If you’ve been in the crossfit game for more than 5 years you know that this modern incarnation of crossfit, watched by millions on ESPN, bears little resemblance to it’s underground garage gym origins. Likewise, the workouts and even the movement selection has changed just as dramatically. This article will cover one of the lost movements of crossfit and show you that just because something isn’t popular doesn’t mean it can’t benefit you. Keep reading to find out which movement you are missing.
I know the suspense is killing you, but take heart and be glad, the movement I’m speaking of is the slam ball. What!? Who even knows what that is? Slam ball is an old school movement that used to be common place in the crossfit lexicon, and rightly so. It’s a great movement for a variety of reasons.
Most crossfitters do a bit of rowing, jump rope, or possible running (I know yuck) for their warm up. They might follow that up with some light stretching, which all in all isn’t a bad warm up, but I submit to you that a slam ball is better.
One, ball slams are much more similar movement pattern to the majority of crossfit movements. It involves bracing the core, and extending the hips, which are the same patterns found in all squats, olympic lifts, and any pulling movement from the ground. So don’t be afraid to throw these into your warm up routine.
One complaint I have about crossfit movements is that they are almost always in the same plane, i.e moving weights up and down. Almost none require us to move a load from side to side, except slam ball. You can do ball passes side to side with a partner, or do them ballistically for distance. Either way transverse movement is a key for all athletes.
I also like to program these movements into wods to lower the intensity. I know I just blew your mind, with that last statement, but let me explain. Not all wods need to be killers, especially if you are a higher level athlete. Some workouts need to be moderately intense, and some just need to get the blood flowing. The slam ball is a great movement to throw into a wod because you really can’t go very fast with it. Its like a wall ball. There’s only a certain speed that the movement can be executed.
Picking the Right Equipment
I personally use balls from a company called Rep Fitness. I’ve found them to be very durable and reasonably priced. The most important aspect of any slam ball is durability, and theirs are roughly twice as thick as most you will find. They are also warrantied for three years of personal use and one year of commercial use.
I use a 30lb ball, but they sell up to a 100lb. I have to admit a 100lb ball would be a great substitution for stone loading, which is probably the most functional movement there is.
Give Rep Fitness a try and I think you’ll be surprised how useful their slam balls are. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own movements as well. You’ll be surprised how often you tend to use it once you understand just how versatile a tool it is.