Medicine balls are great for all kinds of body weight exercises because they train your endurance, strength, and balance.

But what if you don't have a medicine ball or you can't perform these movements?

To help you out I've put together this comprehensive guide on the best medicine ball slam alternatives you can add to your workout.

Here are what I believe to be the best medicine ball slam alternatives and how to do each one. Read through each exercise and choose the best one for your workout routine. 

1. Kettlebell Swings (Ball Slam Alternative for At Home)

Woman Swinging A Kettlebell

Kettlebell swings are a great substitute for medicine ball slams as they help you develop power in your glutes and work your entire body. 

I've often used this exercise with my clients during conditioning circuits and is extremely popular. I'm not entirely sure why my clients love this exercise as I think it can be a killer. 

One of my favorite things about this exercise is that you don't need much room for it. I've performed these in hotel rooms, parks, and even my kitchen. It's an excellent ball slam alternative for at home. 

If you lack a set of kettlebells or have difficulty with performing this exercise, try out kettlebell swing alternative exercises.


  • Minimal space required. 
  • Works your full body.

How to do it:

  1. Stand over a kettlebell with your feet hip width apart. 
  2. Pick the kettlebell up with both hands using an overhand grip. 
  3. Hinge from your hips and lean forward (maintain a neutral spine). 
  4. Fire your hips forward in an explosive manner. 
  5. Allow the kettlebell to move freely, following the momentum from your hips. 
  6. Let the kettlebell swing back down between your legs back to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Don't let your shoulders do all of the work, the kettlebell should move upwards using the power from your hips. 

2. Sand Bag Throw

Man Holding A Sand Bag Outdoors

Sandbags can be thrown and caught like a medicine ball, but they can't bounce like one. 

You can mimic the medicine ball slam without the slam part. Doing so will allow you to use all of the same muscles that you would during the ball slam. 

While it's a great ball slam alternative, I have encountered one issue... overtime the bag can split. However, this only happened to me during an outdoor bootcamp and I had been using the bag for well over a year. 

If you're in your home gym, you shouldn't have an issue with this ball slam substitute.


  • Full body movement.
  • Minimal equipment required.

How to do it:

  1. Pick the bag up with both hands.
  2.  Slam it to the ground while tightening your core and squatting.
  3. Clean the bag back up to your chest by picking it up from both ends.
  4. The motion is similar to a regular medicine ball slam but should be done slower because of the awkward shape of a sandbag.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Superset this exercise with burpees for an additional challenge. Trust me, it's a tough one.

3. Dumbbell Thrusters (Medicine Ball Substitute For At Home)

Women Doing Dumbbell Thrusters in Home Gym

Dumbbell thrusters are one of my favorite alternatives for ball slam. 


Because they work all of the same muscles and follow a similar movement pattern. Plus, they get my heart working overtime, which gives me a killer workout.

Thrusters are traditionally performed using a barbell, but you can use dumbbells, kettlebells, sand bags, and any other form of resistance. They're perfect for working out in your home or garage gym. 


  • You don't need a lot of space. 
  • Works your entire body. 
  • Develops power.

How to do it:

  1. Hold two dumbbells in your hands using a neutral grip. 
  2. Lift the dumbbells to shoulder height. 
  3. Brace your core and squat downwards. 
  4. Push up into a standing position and at the same time press the dumbbells above your head. 
  5. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Have a play with squat depths. I enjoy mixing up my thrusters by performing full squats and partial squats. It places the emphasis on different areas of your legs. E.g. half squats use more quads, while full squats use your glutes and hamstrings more.

4. Stability Ball squats

Man Doing Stability Ball Squat

There are many ways to use a stability ball (also known as a Swiss ball), but one of the most simple, yet effective ways is the stability ball squat. 

The stability ball squat is slightly different to the ball slam, but does emulate the squatting pattern, making it a good alternative to add to your workout.

I've used the stability ball with elderly clients as I've found it helps develop base strength and helps them learn movement patterns with minimal risk (not using heavy weights).

I must note, stability balls are bouncier than slam balls, so you can’t slam them into the ground.


  • Ideal for the elderly.
  • Works your lower body.
  • Low risk exercise.

how to do it:

  1. Place a stability ball against a sturdy wall. 
  2. Put your lower back against the ball, pinning it in place. 
  3. Set your feet hip width in front of your body (roughly 2ft from your hip line).
  4. Lower your body to the floor, bending your knees in the process. 
  5. Stop when your knees are at 90-degrees. 
  6. Push upwards back to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Take your time with this movement, perform each rep slowly so that you feel each part of your legs working. Even advanced gym goers can get something from this movement.

5. Cable Machine Front Raise

Man Doing Cable Machine Front Raise Exercise

The cable machine front raise is a brilliant exercise that can be used to develop your shoulders (front delts) in the same manner that the ball slam does. 

While you aren't slamming anything against the floor, the movement pattern your arms move through is the same.

Plus, it's a lot quieter, making it the perfect ball slam alternative for at home. The last thing you want is to wake your neighbor...or worse, your partner. 


  • Develops strong shoulders.
  • Quieter than ball slams.

how to do it:

  1. Attach a rope handle to the cable machine. 
  2. Face away from the cable machine (with your back towards it) and pick up the rope handle with one hand. 
  3. Slightly bend the elbow and raise your arm in front of you until your reach head height. 
  4. Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat. 
  5. Switch arms and finish your set.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • One of my absolute favorite pieces of equipment is a cable machine. You can get a full body workout with just one machine and a few attachments. Try supersetting the front raise with another cable exercise of your choosing.

