Slam Ball vs. Medicine Ball: What is the Difference?

Slam Ball vs. Medicine Ball

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Slam Ball vs. Medicine Ball: What is the Difference? The benefits of incorporating a medicine or a slam ball into your workout are countless. According to the American Council on Exercise, based in California, fitness balls aid in improving personal fitness with an emphasis on muscle power and strength. This type of fitness equipment has its advantages and disadvantages and understanding them can help you incorporate the right one.

A slam ball and a medicine ball can both be found with weights ranging from 2 lbs. to 50 lbs. Their sizes are typically about the size of a softball but some can be larger than a basketball. The sizes and weights differ; therefore, different exercises can be done using them. You can fit them into various exercises like sit-ups, squats, overhead presses, and lunges. They are also great for partner workouts like overhead and chest passes and rotational abdominal exercises.

The main difference between a Medicine ball and a Slam ball is the difference in size and the material they are made with. Both contribute greatly to building strength and resistance and both are used for different exercises. Many fitness instructors recommend using this equipment to add fun and variety to your workout regime.  

In this article, you will understand the detailed differences between the two exercise balls. You can then choose which one is best for you and your workout goals.

DISCLAIMER: We advise you to speak to your fitness trainer before getting started. This is especially important if you suffer from chronic back pain. Those who suffered a shoulder or back injury must consult their trainers and physicians before starting a workout with a fitness ball. For more details, see here.

How does a Slam Ball help in a workout? 

A slam ball is heavy with the exterior coated with rubber. They are used for exercises for defining the muscles of the upper body. Since the surface is thicker than that of a Medicine ball, a slam ball is great for high-impact throwing exercises. According to Dr. Derek of Health & Fitness, a slam ball helps in building your muscle mass, it also increases your metabolism rate making you lose body fat faster.

The common exercise that you can do with a slam ball is the ball slam. If you have any shoulder or neck injuries or you suffer from chronic back pain, take the help of an instructor. These exercises require the use of shoulder and back muscles so guidance is important when you begin.

Slam Ball vs. Medicine

Photo Credit by Anthony Shkraba

Can Everyone Use a Slam Ball?

Even if you have a packed gym routine in place, a slam ball can be incorporated for cardiac exercises and free weights exercises. These are particularly suitable for those who focus on resistance training. Since they are available in weights ranging from 7 lbs. to 33 lbs., they can easily replace free weights. You can do a number of strength exercises using a slam ball.

Slam Ball Exercises

Once you are sure about starting a workout regime using a slam ball, the following exercises are great. They help in toning muscles and building strength and resistance.

Ball Slam

In order to get started with this exercise, stand with your feet apart and raise the slam ball over your head. While you do this, rise on the balls of your feet and throw the ball on the floor. Make sure you throw it a little further away to prevent it from bouncing back to your face. Your arms should be straight while throwing the ball and crunch your abs while doing it. Bend your knees a little and catch the ball again.

Repeat this sequence and concentrate on your breathing. Inhale when you lift the ball and exhale when you throw it. This exercise works on the muscles of your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, quads, glutes, calves, and back. You will also burn more calories and pump your heart rate.

Sit-Ups

Another great exercise that you can do while using a slam ball is sit-ups. They are great for toning your abs and strengthening the muscles. Sit about 6 to 12 feet away from a wall and hold the slam ball at chest level. While you are in the middle of the sit-up, throw the ball against the wall and finish your crunch. Before laying back on the floor, catch the ball in the process.

You can also do this exercise with a partner. Chest pass, overhead, and bounce passes help you work your arms, back, abdomen, and back muscles. Another great advantage of doing this exercise with a partner in improving your hand-eye coordination.

Bulgarian Squat

This exercise helps in improving your legs and abdominal muscles. To do the Bulgarian squats, stand with your feet together in front of the slam ball. Place your right foot on the ball and push it backward. Balance your toes on the ball, apply pressure on your left heel, and do a lunge. Your left leg should form a 90-degree angle. Straighten up until you are standing again in front of the ball. Repeat the squats.

