Slam ball tosses and Calisthenics (Benefits & Training Tips)

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Slam balls are one of the best exercises for developing power. I love combining them with calisthenics, especially when I want to have an intense and stress-relieving workout. They improve power, cardiovascular endurance and reactive strength of your lower and upper back, your arms and your abdominals. Reactive strength refers to force produced by a muscle which is stretched right before contraction. This allows you take advantage of your muscles’ and tendons’ elastic qualities and produce more force through the stretch reflex. Nowadays, slam balls have become one of my top three favorite pieces of equipment right after gymnastic rings and jump-ropes.

Slam balls for Power development

Slam balls are a great workout tool for improving power. Power and strength training are similar, but they are not the same thing. They both include the exertion of force, but… while strength focuses on the ability to exert force to overcome resistance – power focuses on the ability to exert force to overcome resistance in the shortest period of time possible. Training for strength requires loads that are challenging for the body (i.e. for most of us that could be lifting our own weight during a strict pull-up). Training for power on the other hand, requires lighter loads that allow us to work more explosively without compromising technique.

Strength and power both complement each other and combining them in your training is a great way to stimulate your muscles in depth (increased muscle fiber recruitment), and build a lean and strong looking physique. As we age, power declines even faster that strength which is why it is an important quality to keep working on as you get older.

Power declines even faster that strength as we age, which is why it is an important quality to keep working on as you get older.


  • Muscles used for a slamball toss: The slam ball toss focuses on reactive strength of your lower and upper back, your arms and your abdominals. Besides these muscles that are the protagonists (muscles that work the hardest), other secondary muscles play an important role as well.  These are your shoulders, forearms, glutes, hamstring. Overall, I feel my whole neuromuscular system firing up when I do this exercise intensely
  • Cardiovascular conditioning: Slam ball tosses can make your whole workout a lot more challenging, especially when included as a station in circuits. They can quickly elevate your heart-rate which makes your heart, lungs and blood vessels work harder to deliver oxygen to your body’s tissues. This improves cardiovascular function and endurance.
  • Build muscle & burn fat: Circuits that alternate high intensity (i.e. jumping rope), power (i.e. slam ball tosses) and strength (i.e. pull-ups) oriented exercises, are the most time-efficient way to train when it comes to gaining muscle, definition and burning fat in a short amount of time. By challenging both the cardiovascular and the neuromuscular systems (your heart & the rest of your muscles), they maximize energy expenditure and fat burn. These kinds of workouts have become the core of our training here at Bodyweight Muscle.
  • Improved motor skills & Athleticism: Slam balls are great for improving basic motor skills such as hip-extension, eye to hand coordination and core control. As you get used to them, try to grab the ball fast after it bounces once on the floor – without looking down.
  • Posture: Learning to perform slam ball tosses also teaches you proper posture that can transfer to daily tasks such as picking heavy things of the floor without stressing sensitive joints such as your knees and your lower back.
  • Versatility: Slam ball tosses are my favorite exercise and what I mostly use these balls for. But there are a lot of more exercises you can do with them. Do a google search and you’ll find more than you need.
  • Stress/aggression relief: There’s nothing like a good dynamic workout with slam ball tosses to blow off some steam! If you’re stressed, angry at someone or simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed – you can always take it out on the slam ball. During such days, the heavy rubber ball can become your best friend… it will take the hits for you, it will never talk back and it will never judge you.

slamming a rubber ball explosively against the ground just feels great!


Especially for the those who favor bodyweight-based workouts and like to travel light, slam balls have two disadvantages. For starters, they’re not that practical to carry around due to their weight. Unlike gymnastic rings and jump ropes, it’s not that practical to carry them around in your backpack and go train outdoors. If you have a car, you can simply toss them in the trunk. Since I love training outdoors, I always have a slam ball available in my trunk. 

Their second disadvantage, is that if you train at home and you live in an apartment with neighbors (especially if they live below you) they can be way too noisy to slam on the floor. I don’t see this being a problem if you have a basement or a yard though.  These disadvantages aside, slamming a rubber ball explosively on the ground just feels great and if you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should!

In the next post, I’ll share with you an intermediate and advanced workouts you can do that combine gymnastic rings with jump ropes and slam balls!