Two new balls were added to this chart in our latest refresh, helping to bring the article up to date for 2021.
We added the impressive Nordic Lifting Dead Weight Slam Ball, as well as a popular medicine ball option – the SPRI Dual-Grip Xerball.
The humble weighted ball is a powerful fitness tool that has truly stood the test of time, dating back as far as Ancient Persia!
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These weighted balls are favored by both casual fitness users and professional athletes looking to increase strength, coordination, power and explosiveness. This is why they are an essential part of any CrossFit box, commercial gym or home setup.
Whether you are looking to buy a slam ball, medicine ball or both, this article will guide you through the ins and outs of weighted balls, removing the guesswork and helping you find the right fit for you.
First, we will take a look at seven of the best medicine balls and slam balls on the market, before diving into a complete buyer’s guide and FAQ section, offering you all the info you need to know before making an informed decision.
If ever there was an award for best-looking slam ball, this one from Yes4All would probably take it! It features an ergonomic triangular pattern with a distinctive blend of both glossy and matte sections. In short, the grip on this one rocks!
The shell is made from a durable black PVC, which will stand up to plenty of abuse as you slam and throw it around. The one-year warranty is a reassuring backup, should something go wrong.
This ball comes in a range of sizes to cater for all kinds of ability. You can go as low as 10lbs right up to a heavier 40lbs, mostly in increments of 5lbs. For the price, this is a great choice!
Ever worry your slam ball may… well, burst? There are no such fears with this in-demand dead weight slam ball from Nordic Lifting.
Featuring a durable heavy-duty rubber shell, this premium ball is designed to be burst-proof, so it will hold up regardless of how hard you slam. Adding to this reassurance is a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, so go nuts!
Each ball is filled with a fine iron sand up to the specified weight. On that note, there is a wide range of weights available, from 4lbs up to the full 45lbs. The balls all feature weight markings and a unique triangular tread on the exterior, providing excellent grip no matter where you are using it.
TRX Training may be a big name in the suspension training market, but their range of heavy-duty slam balls are some of the best around, offering commercial-grade performance. Perfect for both gyms and CrossFit, as well as home use.
These quality sand-filled balls feature a thick rubber skin that is both very durable and absorbs impact, so there’s no bounce back, no matter how hard you slam.
Most notably, the surface is coated with hundreds of multidirectional raised tread bumps to enhance your grip. This is particularly useful when you venture into the heavier end of the market – TRX Training offers this ball from a beginner-friendly 6lb right up to a hefty 50lb option.
Rogue products are often seen in CrossFit boxes, so it makes sense that they produce a pretty great CrossFit slam ball – namely, the Echo collection.
These balls feature a strong build with a classic rubberized grip and distinctive red color. There are many choices when it comes to weights, allowing you to tailor the load to meet your needs – from 10lbs up to 50lbs, in increments of 5lbs.
The durability is what sells this ball. Rogue has tested these balls thoroughly, so you can be sure they will last as you slam them to within an inch of their lives! In fact, the brand is so confident of this durability, they offer a generous two-year warranty with each one.
BalanceFrom offers medicine balls and wall balls, but it’s their popular slam balls that we are featuring in this article. This is another no-nonsense option that will fit as well in the CrossFit box as it would at home.
One of the biggest selling points for this ball is that it comes in a great range of weights to accommodate any ability level and any goal. There’s a relatively lightweight 6lb ball right up to a hefty 100lb ball – not for the faint hearted!
This ball features a thick black rubber shell and the commonly-used multidirectional tread to enhance grip. This makes it a very durable ball regardless of what you use it for. However, the money-back guarantee is an added reassurance.
If you are looking for a medicine ball instead of a slam ball, this popular offering from Champion Sports may appeal – especially if you value the aesthetics of your fitness gear!
With a cool retro style and multiple color options (depending on the weight), this ball is made with a thick synthetic leather cover and quality stitching. This makes it comfortable to hold and easy to control during your workout, but equally very durable.
It features a decent price, although is slightly higher than some others. The main issue is that the weights are nicely incremented in kilograms, but vaguer when it comes to pounds (for example, the 7kg ball is listed as between ‘14lb and 15lbs’). Otherwise, it’s a great choice!
This ultra-popular medicine ball from SPRI features dual handles on either side of the ball, which opens up more movements. You can use it for regular med ball moves, as well as ab exercises, pushups and front raises. In fact, it can even be used for kettlebell swings.
As with other medicine balls, the Xerball features a durable hard rubber shell, with a bumpy texture across the surface for enhanced traction and better grip.
You can find this ball available in a wide range of weights, from 6lbs right up to 20lbs – each clearly marked with the weight on the side. The price is a little steeper than others, but it still feels worth the cash for a high-quality item.