Burpee Slam

A burpee is great for your metabolism but when you do a burpee slam, you work on plenty of muscles at the same time. Stand with the ball to your chest and legs wide apart – ideally wider than shoulder length. Stand on your toes and lift the ball over your head then drop down on your hips and force the ball on the floor. While you are still pressing the ball to the floor, spring back your feet and get yourself into a braced plank position. Get back into the squat position again and move slowly back to the first position. During this burpee, your hand must not leave the ball.

Bear Crawl

A bear crawl refines and tones your shoulder muscles, as it requires you to crawl on the floor like a bear. Keeping your arms and legs straight, crawl from one end of a long room to another. Using a slam ball while doing a bear crawl helps in increasing your resistance. When you do this exercise using a slam ball, you will need to bend your knees a little. Using either of your hands, push the ball as you go forward. Repeat this exercise to strengthen your legs and shoulders muscles.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Slam Ball?

Slam balls are the best exercise equipment for developing power in a workout. They are great for combination exercises and stress-relieving workouts. You can improve your power, cardiovascular health, and reactive strength in both your lower and upper back.

Photo Credit by Jill Rose

Reactive Strength

Reactive strength is produced in the muscles due to contractions after they are stretched during a workout. The elastic strength of the tendons and muscles benefit your workout when the force is released. This is referred to as stretch reflex.

Power Development

Although power and strength training are similar, there is a significant difference in both. When you train for power and strength, you will work on exertion of force. While strength training focuses on your ability to exert force in order to overcome resistance, power training focuses on shortening the time to do the same.

Another difference is that when you train for strength, your focus is on lifting weights and challenging the body. For example, strict push-ups require you to lift your own weight. On the other hand, when you train for power, you use lighter weights in order to work more explosively without any compromise on the techniques.

Other Benefits

1. Slam Ball Toss: when you toss a slam ball with intensity, other muscles fire up along with the shoulders, abs, arms, and legs. The hamstring and glutes are some of them. Overall, your entire neuromuscular system will benefit from this exercise.
2. Cardiovascular Strength: doing a slam ball toss is a lot more challenging than it looks. If you do this exercise in circuits, your heart will pump faster. This sends more oxygen to the tissues in your body improving the endurance and function of your heart.
3. Building Muscles and Burning Fats: slam ball toss is one of the quickest ways of gaining muscles and burning fats. Other time-efficient exercises are jumping rope and pull-ups. The combination of cardiovascular exercises and building the neuromuscular system is quite popular among trainers across the world. This is one reason why using slam ball has become a widespread choice for many.
4. Improvement of Motor Skills: the hip-extension and hand-eye coordination improve greatly with slam ball toss. These core controls develop further while improving overall muscle health.
5. Posture: once you learn the correct way to do this exercise, your posture will improve which helps in daily life. For example, people often strain their backs or lower legs when lifting heavy things. Doing this exercise will help you keep balance without hurting yourself.
6.  Versatility: With a slam ball, you can do many exercises other than the general toss. The benefits are multifold and you can check more exercises here.
7. Stress Relief: if you feel aggressive because of someone or something, there is no better option than to take it out on a slam ball. One of the benefits that people who work out with a slam ball is that they end up in a better mood. The ball will take the hits for you and will not complain. The heavier type made of rubber is the best option for stress relief.

The Disadvantages of a Slam Ball Slam Ball vs. Medicine

As opposed to the many advantages of working out with a slam ball, there are two main turn-offs. First, they are not easy to carry around for outdoor training. You cannot carry them in your backpacks like a jump rope or other light exercise equipment. However, if you have a car, you can toss the ball in the trunk, but if you do not, you will not like hauling it around.

