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 are about one of the most versatile and durable pieces of gym equipment out there.
What Are Slam Balls?
Slam balls fit right into the CrossFit box scene. They are a weight ball, similar to medicie balls that are made with a pliable rubber shell that stands up to slams, tosses, and carries.
Slam balls typically weigh between 10-50lbs, meaning any CrossFit athlete can use and make progress with them.
Looking to buy a slam ball? Here are the top picks:
Heavier slam balls exist, but most slam ball exercises can be performed effectively with a slam ball weight in this range.
Not only is weight an important consideration to make when it comes to slam balls but you also need to think about whether your favorite slam ball exercises require bounce or non-bounce balls. Slam balls with bounce mean you’re able to catch the ball after slamming into the ground, while non-bounce will hit the ground and stay flat.
This guide will walk you through the benefits of using a slam ball, how to add them to your CrossFit routine, exercises you might consider, and 4 killer CrossFit WODs that incorporate a weighted ball.
Sarah Scholl putting in work. Read her interview here.
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!
Slam ball workout #1. Bodyweight Slam Ball Firebreather
- Ball Slams (30/20)*
This is a full body workout and works both your upper and lower body, perfect for when you want to work multiple muscle groups.
Take up your starting position of standing with your feet shoulder-width apart over the slam ball. Next move into a squat position to pick the ball up from the ground, raising it above your head be sure to keep your arms are fully extended. Slam the ball in the ground.
If possible catch the ball to begin your next rep.
*You can use any weight you have here to get a great workout, but these RX weights are something to aspire to and can be great for strength training.
Slam ball workout #2. 800m Slamball Medley
- 200m Run
- 200m Slam Ball Carry
- 200m Broad Jump
- 200m Slam Ball Chest Toss (pick up where the ball lands and toss again)
For this slam ball exercise you will have to first complete a 200 meter run followed by a carry and chest toss. These toss should be performed at chest level making use of your explosive power.
The carries can be performed with one hand if possible.
Slam ball workout #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 and core muscles.
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. Remeber to fully extended during reps and always return to the correct starting position.
Slam ball 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. Be sure to keep correct form while completing this workout and always return to the right standing positon.
More Slam Ball Exercises For Your CrossFit Routine
Use these videos below to get you started with incorporating slam balls exercises 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 medicine ball workouts in the “Applied In CrossFit” section.
Med Ball Slams
Also known as medicine ball slams your starting position here should be in a squat position over the ball sat between your legs. Pick the ball up from the ground keeping it close to the body and drive it over your head as you contract your core muscles. Holding the ball overhead complete the movement by slamming it into the ground and squating as you do so.
Applied In CrossFit: 30 second max reps, supersets, AMRAP wod
This is a great med ball workout to target a range of muscles. Pick up the slam ball from between your feet, lock arms around the ball, “squeeze to chest”. There is no need to carry the ball overhead and instead it should be kept at chest level.
Applied To CrossFit: max distance, max time, “Rounds For Time” WOD
If possible carries can be performed with one hand.
Standing with your feet should-width apart pick the ball up from between your feet, “explode up” throwing ball as high as you can, step away from wall. This workout requires explosive power and ideally should not be completed with a bounce slam ball.
When you are moving the ball forward in front of you to begin the movement try to do so with your arms fully extended.
Return to the starting position against the wall and place the ball back in between your feet. If you’re feeling good try to give your muscles as little rest as possible between reps.
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.
Start by standing up tall with the slam or med ball at chest level and elbows to your side. The starting position should be with your hips slightly bent and you shouldn’t move from this position. From here slam the ball into the wall letting it bounce when it hits the floor. If possible catch the ball and return to the starting position.
Remember to focus on form and strength from your core muscles when you throw the ball.
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: Starting with the ball on your chest, full squat down, press overhead (full extension). You do not slam the ball for this exercise.
Take care of your hips with this workout.
Applied In CrossFit: any WOD
Slam Ball Squats
Hold the ball forward in front of you this is the same as a normal squat, but with a slam or med ball “squeezed to your chest”. Again you do not need to slam the ball for this exercise meaning not as much explosive power is required. It is important that you use proper form for your hips in this workout.
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 medicine ball 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
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.
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 ball workouts into your CrossFit training.
Give these workouts a try and enjoy the benefits of slam ball training as you pursue your fitness goals.