How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do For Results?

Medicine ball slams are not only a great exercise to defuse some pent-up aggression or frustration but also a highly effective exercise to add to your strength training routine by building dynamic power, explosive strength, coordination, and even speed.

When creating your workouts, you may wonder: how many medicine ball slams should I do to increase power and strength? Or how many medicine ball slams should I do as a beginner?

In this workout guide, we will explain how to do medicine ball slams and ultimately answer your question: how many medicine ball slams should I do based on my fitness level and training goals?

Let’s jump in!

A medicine ball slam.

How Do You Do Medicine Ball Slams?

Before we look at how many med ball slams to do for power, strength, and other training goals, let’s discuss how to do medicine ball slams and the benefits of med ball slams.

Be sure to use a medicine ball that does not bounce, or be prepared to catch it (and protect your face!) if you use one that does.

Here are the steps for how to do a basic medicine ball slam:

How To Perform A Medicine Ball Slam

  1. Stand upright with good posture, holding a medicine ball straight up overhead. Ensure that your feet are spaced hip-width apart, your core and glutes are engaged, your chest is up, and your weight is distributed evenly between both feet.
  2. Hinge forward slightly at your hips and allow a soft bend in your knees (unlocked but not bent like a squat).
  3. Forcefully drive the medicine ball down into the ground, releasing it and slamming it down to the floor directly in front of you.  
  4. Follow through with your arms so that they are fully extended and travel back behind your body with momentum as if you are preparing to jump after you have released the slam ball.
  5. Quickly squat down by bending your hips and knees and sitting your butt back so that you can pick up the ball from its slight bounce and then explode up by straightening your legs (pressing through your heels to perform a triple extension of your ankles, knees, and hips).
  6. Thrust your arms straight up overhead so that you are back in the upright starting position, ready to do the next med ball slam rep.

There are different ways that you can progress med ball slam exercises or add variations.

You can perform full squats, you can add a burpee or a vertical jump after you slam the ball, or you can thrust the medicine ball into a rebounder or the wall instead of the floor, to name a few.

As with most exercises, there isn’t a single best version of med ball slams.

Rather, incorporating different medicine ball slam exercises in your medicine ball workouts or dynamic power workouts is a good way to reap the varied benefits of med ball slam exercises.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do For Results?

When deciding how many med ball slams you should do, you have to consider the number of med ball reps per set as well as the weight of the medicine ball you are going to use for med ball slams.

All of these factors play into the training volume for your medicine ball slam workouts.

Medicine balls.

How Heavy Should a Medicine Ball Be for Slams?

So, what’s a good weight for medicine ball slams? In other words, how heavy should the medicine ball be for medicine ball slam exercises?

For beginners, the easiest way to make med ball slam workouts less taxing and scaled to a beginner level is to use a lighter slam ball.

There isn’t a specific weight for the medicine ball or slam ball that will necessarily be appropriate for all beginners.

Your sex, body size, strength level, and age will all affect how heavy the medicine ball should be when you first start medicine ball slam workouts.

Petite individuals, older seniors, and those in poor physical condition can start with a 5-pound medicine ball or a 2 kg medicine ball for medicine ball slams.

An 8-pound medicine ball or a 3kg medicine ball would work well for beginners with a little more strength.

Medicine balls.

Then, as your power, fitness level, strength, and body size increase, you will use heavier medicine balls for med ball slam workouts, particularly if you are trying to build explosive power and strength.

When your training goal is to increase explosive power and strength, you will perform fewer med ball slam reps in a row, but you will perform them with a heavier slam ball and as vigorously and dynamically as possible.1Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Franco-Márquez, F., Pareja-Blanco, F., Mora-Custodio, R., Yáñez-García, J. M., González-Suárez, J. M., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2016). Effects of 6 Weeks Resistance Training Combined With Plyometric and Speed Exercises on Physical Performance of Pre-Peak-Height-Velocity Soccer Players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance11(2), 240–246. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0176

‌In contrast, if you are doing med ball slam workouts for speed and agility or for cardio or metcon workouts, you should stick with a light to moderately heavy medicine ball such as 8 to 10 pounds or 4 kg.

Then, try to do a higher number of med ball slam reps in a row, all at a rapid pace.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do Based On My Goals?

But, what is a good number of medicine ball slams to do for these different fitness goals and training levels?

There aren’t specific guidelines in terms of how many reps you should do for exercises like medicine ball slams, but it is important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of a dynamic exercise like this one is to increase power, explosive strength, and heart rate.

Therefore, the goal should always be to prioritize maintaining a high intensity rather than a high number of reps for med ball slams.

The only exception to this would be if you are primarily doing med ball slams as an alternative to some other type of cardio exercise rather than trying to be as explosive.

Here are a couple of recommendations for how many medicine ball slams to do based on your training goal and fitness level:

A squat with a medicine ball.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do As A Beginner?

Beginners should try to do 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 medicine ball slams with a relatively light medicine ball. 

Err on the “too light“ side at first and then go heavier after a few workouts after you know that you are using the right technique.

Build up to 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 medicine ball slams before you increase the med ball weight.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do For Power Training?

Use a heavy medicine ball for power training, and be as forceful and explosive with your slams as possible.

Perform 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 6 medicine ball slams with at least two minutes of rest in between each set.

A medicine ball slam.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do For Strength?

The recommendations for strength are similar to those for power, but you can use a slightly lighter medicine ball and do a few more reps per set.

Consider doing 4 to 6 sets of 4 to 8 medicine ball slams. Again, you will want to take about two minutes of rest between each set.

Don’t compromise your form or your intensity by trying to do more reps in a set.

If you get tired or the intensity is dropping, stop the set and take a longer rest break, or use a lighter medicine ball for subsequent sets.

How Many Medicine Ball Slams Should I Do for Cardio or HIIT Workouts?

If your goal is cardio conditioning or you are doing medicine ball slams in HIIT workouts, consider going for time instead of reps so that you don’t have to count.

Start with 20-second sets and build up to 30 seconds.

Medicine balls.

Eventually, you might do longer sets (like 45 to 60 seconds), depending on the structure of your workouts and the weight of the medicine ball.

A fantastic metabolic conditioning workout with medicine ball slams would be a Tabata-style workout where you would do 8×20 seconds of all-out med ball slams and then 10 seconds of rest after each interval.

In just four minutes, you’ll have your heart rate up at nearly your maximum, and you will certainly be breathing hard.

Studies have even found that medicine ball exercises can provide a cardio workout similar to traditional aerobic exercises like running and swimming.2FAIGENBAUM, A. D., KANG, J., RATAMESS, N. A., FARRELL, A., ELLIS, N., VOUGHT, I., & BUSH, J. (2018). Acute Cardiometabolic Responses to Medicine Ball Interval Training in Children. International Journal of Exercise Science11(4), 886–899. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033503/

‌For other dynamic exercises, check out our kettlebell workout guide.

kettlebells.

References

  • 1
    Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Franco-Márquez, F., Pareja-Blanco, F., Mora-Custodio, R., Yáñez-García, J. M., González-Suárez, J. M., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2016). Effects of 6 Weeks Resistance Training Combined With Plyometric and Speed Exercises on Physical Performance of Pre-Peak-Height-Velocity Soccer Players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance11(2), 240–246. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0176
  • 2
    FAIGENBAUM, A. D., KANG, J., RATAMESS, N. A., FARRELL, A., ELLIS, N., VOUGHT, I., & BUSH, J. (2018). Acute Cardiometabolic Responses to Medicine Ball Interval Training in Children. International Journal of Exercise Science11(4), 886–899. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033503/
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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