Second, if you live in an apartment, a slam ball toss will be very noisy for your neighbors. Especially if you live on an upper floor with people living in an apartment under yours. On the bright side, if you live in a house that has a basement or a backyard, a slam ball is ideal for you. Once you see the joy of tossing a slam ball on the floor, you will not be able to stop.

You can find customer reviews on Amazon who agree to both the pros and cons of exercising with a slam ball. See what Chaz E. has to say about working out with a 30 lbs. slam ball. According to him, the grip of the ball matters as well as the right weight. He plans to increase the weight of the ball slowly as his workout progresses. If you want to try home workouts using a slam ball, read the tips here.

We have shortlisted the top five Slam ball brands of 2020 to help you decide, they are:

  1. Titan Fitness Slam Ball
  2. Rep V2 Slam Ball
  3. TRX Training Slam Ball
  4. Power Guidance Slam Ball
  5. OneFitWonder 100lb Slam Ball

How does a Medicine Ball help in a workout?

Medicine balls were initially created to aid in physiotherapy and for patients recovering from an injury. The outer layer of a medicine ball is made from thin rubber, plastic, or leather. It is, therefore, impractical to use it for an intense workout. Presently, using a medicine ball has become routine in many light exercises to aid in movement and flexibility.

A medicine ball is versatile as it comes in weights ranging from 3 lbs. to 22 lbs. It is also available in different versions like with handles or straps, inflatable or filled with sand or gel. There are many great exercises you can do to keep your muscles toned and maintain overall fitness.

According to David Punter of BFG Muscle, the following Medicine ball exercises are great for burning fats and building muscle mass.

Photo Credit by Anthony Shkraba

Medicine Ball Exercises

You can use a medicine ball in place of free weights to add a variety to your training. Using this ball is especially great for athletes. You can also include this in your daily workout routine in order to prepare your body for daily movements. The diagonal chop is a popular exercise using a medicine ball.

Diagonal Chop

In a diagonal chop, you stand with feet facing towards a wall while holding the ball in your hands. Move the ball diagonally from above the head to the opposite side on the floor. Move your hips along with the movement of the ball. Repeat on both sides and continue. This diagonal chop exercise helps to tone your arms, chest, back, abdominals, legs, glutes, and oblique muscles.

Body Building Exercise

The medicine ball will prove to be a piece of motivational fitness equipment to your everyday workout regime. All the muscle groups in your body will strengthen and train effectively while giving you flexibility. It is a good idea to use a lighter weight medicine ball to start with and gradually increase the weight. Monitor your progress and see the difference after a few weeks alone.

Abdominal Muscle Exercise

Exercises with the aid of a medicine ball tones your lower limbs like hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and adductors. This also helps in building abdominal and stomach muscles. The most popular exercise using a medicine ball is the chest twist lunges. Hold the ball in your hands and twist your chest while doing a lunge. This will help in toning all the muscles in your upper body. You can do this by standing up or laying on your back.

Physical Preparedness

Several athletes use a medicine ball in order to prepare themselves for certain tricks in sports. The versatility of a medicine ball makes a workout session fun and adds variety. For example, boxers use a medicine ball to prepare their stomach muscles for a blow from the opponent. The athlete lies down on the floor and tenses his or her abs while a partner drops the ball on the stomach. This recreates a fist blow preparing the athlete for the match.

When it is used for other sports, it helps in boosting the speed and accuracy of the movements. It helps overall in proprioception, which is awareness and perception. It helps in identifying the position of the body when a certain action is happening in the surroundings. These are all carefully recreated in order to prepare the athletes before a game.

Explosiveness and Power Building

Like a slam ball, a medicine ball also helps in building power in your muscles. The muscle contractions that follows a stretch, helps in releasing power. It greatly helps in increasing the power of your throws, which you can practice against a wall. You can also try squats while using a medicine ball to increase the power in your muscles and build strength.

