When you look at a slam ball, leg and glute exercises may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But incorporating this soft weighted ball into your booty routine will work your lower half hard. Weak hamstrings, glutes and hips can lead to knee and back pain. So if you’re looking for a way to strengthen these muscles, while building power, the slam ball can kill two birds with one big, squishy ball.
Gerren Liles, PROJECT by Equinox master trainer and Reebok ONE Elite ambassador likes to use it for a quick leg workout. “The slam ball is a simple tool that allows you to move in multiple dimensions and directions, and can serve as a load to develop strength and power,” Liles says.
In addition to tightening and toning, the slam ball creates an unstable environment that forces your body to work harder to balance weight. (Stability challenge, anyone?) And because you’ll move in different planes of motion, you’ll work your core, legs and arms, too.
“The ball can be used as a prop to challenge your stability, as you’ll see in the Bulgarian squat and soccer tap drill. It can also be used as a form of resistance in the squat with front push and hamstring curls,” Liles explains. Check out just how versatile this space-efficient piece of equipment can be in the six exercises below.
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6 Slam Ball Exercises That Build Lower-Body Strength
These moves will not only blast your lower half, they’ll help improve your ankle mobility, agility and reflexes. Add some intensity, and they’ll get your heart rate up, too, Liles says. Do 8 to 10 reps of each exercise for two sets.
1. Bulgarian Squat
This variation of the squat challenges your balance. To keep your foot from rolling off the ball, engage your core so you can move with more control, Liles says.
How to: Stand with your feet together in front of a slam ball. Step your right foot back and place your toes on top of the ball (a). Keeping your weight in your left heel, slowly lower your body into a lunge, bending your right knee towards the floor. Your left knee should form a 90-degree angle to the floor. Be sure your left knee is stacked above your ankle (b). Straighten both legs and return to standing (c).
RELATED: 6 Squat Variations for Total-Body Strength
2. Lying Hip Bridge With Hamstring Curl
Take your glute bridges to the next level with this variation that also strengthens your hamstrings. The lack of surface area on the ball is an added challenge to making the movement slower.
How to: Lay on your back with your hips lifted off the floor and your calves and heels on top of the ball. Plant your hands on the floor at your sides (a). Draw your heels in toward your butt with control, bending your legs. Your hips should elevate even higher as you squeeze your glutes to bring your heels in (b). Slowly extend your legs back out to the starting position (c).
3. Lying Quad Extension
Your quads, hamstrings and glutes are some of the biggest muscles groups in your body. This simple move fires up all three, helping you torch more calories per workout.
How to: Lie flat on your back and place the ball between your calves with your knees bent. For an added core challenge, you can lift your head off the floor and bring your chin towards your chest (a). Without moving your hips, bring your legs straight up towards the ceiling (b). Then, bend your knees until the ball touches the back of your legs. Remember to press your low-back into the floor throughout the entire movement (c).
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4. Squat With Front Push
Want to practice proper squat form? The front push in this variation helps keep your body in alignment as you drop into a squat. It also forces you to use your core to stay upright throughout the movement.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and hold onto the ball with both hands close to your chest (a). Sit into a squat with your weight in your heels, as you simultaneously press the ball away from your chest. Maintain a neutral spine at the bottom of the movement (b). Stand up and return to the starting position with the ball at your chest (c).
5. Soccer Taps
Quick feet has new meaning with this soccer-inspired agility drill. Toe taps will help you improve ankle mobility and reaction time, while getting your heart rate up.
How to: Stand with your feet together, ball in front of you (a). Tap the top of the ball with each foot as you move 360 degrees around the ball (b). Go for 20-30 seconds in a clockwise direction, and then repeat in the counterclockwise direction (c).
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6. Lying Hamstring Curls
Weak hamstrings can trigger a whole host of other injuries. But by building lower-body strength with exercises like this one, you can create a more stable foundation that’s less injury prone.
How to: Lie belly-down on an exercise step or bench and squeeze a ball between your calves, legs straight behind you (a). Bend your knees, bringing the ball towards your backside, and then straighten back out to the starting position. Keep your chest and eyes down throughout the entire movement so there’s no strain on your neck (b).