Slam Ball! Relieve Stress, Burn Fat and Have Fun!
Repeatedly slamming a slam ball on the floor is a great way to burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health and relieve stress. Overhead slams are becoming an increasingly popular part of warm ups, circuits and outdoor workouts.
A simple and effective exercise, all you need is a slam ball and a suitable floor* to slam it on.
*A suitable floor and setting is important for this movement as it involves slamming a ball as hard as possible on to the floor. This is all well and good in gyms and the great outdoors, but your neighbour in the flat below won’t be too chuffed when the ‘thunderstorm’ from above leads to their stir fry being seasoned with ceiling.
How do you do it? Overhead slams are easy to do, simply:
Assume an athletic stance (feet about shoulder width apart) with the slam ball between your feet
Squat down and pick up the ball
Raise the ball up above your head, you might rise up on to the balls of your feet in the process
Slam the ball onto the floor in front of you
Use basic bodyweight squatting mechanics when picking up the ball. Aim to maintain a flat back.
Squeeze your mid-section (abs, core, trunk) when raising the ball over your head, and keep squeezing when slamming the ball down.
Breathe in on the pick up and breathe out on the slam.
Be aggressive when slamming the ball; you’re aiming to slam the ball as hard as you can.
Be quick on the pick up. Get moving!
Warm up by performing several low intensity slams before gradually building up to slamming the ball with 100% intensity
What are the benefits?
Burning calories and unloading the stresses of the day are two major benefits of overhead slams. They’re also a useful tool for improving the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) and getting warmed up/fired up for exercises that require maximum power output.
Why are they so effective?
Overhead slams are effective for three main reasons:
It’s a low skill movement (easy to do)
All you’re doing is picking up a ball, raising it over your head and slamming it on the floor. Yes, there are a few things to watch out for but the technique can usually be grasped after a couple of attempts.
It uses the whole body
Overhead slams connect the legs, hips, trunk, shoulders and arms to generate as much force as possible. Whole body exercises are the most effective way to burn fat and build strength.
Overhead slams provide the chance to let loose and relieve some stress. You don't have to think too much about technique, and if you've ever done overhead slams you'll be well aware that there's something strangely satisfying about them.
Overhead side slams incorporate a rotational element. Many movements in sports involve rotation, for example if you are throwing an opponent in judo or mimicking the finishing manoeuvre of your favourite pro-wrestler*. To perform side slams simply repeat the steps for the overhead slam but slam the ball to the side, alternating sides with every slam.
*Although the stories are sometimes scripted, the dangers are very real. Pro-wrestling manoeuvres should not be attempted at home, at school or at the workplace.
How do I use it in sessions?
Overhead slams can be used in a variety ways…
Warm Up, Fire Up
Use the movement as a way to warm up/get fired up for other power or strength exercises. Two or three sets of 3-6 repetitions of absolute maximum effort will suffice. This will switch your system on and get you prepped for your session.
On their Own... Circuits... Outdoors
Overhead slams can be done as a stand alone exercise, for a set time, for a set number of repetitions or as part of a larger circuit.
Thirty seconds of slamming the ball as hard as you can will get your heart rate up, burn calories and add a bit of fun to sessions. Power output will deteriorate as time goes on but you should try to slam the ball as hard on your last rep as you did on the first.
Don't overthink it, just slam the ball hard until you're out of breath, catch your breath and repeat. If you're training outdoors, combining overhead slams with hill sprints is a great way to crank it up a notch!
Is it best to use as heavy a slam ball as possible?
No, a heavier ball will lead to a slower slam, a lighter ball will be a quicker and more powerful slam. Overhead slams are not a strength exercise — the idea is to be able to get the ball up over your head easily and then slam it as hard as possible. If it's a struggle to get the ball over your head, it's too heavy and you won't be able to effectively slam it.
Remember the idea is to be moving quickly, producing a lot of force and repeating this over and over. Slam balls range in weight from about 2-16kg, use the weight that allows you to slam the ball powerfully but isn't light enough to throw like a tennis ball.
Overhead slams are a fun, quick and easy way to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular functioning. Try them out, the slam ball might just become your new favourite toy!