If you are looking to build a kick-ass home gym, you really should consider a slam ball in your arsenal of equipment. A slam ball is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for core training, strength, and conditioning.
Best of all, many of the exercises you can perform with them will be fun too—even if they will work you hard! A slam ball can also be a great way of relieving some of your stress at the end of a hard day, as you slam away with explosive power.
What’s the difference between a medicine ball, a slam ball or even a wall ball, you may be asking? Let’s take a look at the subtle differences between each before taking a look at five of the best slam balls.
What is a slam ball?
Slam balls are large rubber balls that have been specifically designed for throwing or other dynamic exercises. The outer shell of the ball will normally be made of a hard but pliable rubber, which can withstand vigorous impact with harder surfaces.
Of the three weighted balls used for exercise purposes, a slam ball will usually be the heaviest and the most durable. A slam ball is more suited to outdoor surfaces, like concrete, sand, or grass.
They are solid balls and they don’t have much rebound, if any. This ensures you’ll definitely get a good work out.
The following clip demonstrates a ball slam. This popular exercise with a slam ball engages your core while being good for shoulder health and power training.
You will often see a slam or throw done with a medicine ball, but the tougher non-bouncing slam ball is a safer choice. You can put more force into the throw without fear of the ball splitting or bouncing back up at you.
How does a slam ball differ from a medicine ball (or ‘wall ball’)?
The differences are very subtle. A medicine ball will normally be made of a leather fabric and a wall ball will have more bounce. If you’d like read more about those, I’ve written a guide to the best medicine balls
Although a medicine ball can also be made of plastic or rubber, it will normally be softer and slightly larger in diameter. Medicine balls are more likely to bounce when tossed against a wall or slammed to the floor. The heavy weight means that they may damage the wall quicker than it damages the ball.
A wall ball gets its name from the primary move in CrossFit of the wall ball shot. The exterior of a wall ball will be made with a soft vinyl coating which is much softer than a medicine ball or slam ball. The weight is evenly distributed in a wall ball, but using them to slam can quickly wear down even the best wall balls.
The benefits of a slam ball
Weighted balls like a slam ball are quite unpopular with CrossFit enthusiasts and general gym users. Not because they are ineffective, but for exactly the opposite reason. Weighted balls are so effective at engaging multiple muscle groups and require so much strength and endurance, they can be absolutely exhausting.
Slam ball exercise, in particular, works out your abs, shoulders, arms, glutes, quad, and back muscles. Being so tough, you can slam the ball as hard as humanly possible to develop more explosive power, or rate of force development (RFD). Athletes who have higher RFD perform better in physical performance tests.
As athletes, we don’t often perform moves that focus on a downward throw with the activation of the lats and other body parts in a slamming motion. Slam balls are used for this, but they are also effective for rotational strength. Rotational slings that support your body have been shown to be critical for long-term health and will improve your sports performance.
What to look for
The best slam ball is one which is heavy enough to double up as a medicine ball yet dense enough for repeated slamming without bursting. It should be available in a variety of weights, easy to grip, and extra durable.
Weight is the most decisive factor when considering the best slam ball for you. How heavy the ball is will affect the resistance and difficulty of any exercises you perform with the ball. You need a weight you can handle but also one that allows you to develop your strength and skill.
Another important factor is the size, or diameter, of the slam ball. The size will determine how comfortable the ball will be to use and how easy it is to grip. Try a few slam balls down at your local gym or fitness center to help you decide what size and weight are best for you.
Finally, the shell of the ball will also influence how easy it is to grip, as well as how durable it is. A thicker shell can affect how much the ball bounces, with CrossFit exercises needing the minimum of bounce. Textured rubber will tend to be the most durable and also feature better grip.
Considering all the factors looked at above, I have researched and found what I consider to be the best slam balls you can currently buy. Most aren’t too expensive, so if you’re unsure what weight to go for, start with a lower weight and work up. Buying a 50-pound ball to start with will limit what exercises you can do with it.
