Are you looking for alternatives to medicine ball slams because of limited space, equipment, or shoulder issues? We’ve got you covered!
In this blog, we will discover alternatives that provide similar benefits to medicine ball slams.
They are perfect for injured individuals, those with limited space, or anyone seeking a more functional training approach with or without equipment.
What Is a Medicine Ball Slam and Its Benefits?
Medicine ball slam is a full-body, dynamic, power-building exercise.
It involves lifting a weighted medicine ball from the ground overhead and slamming it explosively into the ground.
It builds strength and power while challenging your cardiovascular fitness too.
Medicine Ball Slam Muscles Worked
Shoulder, upper back, core muscles (rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis), triceps, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Benefits of Medicine Ball Slam
- Burns Fat: This high-intensity exercise helps you burn calories by elevating your heart rate. It boosts your metabolism, which can aid in fat loss.
- Develops Power: The powerful movements engage multiple muscle groups, helping you generate power from head to toe.
- Strengthens the Core: Your core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques, must work together to maintain balance and control. They stabilize your torso and keep you upright through the movement.
- Improves Cardiovascular Fitness: Your heart will beat in your throat, challenging it and the lungs. This will improve lung capacity (Vo2Max), endurance, and stamina. Strengthening the heart can also reduce heart disease.
- Improves Coordination: You need to coordinate your upper and lower body while performing the exercise. Consistent practice of medicine ball slams can enhance your hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and overall body control.
Plyometric medicine ball slams alternatives are perfect for improving explosiveness and power.
They work simultaneously for several muscle groups, making them suitable for repetitive explosive motions (fast-twitch muscle fiber), muscle strength, and endurance.
These are required in everyday movements, like pushing the car when it breaks down. Excuse my experience.
Sports such as martial arts, sprinting, high jumping, and football, to name a few, require explosive power too!
Because of the intense nature of these exercises, they also hold high calorie-burning properties, resulting in weight loss and fat burn!
High-impact exercises, such as plyometrics, can also strengthen bones and improve joint stability, which may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and age-related degenerative conditions.
So if increased sports performance, weight loss, fat burn, or joint health is your goal, sure you will find these exercises helpful! They are also so much fun to do!
1. Swinging Kettlebell Snatch
You only need a piece of kettlebell to complete this exercise. The range of weight options suits people with various fitness levels, including beginners and advanced gym goers. Of course, the correct technique will require patience and much practice!
Last but not least, it improves coordination, power, and full-body strength and prevents training monotony.
Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core, Shoulders
- Stand about with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart and the kettlebell in front of you.
- Bend the knees and hinge your hips to reach the kettlebell ( Keep your shoulders higher than your hips and the hips higher than your knees).
- Brace your core, engage your glutes, and maintain a neutral head and spine!
- Grab the handle of the kettlebell with an overhand grip.
- Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, maintaining a firm grip.
- Explosively extend your hips, driving them forward, and at the same time, pull the kettlebell towards your shoulder, using the momentum to guide it upward and punch it up above the head.
- As the kettlebell reaches the top position, punch your hand through the handle, allowing the kettlebell to rotate and flip over your wrist.
- Extend your arm fully, locking out at the elbow, with the kettlebell directly overhead.
- Inhale at the start of the lift and exhale during the top position of the snatch.
- Perform it for 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps on each side.
If you are new to kettlebells, snatching it over the head with such speed can be scary. Start with a light dumbbell or kettlebell!
When the KB reaches the top position, you need a reasonably relaxed grip to allow the kettlebell to flip and move. However, to avoid bruising when flipping the kettlebell over your wrist, grip it firmly at this point to slow it down.
2. Battle Rope Slams
Bottle rope slams very closely mimic the movement of the medicine ball slamming.
This exercise will light your muscles on fire while using different variations, such as:
- Double Slam
- Single Arm Slam
- Wide or Small Circles
- Slams with Jumps
- Standing or Seated Twisting Slam
It requires minimal practice, making it suitable for all fitness levels. It’s also an excellent tool for burning fat and improving cardiovascular fitness.
Shoulders, back, biceps, traps, quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, and calves.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
- Retract your shoulders, and maintain a neutral head and spinal position.
- Lower yourself into an upper squat with your hips hinged back, torso slightly forward, and knees slightly bent.
- Grab each end of the rope with an underhand grip.
- Powerfully slam the rope down as you squat down.
- Bring the ropes up while squatting up.
- Bring the ropes back up and repeat 4-8 times for 30 seconds
- Breathe in before initiating the movement.
- Exhale as you slam the battle ropes down.
One step at a time! Start with double slams, and add different variations as you get better and fitter.
If you experience shoulder pain, stop the exercise immediately, as you have reached the injured tissue’s ‘tolerance level!’
FURTHER READING: The 10 Best Battle Rope Alternative Exercises
3. Standing Barbell Twists
Performing landmine twists adds a rotational component to your training while providing a similar level of upper body and core activation you would get with medicine ball slamming.
It’s highly versatile and can be adjusted to different fitness levels.
For example, if you are advanced, progressively overload as you get stronger.
Additionally, you can perform it kneeling, increasing the demand for core stability.
If you are a beginner, try Russian Twists with a ball or body weight instead!
Deep core muscles (transversus abdominis), obliques, arms
- Secure the barbell to a landmine attachment.
- Stand in front of the barbell with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold the end of the barbell in both hands securely with your arms extended.
- Engage your core and abs muscles.
- Perform the movement by rotating your upper body to one side, twisting at the waist.
- Allow your hips to pivot naturally with the movement.
- Alternate the sides you twist.
