From tried-and-true barbells and kettlebells, to battle ropes and steel clubs, there’s no shortage of equipment at your disposal in the gym. But the humble medicine ball is the hurried man’s unsung workhorse, allowing you to target multiple muscle groups and train your conditioning in the process. 

“I love medicine balls and probably have more in my gym than anyone else,” says Michael Piercy, M.S., C.S.C.S., and owner of the LAB Performance & Sports Science in Fairfield, NJ. “They’re versatile, great for working power, and can be used to work the whole body. They’re also one of the few tools where you can load up the implement and have it leave your body,” he adds, noting that other power equipment like sleds require you to control the implement throughout the entire movement.

According to Piercy, slams also allow for all-out maximum power, and the movements translate well to sports and daily life because they mirror functional athletic moves like throws and pushes. In addition to firing up your muscles, they’re great for metabolic work and yield that coveted bang-for-your-buck efficiency—perfect if you’re pressed for time. “If you’re doing repeated slams, you can really get your heart rate up,” he says. 

How to Do It Right

Before you slam anything, you’ve got to ensure your body is in the proper position to execute this powerful move. For a standard overhead slam, Piercy says to load like you’re about to jump onto a box, with your knees bent and your hips hinged.

“You’re looking to engage the whole posterior chain—the glutes, quads, hamstrings, triceps, and lats.”

Accelerate your arms down hard like you’re trying to slam the ball through the floor. It should land directly in front of you.

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