Required Equipment - Best Cable Crossover Machines

6. Weight Plate squat and raise

Man Doing a Weighted Plate Squat and Raise Exercise

Want to perform a ball slam without the slam part? It's easy to do with the weighted plate squat and raise. 

This movement is an excellent compound exercise which works your entire body. Everything from your legs, core, and shoulders are at work here. It's one of the closest exercises to the ball slam on this list. 

One of the biggest benefits of this ball slam alternative is that it's extremely quiet, so it's perfect if you live in an apartment. 

I've used this exercise as a finisher for my clients, they love to hate it... but it's well worth doing in my opinion. 


  • Works your entire body.
  • Silent movement, ideal for apartment workouts.
  • Great finisher for conditioning circuits.

how to do it:

  1. Hold a weighted plate on either side (like a steering wheel). 
  2. Place your feet shoulder width apart, with your toes on a slight angle. 
  3. Squat downwards bending at the knees while keeping your arms straight. 
  4. When the plate is near the floor, squat upwards while raising the plate out in front of you (in a front raise-esque motion). 
  5. Raise the plate above your head and reverse the movement back to the starting position. 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Make sure you don't go too heavy on this one! Since a weight plate is above your head, you don't want to opt for a weight that's too heavy or you could get injured. 

Further Reading - Bumper Plates Vs Iron

7. Battle Rope Slam

Woman Exercising With Battle Rope

Battle ropes are a good medicine ball alternative as they work your entire body and have the same movement pattern. 

One of the best reasons to perform this exercise is that it has a low impact on your joints, making it ideal if you've got knee issues. 

I'm a HUGE fan of this ball slam alternative and often place it in my Saturday morning conditioning circuit. I love the power I can generate using this exercise without causing any damage to my gym floor.

Who needs the ball slam when you've got battle ropes, right? 


  • Full body workout.
  • Low impact on your joints. 

how to do it:

  1. Attach a battle rope through a secure anchor point. 
  2. Grab both handles and walk backwards leaving a small amount of slack in the rope.
  3. Sit in a partial squat position. 
  4. Raise both arms upwards and slam the rope into the ground as hard as you can. 
  5. Repeat this motion for time (I recommend 20-30 seconds to start).

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Mix things up by changing the slam pattern (also known as wave pattern). You can do this my performing alternating slams, small and fast slams, and more. 

Related Article - Best Battle Ropes Reviewed

8. Sprinting 

Woman Sprinting Outside

If you've performed the ball slam before, you'll know it gives you one hell of a cardio workout. The last time I performed the ball slam my heart rate was through the roof (in a good way). 

By performing sprints, you can get the same effect. 

Sprints are a cost effective way to give your body a challenging workout. You don't need any specialist equipment and can perform this ball slam alternative anywhere. 

The only downside to this movement is that it's not for everyone. Running and sprinting can place a lot of impact on your knee joints, so if you've suffered from knee issues in the past I'd be cautious with this one. 


  • Excellent cardio exercise.
  • Doesn't cost anything (no equipment needed).
  • You can do it anywhere.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • I recommend following a HIIT routine when doing sprints. Start with 30 second of sprinting at max effort followed by 1 minute of walking. Repeat this cycle for 10-15 minutes. 

Muscles Used In Medicine Ball Slams

Medicine balls slams are a very dynamic workout, meaning that they target several muscle groups in your body.[1]

Muscle groups that are worked most effectively include the abdominals, shoulders, lats, biceps, glutes, hips, hamstrings, and calves. Medicine ball slams work all of these muscles because they combine the motion of a squat, clean and jerk, and curl into a single dynamic movement.

Medicine balls slams are a good warm-up routine because they also can be used for cardio. A quick 12 minutes set of medicine ball slams will warm up every muscle in your body and get your blood flowing for the main routine. They can also be used for a cool down.

Things To Keep In Mind When Doing These Exercises

Here is a quick list of important things to keep in mind when doing medicine ball slam alternatives.

Engage Your Core

Every weight exercise should involve engaging your core in some way.[2] You want to tighten your core and abs as you go through each motion, then relax when you release the motion. In other words, every weight routine should be a kind of core workout as well. That way, you get the stability of a strong core.

Start Light

Too many novices start out with a lot of weight and end up hurting themselves. You want enough weight so that the last few reps of a set are challenging, but you do not want to be at 100% strain through the entire set.

Mind Your Pace

Unless you are deliberately training for strength with high weight and low reps, you want to be able to get out at least 10-12 reps per set. Dynamic exercises like medicine ball slams and alternatives are best when you have longer sets.

Common Questions About Medicine Ball Slams

Can you use a slam ball for wall balls?

Yes, you can use a slam ball for wall balls, but not vice versa. Wall balls are too bouncy and fluffy to work as a good slam ball, but slam balls can be effective wall balls

How many calories do you burn doing medicine ball slams?

The calories you burn during medicine ball slams vary. It depends on the rate and intensity of your workout, along with particular physiological features. But we estimate that a 30-minute intense slam ball routine can burn around 300 calories, give or take 50 calories.

Are medicine balls slams effective for weight loss?

Yes, medicine balls slams are good for weight loss because they engage your entire body. An intense medicine ball session will help you burn quite a few calories.

Why is it called a Medicine Ball?

Medicine balls got their name as heavy leather bags of sand were used by people to rehab injuries and regain health. This led way to the modern "medicine ball" we now use. 

What weight medicine ball should I use for abs?

8-9lbs is a good weight medicine ball for working abs. But the weight you need will vary from person to person.


By using the list above, you can now get the benefits of ball slams without needing to perform that exact movement. 

Read through the list of ball slam alternatives above and choose a handful of your favorites for your workout routine. I strongly recommend the weighted plate squat and raise as it's one of the closest movements to the ball slam. 




Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.