- Exhale as you twist to one side, and inhale as you return to the middle.
- Repeat the movement for 2-3 rounds of 8 twists each way.
4. Box Jumps
Box jumps offer a similar power-building benefit to medicine ball slams. It’s a plyometric exercise that can easily be adjusted to all fitness levels.
If you are a beginner, complete step-ups instead of jumping
It’s also highly functional, mimicking ‘stair climbing’ motion. It strengthens the legs engaged during slamming to a different extent.
Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
- Stand in front of a box (height of your choice)
- With your feet slightly apart, knees soft, and hips hinged somewhat, swing your arms behind you.
- Explosively swing your arms forward, drive your hips into extension, and start springing up, pushing away from the ground.
- Land on the box with soft knees.
- Step back on the ground.
- Repeat for 3 rounds of 30 seconds.
These bodyweight alternatives are ideal for people who prefer training at home, have limited space and equipment, or recover from injuries.
They are suitable for toning up anywhere, even for newbies.
5. Forearm Plank Leg Lifts
While forearm planks work similar muscles to medicine ball slams, they are done with control rather than speed. By lifting one leg at a time off the ground, you are also challenging your balance and stability!
As it engages, your spinal stabilizers and core muscles can aid in better posture and spinal alignment while reducing your chance of lower back pain.
Do this while traveling, watching TV, or outdoors under the sunlight!
Core, shoulders, lower back, quads, hip flexors
- Start on your forearm plank position with your body aligned.
- Raise one leg off the floor while keeping your core and glutes engaged until it’s about hip height.
- Pause on top for a few seconds, then lower it back to the floor
- Repeat with your other leg.
- Breathe in as you lower your leg and exhale as you lift.
- Complete 2-3 sets of 30 seconds.
Avoid pushing your bum too far down, as this places an unnecessary load on the spinal discs. Also, avoid pushing it too high up as you lose core engagement, reducing the strength benefits of the exercise!
6. Jumping Jacks
This cardio-based alternative sure will get your heart rate going, improving your cardio and promoting weight loss.
It’s a low-impact exercise option for beginners that can be completed anytime, anywhere!
Shoulders, core, glutes, quads, and calves.
- Stand with your feet together and arms beside you.
- Jump with the legs hip-width apart, and at the same time, bring both arms up above your head.
- Reverse this movement by returning to the starting position
- Breathe in as you jump apart and out as you jump back with your feet together.
- Repeat for 2-3 rounds of 30 seconds.
To lower the impact of the exercise for those with knee pain, step to the side one leg at a time instead of jumping.
Push-ups are a good strength alternative to medicine ball slams. It can be modified to more explosive and dynamic movements like clapping or side-to-side ball push-ups for advanced athletes.
You can also regress the exercise by kneeling on the ground or incline, using a wall or a chair.
It’s also highly functional and requires minimal equipment!
Chest, shoulder, triceps, and core
- Start in a high-plank position with your arms and legs stretched.
- Lower your body by bending the elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
- Push yourself back up.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Inhale on the way down, and exhale when you press yourself up
Functional Strength Alternatives
Incorporating functional strength alternatives into your routine can support you in daily tasks and activities and enhance your sports performance while also preventing you from injuries.
They improve your coordination, balance, stability, posture, joint mobility, and flexibility.
With all these said, they suit many people, from beginners to athletes and even older adults!
8. Tire SledgeHammer Wood Chops
It’s an anti-rotational exercise that works your full body, or, shall I say, burns your full body?
I don’t want to scare you; they are great but may need a bit of practice!
You should adjust the exercise to your needs by switching the heavier hammer to a lighter one, changing the striking angle, or modifying the stance!
Additionally, you can regress it to cable woodchoppers.
Legs, arms, core, back, glutes, shoulders, and it strengthens your grip!
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Grip the sledgehammer at the end of the handle.
- Start with the sledgehammer over one shoulder, arms extended.
- Swing the sledgehammer diagonally across your body as if chopping wood and slam the tire with it.
- Allow your hips and shoulders to rotate slightly.
- Bring the sledgehammer back to the starting position
- Inhale as you prepare for slamming, and exhale as you slam.
- Repeat for 2-3 rounds of 30 seconds.
9. Single Leg Deadlift
This unilateral strength alternative to medicine ball slams is a great exercise to correct side-to-side imbalances and prevent injuries. You are also challenging balance, which improves proprioception and strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the ankles, knees, and hips.
You improve hip extension, single-leg power, and strength by targeting the gluteus medius through such a controlled movement.
Glutes, Gluteus medius, Core, Erector Spinae
- Stand on one leg with your knees soft.
- Grab a kettlebell or any weight.
- Hinge at the hips; at the same time, lower your torso to the ground, and extend on the leg behind you.
- Your torso and leg should be parallel to the floor without rounding the back!
- Return to the starting position with the same controlled movement.
- Inhale on the way down and exhale as you are coming up.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps on each leg.
FURTHER READING: Top 10 Single-Leg Exercises for Strength, Mass & Athleticism
10. Farmers Walk
Farmer walks mimic real-life movements, like carrying shopping, while engaging muscles similar to medicine ball slams, but in a different aspect.
They elevate your heart rate, making it suitable for conditioning training too.
If you are a beginner, switch to dumbbell or kettlebell carries; single, double arm, or overhead. Progress to a trap bar and heavier load.
Lats, traps, forearms, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Stand in between two kettlebells or the center of the trap bar.
- Pick up the weights, and keep your arms straight throughout the movement.
- Start walking forward with small steps and moving weights as little as possible.
- Continue for 3 rounds of 30 seconds to 1 minute.
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