This slam ball from TRX is great quality, with a heavy-duty, rugged outer shell for easy grip even as you start to sweat. TRX says it should withstand all manner of use and abuse, backed up with a 1-year warranty.
The inside of the ball is sand, which gives it a dead bounce. The balls can be inflated with air to give a little extra diameter, but it doesn’t improve the bounce—not that you want that with a slam ball.
- Great grip with a deep tread
- Textured and designed to absorb impact as it hits the ground
- Backed with a one-year warranty and exceptional customer service
- The sand can shift inside, making it more difficult to handle
Titan Fitness is well known for its quality home gym equipment, and these slam balls are no exception. They’re made of a thick rubber shell that can take an absolute beating from any surface, even concrete.
The sand-filled interior is well balanced and ensures no bounce, with heavier weights in particular pancaking when they hit the ground.
The only concern with this quality slam ball is the slightly larger diameter, which could be uncomfortable for smaller users. You can let some air out of the ball for a smaller feel, but this can throw the ball’s balance off.
- One of the hardiest and most durable slam balls you can get
- A wide range of weights, from 10 pounds to 60 pounds
- Won’t roll away when in use
- The larger diameter of the ball can be prohibitive for smaller athletes
- No advertised warranty
The Power Guidance slam ball looks very similar to the TRX ball reviewed earlier, with the same grooved and rugged outer shell. However, the range is much more limited, with slam balls only available in weights up to 30 pounds. A long-lasting PVC shell is advertised as not marking your floors, which can be important in home gyms.
Some people may not like the “squish” of this ball, which means it might deform too much and be more difficult to use for some exercises. There is a trade-off though, with less bounce the ball will be harder to break or damage.
- Squishy and extra durable
- Textured for easy grip
- Literally no bounce
- The limited maximum weight of 30 pounds may not suit everybody’s needs
- The 20- and 30-pound balls have slightly larger diameters, which can be difficult to hold
This second version of the Rep Fitness slam ball has a 50 percent thicker shell, with a reinforced air nozzle to withstand even more abuse. They are available in the widest range of weights of any slam balls we’ve looked at, all the way up to a 70-pound ball.
The thick rubber shell maintains all the sand in the center of the ball, for the least bounce possible and no chance of it breaking.
- A wide range of weights to suit all users, even the power athletes
- Outstanding quality backed with a 12-month warranty for home users or a 6-month warranty for commercial gyms
- Textured rubber gives a better grip
- Although the manufacturer advertises a 100-pound ball, weights over 70 pounds are difficult to find
- Balls over 30 pounds have a larger diameter and are difficult to hold
If you’re just looking for a straightforward slam ball at a budget price, the Valor Fitness could be the ideal choice for you. The thick black rubber shell features a glossy look, which tends to keep itself clean in an otherwise unremarkable look. The surface is textured for easier grip but nowhere near as pronounced as other models.
Available in weights ranging from 10 to 50 pounds, it’s one of the cheaper models on the market and offers great value for money. It is still highly durable, though, and features minimal bounce with its sand-filled center.
- Affordable pricing model. Great for beginners who may need to trade up as their strength develops
- Textured rubber grip prevents slipping, even with sweaty hands
- Large, easy-to-read weight number in the center of the ball
- Resistant against heavy use with dense rubber shell
- No warranty advertised, even on the manufacturer’s website
- Sand in the ball can move and cause imbalance over time
In order to get the most from your training, you’re going to need the best equipment. Although a slam ball makes a great replacement for a medicine ball, it doesn’t always work the other way around—too much force will just cause a medicine ball to split.
In my opinion, the best slam ball you can currently buy is the TRX Training Slam Ball. Its extra durable shell and rugged grip make it easier to slam with more force, knowing it’s not going to break.
With a product as simple as this, it’s a case of knowing it’s a well-made product with customer service that backs it up.