Develop Balance and Coordination

If you are looking to improve your coordination and balance, then a medicine ball is a must-have! The best way to improve your coordination is by varying your exercises to throw yourself off-balance. The chest twist to work on your obliques is an ideal exercise for this purpose. It improves your hand-eye coordination, which also results in an improvement in everyday life.

When you choose to do an exercise that is off-balance, you work on your deeper muscles that aid in improving your posture. As a result, you can do other exercises safely that build core stability and give you a stronger back. Using a medicine ball will enable you to work an entire chain of muscles that also builds intermuscular coordination. You will build stronger abs and back muscles and burn more calories.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Medicine Ball?

Slam Ball vs. Medicine Ball 1

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Workout regimes come with trends including tools and equipment that come and go with time. However, over the years, the medicine ball has been a popular choice for fitness professionals, athletes, and physiotherapists. All using it as a tool to aid in achieving a fitness goal. Medicine balls are cheap, easy to use, and easy to store. They are useful for both general exercises and for toning targeted muscles. However, if used incorrectly, they can cause injury.

A gym owner in the United States knows the difference between a Medicine ball and a slam ball. He talks about how it has helped him in training others. Jamie emphasizes on using the Medicine ball correctly and not confusing it with a slam ball. If you slam a medicine ball, it will break. Therefore, it is important to know which exercises are best with a Medicine ball. Read his full review here.

The Advantages of Using a Medicine Ball

  • Easily Available: you can find a medicine ball readily at your local gym or any sports store in your area. If you want one for home use, you can purchase one online. You can find them in all weights and varieties.
  • Challenging: a medicine ball can add variety to your exercises and give you the opportunity to get better at exercises. Hold the ball in your hand while doing squats or lunges to build core muscles. You can also throw it against a wall to generate power in your muscles.
  • Strengthens the Core: during a slam, you need to control the motion, which can only be done when you tighten your core muscles. This includes contracting the hip flexors, obliques, and abdominals. This is a great way of flexing a full range of motion in muscles, especially for athletes.

The Disadvantages of a Medicine Ball

  • Weight: keeping a set goal in mind, the weight of the medicine ball will vary. This can either be a benefit or a drawback. Carrying a heavy ball around for outdoor exercises is not easy.
  • Versatility: you can only benefit from using a medicine ball if you have a training goal in mind. They are great when used for generating power but do not provide greater options like kettlebells, free weight, or resistance bands.
  • Techniques: you will need to learn the right techniques before starting a workout with a medicine ball. You can suffer an injury if you use the ball wrong. Imagine a heavy ball being tossed towards you and injuring your chest? In order to incorporate a medicine ball in your workout routine, you first need to activate your upper extremities.

Tips for Starting

Before you purchase a medicine ball, consider why you are investing in one. If you are looking to add weight to your workout, your choice will be different from a throw or a slam ball. A ball that bounces back to you will be different from the one that stays put when you throw it.

If you are unsure where to begin or which one to buy, consider meeting with a fitness professional. They can help you decide the best weight and type of medicine ball that fits your goal. Starting with simple exercises is the key to your success.

Here are the top Medicine Ball Brands of 2020 you can buy on Amazon to get started. These come in different weights to aid you with your fitness goals.

  1. Valeo Medicine Ball
  2. AmazonBasics Medicine Ball
  3. Tone Fitness Soft Weighted Ball
  4. Cap Barbel Medicine Ball
  5. SPRI Dual Grip Xerball

Which Ball is better for me?

In order to reap the maximum benefits of using a medicine or a slam ball in your workout regime, give your muscles time to relax. Do the mentioned exercises at least four times a week and then get a day off. A day of relaxation allows your muscles to rejuvenate, repair, and recover in order to adapt to the growth of the muscles. As new demands are being placed on muscles, they need time to recover.

