Medicine Ball Slam Alternatives (Workout Substitutes)

Medicine balls are great for all kinds of bodyweight exercises because they train your endurance, strength, and balance. Medicine ball slams involve lifting the medicine ball and throwing it sharply into the ground while tightening your core.

We put together this comprehensive guide on how to pull off medicine ball slams and some medicine ball slam alternatives to the workout.

Medicine ball slams are useful for many kinds of workouts, but not everyone will find them a good fit. They can be hard if you do not have enough space or you do not have a floor that you can actually slam the ball down. You may also want to modify them to target specific muscle groups.

1. Kettlebells

Kettlebells are a great substitute for medicine balls and can be modified for medicine ball exercise. You can do kettlebell dips and squat by holding the weight in both hands, squatting until your knees are bent at a 90 degrees angle, and then stand up. Make sure to keep your back straight and your head up for the duration of the squatting motion.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

Kettlebells are super versatile for garage gyms. You can use them for HIIT sessions or muscle-building workouts. On the plus side, you really only have to buy one.

Related Article - How Many Kettlebells Do I Need?

Kettlebell Swings

2. Sand Bags

Sandbags can be thrown and caught like a medicine ball, but they cannot bounce like one. They can be used for a medicine ball wall slam alternative without the slam.

Pick the bag up, slam it to the ground while tightening your core and squatting, then clean the bag back up to your chest by picking it up from both ends. The motion is similar to a regular medicine ball slam but should be done slower because of the awkward shape of a sandbag.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

This is a great DIY option for most people. I used a tough tarp fabric, filled it with sand, cinched the top shut, and got to work lifting my sand bad in the garage. This exercise is also a good alternative to power cleans since the movement is similar.

sand bag exercise

3. Dumbbells

Dumbbell slams can be used if you do not have a medicine ball. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in a neutral grip. Press the weights over your head and slam them down while sitting in a squat position. Keep a hammer grip in the weights and make sure that your knees are far enough apart and you slam in the middle.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

This movement might seem similar to a kettlebell swing, and it is, but the key difference is that with a kettlebell swing your arms are arcing away from your body due to the momentum. With a dumbbell slam, you stop the momentum closer to your body.

Learn More - 18 Single Dumbbell Exercises

dumbbell false slam exercise

4. Stability Balls

Stability balls can often be used for most alternative exercises for medicine ball slams and can sometimes be a good choice if you need less weight. Stability balls are much bouncier, so you can’t slam them into the ground, but they provide weight and resistance for the overall motion.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

Even though you can't slam stability balls as hard as medicine balls, they offer a ton of other core training options such as knee tucks, crunches, and sit ups.

stability ball overhead to squat

5. Cable Machine 

Cable machines can be used to simulate slams too. Attach a rope to the end of the cable and walk back until there is some tension. Then, inhale smoothly, brace your arms overhead, and slam the ropes down while exhaling sharply. Bring your arms to your sides and finish in a squat position. Stand up and reach your arms overhead and start the motion again.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

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.

Required Equipment - 7 Best Cable Crossover Machines

Cable Machine false slam

6. Weight Plates

You can’t slam a weight plate into the ground, but you can use it for medicine ball rotational slam alternatives. Hold the weight plate up next to your head and slowly circle it around your head, keeping your core tight through the motion. Return to the beginning position, rest for a few seconds, then do the motion again.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

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

rotational weight plate exercise

7. Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are a good medicine ball alternative. Hold the ropes in each hand while the ends are anchored to something stationary. Hold your arms up, tighten your core, then slam the ropes down into the group with as much force as possible. End in a semi-squat position, then slowly return to the starting position.

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

This is one of my favorite alternatives since it works the same muscle groups, and you can slam battle ropes as hard as you want without worrying about damaging your body or your gym floor.

Learn More - How To Anchor Battle Ropes At Home

battle ropes

8. Sprinting 

Sprinting is also a simple alternative to medicine ball slams. Doing sets of sprints activates the dynamic muscle response that medicine ball slams do and can be down without any equipment. Sprinting is also excellent cardio, but it can be harsher on the knees than doing slams and squats with a medicine ball.

Related Article - Cardio Vs Free Weights

Garage Gym Pro Training Tip!

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 minutes.

sprinting

Muscles Used in Medicine Ball Slams

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


People Also Ask (FAQs)

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?

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 cardio and weight loss because they engage your entire body. An intense medicine ball session is as cardio-intensive as a run.

Why is it called a Medicine Ball?

The word "medicine" used to be synonymous with "health," and the term medicine ball was used for heavy leather bags of sand people would use to rehab from injury.

What weight medicine ball should I use for abs?

It depends on what results you want, but a good weight for a medicine ball for ab workouts is 8-9 pounds. 


Conclusion

Medicine ball slams are a great exercise, but they may not always be available. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to medicine ball slams that are unjust as effective.