Slam balls and medicine balls are both weighted balls you can use to enhance your workout routine. The differences between the two are slight but should be considered to ensure you get the right equipment for your fitness goals.
Both slam and medicine balls can be found in weights ranging from 2 lbs. to 50 lbs. The size typically ranges from roughly the size of a softball to slightly larger than a basketball. A medicine or slam ball can be added to a variety of exercises simply by holding the ball while performing the exercise. Some examples are squats, sit-ups, overhead presses and lunges. Both balls also work for partner exercises such as chest passes, overhead passes and rotational abdominal work where partners stand back to back and twist to pass the ball to each other.
The most significant difference between a slam ball and medicine ball is that a slam ball is designed for throwing exercises. It has a harder shell typically made of a tough rubber so it can handle a high-velocity impact against a hard surface. Some manufacturers make slam balls with rope running through the centers. This variety is used for swinging exercises. Medicine balls are typically made of leather, rubber or plastic, and are sometimes manufactured with handles to make holding the balls easier.
Slam balls can be used for standard weight-lifting exercises in place of free weights and for dynamic exercises that involve an increased cardiovascular aspect. Slam balls are also effective for athletic training because they improve muscle mass, cardiovascular endurance and hand-eye coordination. Medicine balls are typically used only for standard lifting exercises because they are not meant to withstand impacts like slam balls do. But they are still useful for athletic training.
Slam Ball Exercises
The most common exercise is a ball slam. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and lift the slam ball above your head while rising onto the balls of your feet. Throw the ball toward the ground a little bit in front of you to prevent the ball from bounding back in your face. Keep your arms relatively straight, and as you throw the ball, crunch your abs and bend your knees. You then catch or retrieve the ball and repeat the sequence. Concentrate on breathing in on the lift and out on the throw. The ball slam works your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, quads, glutes, calves and back. Repeating the exercise will increase your heart rate and burn more calories.
Use a slam ball in an abdominal workout by doing a sit-up with feet 6 to 12 inches from a wall and holding the ball at chest level. Once you're in the middle of the sit-up, toss the ball against the wall while you continue to crunch up, catch the ball and return to the floor. You can also use a slam ball with a partner. Chest, overhead and bounce passes work your arms, chest, back and abdominals and improve hand-eye coordination.
Medicine Ball Exercises
Use a medicine ball in place of free weights to add a dimension of functional training to a workout. This is helpful for athletes. Or use the ball for functional training that will prepare your body for movements you make in everyday life. One functional exercise is a diagonal chop. Stand with your feet facing forward toward a wall, and hold the ball in your hands. Move the ball above your head and diagonally while rotating your hips so one faces the wall. Then move the ball diagonally toward the opposite side of your body and close to the floor. Once you finish your repetitions on one side, switch to the other. The diagonal chop will work your arms, chest, back, abdominals, obliques, legs and glutes.