Medicine Ball Slams

by Dan Staton, MS, PES, CrossFit Level II Coach


Yet another fall season is rapidly approaching us, my adventure-seeking mountaineering amigos!  Let’s cut out the intro dialogue and get straight to the point. Are you in the necessary condition to get out there and tackle your flavor of adventure? As you read this, I should either be in Nevada at 10,000 feet hunting for alpine mule deer, or chasing after elk in the early season of Idaho.  My year-round fitness consistency will begin to pay off as the days begin to add up in the high country … mental fatigue will subside because I’ve been through worse during my workouts… whining or barking muscles will remain mute as I hike to yet another vantage point. I’ll be more effective in the field. There’s nowhere I can’t go, and I have the confidence that the most important piece of my gear – ME – will perform!  

If any of this language is unfamiliar, then take heed: Get Serious, Get Fit! Last I checked, the critters we love to hunt don’t get a day off, nor do they work in an office with air conditioning and an ergonomically correct chair.  If you waited until now to think about some gym time or a little cut back from junk food, there must be a change. Here’s a workout designed for in-season training to keep you on your game – or at least to spark a little interest in honing your general physical preparedness (GPP).

Medicine Ball Slams aren’t going to win you any points with the staff of your local health club, but they do amazing things for your body. The slam improves the reactive strength of your back and abdominal muscles. These are the same muscles that will guide you through the hills and mountains, support the pack you take along with you, and provide for a sturdy platform as you draw your bow. All you need is a non-bouncy medicine ball and the right technique. The medicine ball that I use is a 20 lb. Dynamax. Just Google “Dynamax” it if you need to invest in one.

Medicine Ball Slam Instructions:
•    Stand on the balls of your feet (at hip width), and elevate your heels.  Hold a non-bouncy medicine ball over your head and look straight ahead. Your back, knees and ankles should be fully extended. Hollowing the back is OK, just don't don't arch your back too much. However, the back must not be hollowed when you reach the lowest point of the movement. The elbows are almost extended. Look straight ahead and inhale before you slam your medicine ball down the first time.
•    Throw the ball down so that it touches the floor two feet from your feet. Exhale at the same time. You have to round your back as you move down, so that your abs work as if you were doing a crunch. Keep your arms straight, but don't fully extend your elbows. At the end your heels should be on the floor and your knees should be bent. The movement of the arms comes from the back muscles.
•    Let the ball bounce off the floor and catch it when it comes back up. By now, your lungs should be starving for air. If your ball doesn't bounce at all, maintain this position for a second and keep your abs contracted. Then pick it up and lift it again.
•    Lift the ball to the same position where you started from, and inhale. Extend your legs, lift your heels, etc. Then perform another slam, exhale, round your back and contract your abs.

Slam Notes:
•    Before you do your first set, test the bounciness of your medicine ball.
•    Be aware that if you aren't doing this with a non-bouncy medicine ball, the ball could bounce back up into your face. If you're doing your slams with a normal medicine ball, don't throw it straight down. Throw it forward a bit.

The Workout:
Start a stopwatch and perform the following for time.
15 wall ball slams, 1 pull-up
14 wall ball slams, 2 pull-ups
13 wall ball slams, 3 pull-ups,
 etc. until you reach…
1 wall ball slam, 15 pull-ups

Visit Dan Staton’s Website at www.sportsmansfitness.com.

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