Most stress-fighting solutions revolve around calming yourself down, breathing deeply and perhaps even listening to the gentle tones of whale song. However, sometimes this isn’t going to cut it, and the best option is to hit or hurl something as hard as possible until exhausted.
The medicine ball slam is therefore not only an excellent compound exercise that will work out a variety of muscles, but also an immensely satisfying way to shed some stress without actually breaking anything (assuming you direct your slams into the ground accurately).
There’s very little the medicine ball slam doesn’t do. Muscles all over the body are exercised by the movement, with your core and upper back bearing the brunt of the action. Doing repeated reps also raises the heart rate in dramatic fashion, so fans of high-intensity interval training should be greatly enamoured with the exercise.
How To Do The Medicine Ball Slam
Start by selecting your medicine ball. Remembering that you don’t want it to be too heavy, unless you’re very sure it’s not going to smash through the floor onto whatever’s below. If you’re really worried on this front, a sandbell might be a smarter option.
The actual exercise is simple to follow. Start by standing with the medicine ball in both hands out in front of you. Press it overhead until your arms are straight, then summon all the reserves of frustration built up over your day and slam the medicine ball down to the ground.
As you slam follow the ball with your body by squatting down towards the ground. Try not to bend at the hips. As the ball bounces up, grab it and push upwards again. Or if using a sandbell, which will not bounce, scoop it up off the ground and push up out of the squat.
Repeat for three sets of 12-15 reps, or do as many as you can in a set time as part of a HIIT workout.
If you want to raise the difficulty of the medicine ball slam one excellent option is to do it while standing on a Bosu balance ball. The challenge to your balance will work your core muscles all the harder as you try and stay upright while slamming away.
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“When you perform the triple extension, focus on it so that you extend your arms above your head when you’re on your tiptoes,” says Jack Lovett, owner of Spartan Performance gym (opens in new tab). “There are two ways of doing that. The correct way is to reach straight up to the ceiling. I don’t want you to move your arms behind your head as if you were taking a football throw-in.”
“I’m always looking for quality of slam,” says Lovett. “When I’m coaching people I tell them to execute power moves with ‘bad intentions’. It’s how it hits the floor that matters – I can tell how well a client is doing without looking at them because I can hear the impact of the ball and judge the quality of the rep by the sound it makes.”
“The majority of the movement is at the hips,” says Lovett, “so it is similar to a Russian kettlebell swing. When you throw the ball, your hips hinge backwards to bring in your glutes and hamstrings. Your aim should be to come down as violently as possible.”
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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