A medicine ball is a popular training tool, and has been since the Ancient Persians used to stuff animal bladders with sand and toss them around. These days, medicine balls – and their popular cousin, slam balls – are a lot more refined and a lot less disgusting!
Not to be confused with inflatable exercise balls (i.e. Swiss balls), medicine and slam balls can be found in any good gym or CrossFit box, and are excellent tools for developing balance, coordination, power, explosiveness and core strength.
However, in addition to commercial use, slam balls and medicine balls are just as popular with home users looking to add another tool to their fitness arsenal, alongside dumbbells, kettlebells and good battle ropes.
If this is you and you are looking to buy a new weighted ball, make sure to read the following sections, which will guide you through the things to look out for before parting with your cash.
When it comes to design, you can split these weighted fitness balls into two categories – medicine balls (which bounce) and slam balls (which do not bounce). More on this below. You will also come across wall balls, which are not covered in depth in this article.
It is important to choose the correct ball, because buying the wrong kind of ball can be counterproductive at best, dangerous at worst. Ultimately, you can slam a no-bounce slam ball as hard as you like to the ground, effectively working your entire upper body. However, do the same with a bouncy medicine ball, and you risk a broken nose as the ball potentially bounces back up into your face!
Traditionally, a medicine or slam ball is roughly the size of a soccer ball or basketball, and will come in a multitude of weights. You will find that some brands offer consistent sizes regardless of the weight, while others produce smaller balls for lighter weights and larger sizes for heavier weights.
As for shape, while slam balls are pretty much always round, it is common to find medicine balls with slightly different profiles. For example, some will offer a pair of integrated handles or fabric handles attached to the surface.
These handles may not interest you if throwing and catching the ball is your main movement. However, for exercises where you hold the ball for sustained periods – such as performing Russian Twists, toe touches, crunches, or other core exercises – handles allow you to get a much better grip on the ball, as well as hold the ball in different ways.
Some medicine balls may go as far as adding an external handle to the exterior of the ball, blurring the line between medicine ball and kettlebell (…kettleball?). However, the actual usefulness of such an item is still up for debate.
Finally, let’s talk aesthetics. This is another point that may not interest you, considering the performance should always be paramount.
However, both slam balls and medicine balls come in different designs, whether no-nonsense and all-black, or retro and eye-catching. Some balls also come in different colors besides black, which is useful if you have a home gym and want your equipment to match (hey, we’re not judging!).
On the topic of colors, many manufacturers will color code their balls to represent different weights (i.e. 5lb is red, 10lb is blue, 20lb is yellow, and so on). This is particularly useful if you are buying multiple balls for your home gym.
The material the ball is made of will largely determine how it performs, although – as mentioned – the ball will have a specific purpose: to bounce or not to bounce.
A no-bounce slam ball is almost exclusively made with a thick rubber shell that stands up to constant high force as it impacts the ground.
Medicine balls also commonly feature a rubber skin, although you can also find them made from leather, synthetic leather, nylon, vinyl and even plastic.
For both medicine and slam balls, rubber skins will often be textured to increase grip. This may be as simple as dots (akin to a basketball) or as prominent as raised multidirectional tread, which enhances grip incredibly.
Both slam balls and medicine balls come in a wide range of weights to cater for a wide range of movements and users.
The exact weight selection will depend on the manufacturer of the ball. Some balls may just come in three or four weights, while others may come in 12 or more weight choices.
The actual weights offered will differ depending on the manufacturer, although typically you will find both styles of ball in weights ranging from a beginner-friendly 4lb right up a mammoth 100lb (usually a slam ball)!
What weight you choose is up to you, although don’t dive straight in and grab the heaviest ball you can find, as it will probably be counterproductive and could result in injury.
In short, you will want a weight that will slow your movement, but not at the cost of good form. For more on selecting the right weight for you, check out the FAQ section below.
Weight is added to these balls in multiple ways. In a slam ball, the manufacturer will usually stuff the ball with sand or iron filings, which both increases the weight and helps the ball absorb force, so it doesn’t bounce or roll when slammed to the ground.
Medicine balls, on the other hand, are often simply inflated with air, which helps the ball retain its round shape and improves the springiness for moves that require bouncing.
We have touched upon this earlier in our buyer’s guide, although let’s clarify the difference between medicine balls and slam balls.
Firstly, both styles of ball have similarities. Of course, they are both weighted balls that are typically the size of a soccer ball, although some will be smaller and some larger.
Both styles of balls can be used for static holding during exercises such as squats, lunges, overhead presses and core work (such as crunches and rotational passes to a workout partner).
