your routine, but these are the 4 main benefits of adding slam balls into your CrossFit training:
1. Slamball exercises have a low learning curve.
Even if you’ve never seen a slam ball before, you could add them to your training today.
It’s a heavy rubber ball filled with sand that shifts constantly.
The way it’s designed, you won’t be able to hold onto it if you aren’t holding it with somewhat correct form.
For coaches, the slam ball is a seamless addition to their client’s routine.
For newer athletes, it’s a piece of heavy equipment that requires far less mental energy than say, a snatch or kipping pull-up.
2. Slam balls help you be more explosive.
Two of the most popular applications of this piece of equipment is the ball slam and the slam ball throw.
Both of these movements will make you a more powerful athlete.
If developing explosiveness fits into your fitness goals, look at some of the sample workouts below.
3. Slam balls are versatile and keep training fun.
There are so many ways you can incorporate a slam ball into a fitness routine.
You are only limited by creativity (and maybe your fitness level, if the slam ball is heavy).
Further down the page, you’ll find 4 ways you can incorporate slam balls into your CrossFit training.
4. Slam balls pair well with a lot of different movements.
Slam balls are a perfect compliment for heavy barbell lifts, bodyweight movements, and even different types of cardio.
As CrossFit combines many different exercises, slam balls seamlessly fit into many different styles of workouts.
Adding Slam Balls Into Your CrossFit Routine
Use these videos below to get you started with incorporating slam balls into your CrossFit workouts.
Below each video, you’ll find a section containing 2-4 coaching cues to perform the movement right, along with a few suggestions of how you might program the movement into your workouts in the “Applied In CrossFit” section.
Cues: pick up between feet, drive overhead, drop into squat as you slam
Applied In CrossFit: 30 second max reps, supersets, AMRAP wod
Cues: pick up between your feet, lock arms around the ball, “squeeze to chest”
Applied To CrossFit: max distance, max time, “Rounds For Time” WOD
Cues: ball between feet, “explode up” throwing ball as high as you can, step away from wall
Applied To CrossFit: strength portion of the WOD, supersets, max height, 30 second max reps
This video features a wallball instead of a slam ball, but it’s the same thing. For a workout like #4 (800m Slam Ball Medley) below, simply chase after the ball and pick it up where it lands.
Cues: ball between feet, pick up to chest, “rotate”, “explode forward”
For more seasoned athletes, consider adding strongman movements to your routine. Rogue Fitness actually sells slam balls weighing up to 150lbs.
They will cost you, but you’ll be more equipped to incorporate strongman routines
Here is a video of a strongman athlete using a 70kg (~150lbs) slam ball to do stone loads (also known as “ground to shoulder” in CrossFit) in a “max reps” style workout:
Other CrossFit Movements
You can also use a slam ball to substitute or enhance typical CrossFit movements that might require a barbell or your bodyweight to perform. Here are 2 examples:
Slam Ball Thrusters
Cues: ball on chest, full squat down, press overhead (full extension)
Applied In CrossFit: any WOD
Slam Ball Squats
Cues: same as a normal squat, but “squeeze to chest”
Applied In CrossFit: any WOD
And A Few More
For those of you that can’t get enough, here are a few more slam ball resources containing exercises/workouts you might try:
- Slam Ball Chops
- Slam Ball Complete Body Workout (15 Different Slam Ball Exercises)
- 13 Insane Dead Ball Exercises (some good variations to exercises mentioned here)
- 10 Slam Ball CrossFit WODs
Slam Ball CrossFit Workouts
These 4 CrossFit workouts all incorporate the slam ball, just in very different ways. Test your various levels of fitness with these workouts and see where you stand!
#1. Bodyweight Slam Ball Firebreather
- Ball Slams (30/20)*
*You can use any weight you have here to get a great workout, but these RX weights are something to aspire to
#2. 800m Slamball Medley
- 200m Run
- 200m Slam Ball Carry
- 200m Broad Jump200m Slam Ball Chest Toss (pick up where the ball lands and toss again)
#3. Bench Press/Slam Ball Supersets (EMOM)
- Every 2 Minutes, for 14 Minutes
- 7 Bench Press Reps (60% 1RM)
- 20 Medicine Ball Slams
Pairing these exercises is a great way to develop upper body power.
You will also walk away from this workout with the pump of your life if you stick to the percentages and don’t be a hero on the bench press weight.
Your goal is to complete all 189 reps of this workout.
#4. 10 Minute Front Squat/Slam Ball AMRAP
- 10 Front Squats, 135lbs
- 10 Ground to shoulder w/ slam ball (30/20)
- 50 ft Handstand walk*
*Sub 150ft bear crawl if you can’t do handstand walks
This guide also features 3 more CrossFit workouts you must try that incorporate slam balls.
While there are many benefits, slam balls are a perfect addition to your CrossFit routine because of their versatility, low learning curve, ability to pair well with many different movements and make you more powerful.
If you’re looking to develop upper body strength, consider movements like the medicine ball toss or super-setting a high volume bench press session with ball slams.
For a lower body test, combine front squats with slam ball ground to shoulders in an AMRAP.
Test your lungs with a slam ball burner combining burpees or 200m runs.
As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate slam balls into your CrossFit training.
Give these workouts a try and enjoy the benefits of slam ball training as you pursue your fitness goals.