Photo Credit by Everlast Store                                     Photo Credit by Alpha Strong

When you continue with these exercises on a regular basis, you will feel the difference after a few weeks. Your muscles will be tender and sore in the beginning but soon will become stronger and defined. You will feel empowered, which will boost not only your physical health but emotional and mental health as well. This feeling is enough to keep you motivated in achieving your fitness goals.

How do they fit in My Workout Goal?

In order to ensure that you pick the right ball for your workout, you need to understand what each one is specifically designed for. The slam ball is for throwing exercises while a medicine ball is simply to aid exercises. The difference in the exterior of each type makes it ideal for purposeful workouts. While you can easily use a slam ball for intensive workouts, you cannot use a medicine ball for that.

Both types of balls help in toning muscles and generating power in them, they are only useful when you have different weight and fitness goals. A medicine ball is more commonly beneficial because it helps in moderate to slightly vigorous workouts. A slam ball, however, is only useful for hardcore athletes.

You can also find a slam ball with a rope running through its center, for swinging exercises. Thus, you can do many exercises by simply using a slam ball. Medicines balls are also manufactured with handles on them making it easy to hold during an exercise.

Choosing a Fitness Ball

While the medicine ball can replace weights like a dumbbell for a difference in feel and angle. Simple crunches while holding the ball will increase your resistance and add to your core strength. They are ideal for targeting hard-to-reach muscle areas by stimulation. Sometimes, lifting weights alone will not get you the toned muscles you desire. A medicine ball will help in achieving that target.

Slam balls concentrate on boosting your functional fitness instead. Throwing a slam ball concentrates on explosive strength that activates all the muscles in your body. Depending on the exercise you are doing, the muscles in your upper and lower body feel the impact. As a result, more power generates in your body giving you toned physic along with improving your cardiovascular health.

Using both the medicine and slam ball helps in improving your posture greatly while burning calories. According to Mira Fit UK, the metabolism rate also increases helping you get rid of unwanted fat. Adding an exercise ball will only help you reach your fitness goals faster. It is the simplest way of enhancing your current workout plan.

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References:

  1. Anupe Gill, (2018). Muscle Stretch Reflex. Tech me Physiology. URL Available on https://teachmephysiology.com/nervous-system/motor-system/muscle-stretch-reflex/
  2. Brian Ward, (2016). 9 Slam Ball Exercises Anyone Can Do (for A Full Body Workout). Workout Digest. URL Available on https://theworkoutdigest.com/slam-ball-exercises/
  3. Max Schmarzo, (2018). Inter and Intra Muscular Coordination. Strong by Science. URL Available on http://strongbyscience.net/2018/07/22/intra-intermuscular-coordination/
  4. Author at Fitr365, (2020). Should‌ ‌you‌ ‌give‌ ‌home‌ ‌workouts‌ ‌a‌ ‌trial?‌ ‌Fitr365. URL Available on https://fitr365.com/should%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8cyou%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8cgive%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8chome%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8cworkouts%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8ca%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8ctrial%e2%80%8c-%e2%80%8c/
  5. Carly Vosacek, (2017). Slam Ball Vs. Medicine Ball. Livestrong. URL Available on https://www.livestrong.com/article/293871-slam-ball-vs-medicine-ball/
  6. Adam Bible, (2019). What’s The Difference: Slam Ball Vs. Medicine Ball. Muscles and Fitness. URL Available on https://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/abs-and-core-exercises/whats-difference-slam-ball-vs-medicine-ball-2/
  7. Writers of Orbit Fitness, (2020). Wall Balls, Slam Balls, Medicine Balls | What’s The Difference? Orbit Fitness. URL Available on https://www.orbitfitness.com.au/blog/wall-balls-slam-balls-medicine-balls-whats-difference
  8. Ben Teal, (2020). The 17 Best Medicine Ball Exercises to Build Muscle and Burn Fat. Ben Teal’s Middle Management. URL Available on http://www.build-muscle-and-burn-fat.com/medicine-ball-exercises.html

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