Something about a medicine ball just begs to be hurled into the floor. But are you doing this explosive move correctly? Here’s everything you need to know, plus enough variations to keep you slamming all year!
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The medicine ball slam is one of those moves you’ll see people in fitness marketing photos doing all the time, usually with no shirt and an angry facial expression. But actual people in the gym? Not as much. But I’d argue they should be.
Why? Because the slam is a great total-body exercise for power development and metabolic conditioning. It’s basically a reverse vertical jump that teaches your body how to more quickly and forcefully load the ankles, knees, and hips. Building this critical counter-movement pattern will enhance your performance on vertical jumps, teach all kinds of muscles to work together, and drive plenty of other key athletic moves driven by triple extension.
Consider this article the definitive guide to slamming like a boss. First, I want to discuss the three most common slamming mistakes. Then, I’ll outline how to do slams with perfect form and technique, including the two best starting positions for success. Finally, I’ll share my 12 favorite slam variations, mixing between a slam ball and a traditional bouncing medicine ball.
| 3 Major Slam Faux Pas |
You’d think nothing could go wrong with slamming a ball into the ground. But make no mistake, this is a movement that can be, and often is, butchered. In terms of mistakes, here are the top three:
Too much spinal flexion
Not enough range of motion
Dropping instead of slamming the ball
In the case of number one, many people make the mistake of treating the slam like a downward crunch. Not only is this an inferior way to create and develop power, but explosive and loaded spinal flexion is a recipe for disaster. Focus instead on forcefully dropping your ass while always keeping your chest up and your shoulders higher than your hips.
Two, I see a lot of people who just bring the ball to chest or face-level instead of going all the way overhead. Just like with most exercises, partial range of motion will not allow you to fully maximize the return from your investment. The key to creating maximal power is to create a maximal stretch on the working muscles. The hip flexors and lats will be the two biggest drivers of the downward motion of the slam. To maximally stretch, load, and activate these muscles, you need to start from a full stand with your glutes clenched and your arms overhead. I’ll dig deeper into proper form later.
Three, and this should go without saying, the exercise is called a med ball “slam” not a med ball “drop.” Simply picking the ball up and then releasing, or lightly tossing it down, makes gravity do all of the work. Yes, you will lightly engage your leg, hip, and back muscles when you pick the ball up, but the most important part of the exercise is the downward motion using the force you create with your own muscles.
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