However, there are differences. The main one being that medicine balls are designed to bounce while slam balls are designed to stop dead as soon as they hit the ground.
Slam balls are also built with thicker rubber and are incredibly durable. They are therefore naturally well-suited for ball slams (where you lift the ball above your head, slam it into the ground, before picking the ball up and repeating).
Medicine balls are perhaps more versatile than slam balls, although they are are not designed to be thrown against a hard surface. As they are usually filled with air and generally springier in nature, they are prone to bouncing off in different directions, which is obviously dangerous.
In an ideal world, you would buy both a slam ball and a medicine ball, although if you can only afford one, try to determine what you want to achieve with your ball.
If you are buying a ball to throw explosively – whether at the ground or to a partner – a slam ball will be your best option. If you are looking for a ball for weightlifting, core exercises, passing to a partner (for rotational twists) or to use for press-ups, a medicine ball will be the smarter choice.
If you have used a slam ball in CrossFit or at the gym and are sold on buying one for your home workouts, then that’s great – but how do you pick the right one for you?
Firstly, you should determine the weight you require. You don’t want to be slamming something too light that feels like a soccer ball for 100 reps – that’s a waste of time. On the flip side, going in and buying a 90lb slam ball will be pointless if you can’t even lift it off the ground!
There are no written rules about what weight you should pick. It is recommended that you should aim for a ball that is heavy enough to slow your movement, but not so heavy that it causes you to break good form.
With medicine balls, it is often suggested that you use a ball of around 30% to 50% of your one-rep max (1RM) on a similar exercise. By this we mean that if your one-rep max on a barbell overhead press is 40lb, an appropriate medicine or slam ball for you would be around 15lb to 20lbs. Don’t know your 1RM? Check out our free one-rep max calculator!
This very general advice works if you are buying a ball mainly to use for squats, lunges and other exercises with which you could use a dumbbell. However, if you are looking to slam the ball, then this advice may not be suitable as there is no corresponding dumbbell/barbell exercise.
In this case, use a weight that you can perform around 8 to 12 reps with, but no more. Ultimately, you would want to be struggling to complete the 12th rep with good form. If this is the case, this is the right weight for you.
We know that a slam ball is designed to be slammed into the ground at high velocity. But what about a medicine ball?
While medicine balls may be poor for slamming due to their tendency to bounce, they are great for many other things in the fitness world. There’s a reason this simple weighted ball has been a gym staple for centuries!
Firstly, you can use it to replicate movements you would usually do with dumbbells and barbells (and even kettlebells, if your medicine ball has handles). This may include squats, lunges, overhead presses and front raises to name a few.
Using a ball allows you to take advantage of different grips and stimulate your muscles in different ways – providing the ball is heavy enough to be a challenge.
Unlike a dumbbell, a medicine ball is also capable of safely being tossed, thrown and caught – for example, to a workout partner or against a wall. This can help you develop explosive power, which is key for sportspeople and athletes.
Medicine balls are also traditionally used for core movements – for example, using them for exercises such as crunches, woodchoppers, toe touches, and Russian Twists (all easier with balls that have integrated handles by the way).
You can also use the ball to add instability to movements such as planks, press ups, reverse planks, and mountain climbers.
Providing you can use your imagination – or follow hundreds of online medicine ball workouts – then you will never find yourself out of uses for your new medicine ball!
A ball slam is a key movement in CrossFit, helping you build strength and power in your upper body and core, while also being a pretty good cardio exercise too. So how do you do one?
Place your feet shoulder-width apart with the slam ball (don’t use a bouncy medicine ball) on the floor in front of you. Then squat down with a straight back, pick up the ball and stand up. As you stand, lift the ball above your head so that your arms are fully extended. At this point, engage your core and slam the ball down onto the floor as forcefully as you can. This is one rep.
To add slams to your existing workout, you should aim to perform around three sets of 8 to 15 reps. For CrossFit, simply follow the reps prescribed in your WOD.
As you become stronger, you should increase the reps per set as well as the weight of the ball you use. You can also add in variations, such as burpee ball slams – an exhausting move incorporating a burpee in between each slam of the ball.
Be sure to warm up thoroughly before starting a ball slam session. Also, ensure you are wearing a pair of closed-toe shoes for some foot protection – a good pair of CrossFit shoes will usually do the job.
Whether you are looking to hurl a slam ball or twist with a medicine ball, we hope this article has given you all you need to make the right decision on a ball for you.
Whatever you are buying, don’t rush your decision and end up lumbered with a weighted ball you won’t or cannot use!
Browse our chart for some inspiration, then take the information in our guide with you as you go shopping. Don’t forget to come back and thank us when you have a core of steel!