Try Chris Hemsworth’s Killer Slam-Ball Workout to Challenge Your Entire Body

This simple, yet hard-as-hell slam-ball workout will help you build power and functional strength.

portrait of Chris Hemsworth
Photo: Getty Images

One of the true blessings of social media is the ability to catch glimpses into the daily lives of celebrities, including — but certainly not limited to — the workouts they do. While, sure, sometimes their workouts are appropriately A-list-y (see: Tracee Ellis Ross and the Gyrotonic method), these posts often also serve as refreshing reminders that many of the most effective workouts are ones you can do anywhere and with nothing fancy (see: Jennifer Garner's full-body workout).

This Instagram post from Chris Hemsworth, posted in February 2022, is the perfect example of the latter. Though his muscled-up roles might suggest an inordinate amount of time spent near the weight rack, he posted a killer medicine ball workout from his training app Centr which proves that simple can still be super effective — and, yes, difficult. You'll definitely want to take notes, or straight-up try it yourself.

In his post, Hemsworth cranks through seven exercises using a 16-pound slam ball (aka a medicine ball), and he even included the full workout written out in the caption below. It's gloriously straightforward; you just need the ball, a wall you can slam the ball against, and a will to get breathless.

You run through each of the exercises for just five reps each, rest for two minutes, and then repeat the whole thing again for a total of four rounds. Five reps might not sound like a lot, but judging from Hemsworth's face at the end of the video, it's plenty, even for him. These total-body moves are designed to "build explosive power and strength," wrote Hemsworth in the caption — and that's exactly what a slam ball does best.

"You can get a tremendous full-body, explosive workout with a slam ball," says Andy Stern, NASM-certified personal trainer and vice president of talent and programming at Rumble Boxing. "Great power exercises, such as the ones Hemsworth is demonstrating, target the shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, core, and legs, ultimately making it one of the most effective ways to not only build strength but cardiovascular endurance at the same time. Your body is quickly trying to get enough oxygen to properly repeat the explosion with power, ultimately creating a roller coaster of heart-rate activity," he explains. This type of workout will also "help improve your upper- and lower-body coordination because the entire body needs to work in sync to maximize the power output," adds Stern.

What's more, these power-based exercises can help make activities you do in day-to-day life easier, adds Ingrid Clay, a fitness coach with Centr. "In this workout, the slam ball uses movements [that] you use every day: reaching, squatting, sitting up out of bed, turning and twisting," says Clay. "By mirroring the movements of your daily life, building functional strength can help increase your quality of life and reduce your risk of injury."

How to Add Slam-Ball Workouts to Your Routine

With all those benefits mentioned, it would be understandable if you wanted to grab the nearest slam ball and crank out these exercises — but this isn't an ideal routine for beginner exercisers, notes Stern. "While these moves seem simple by design, without proper coaching of the rotation for the twists or bending of the slams, a beginner can easily injure themselves," he explains.

Here are a couple pointers for safely incorporating this slam-ball workout into your routine:

First Try the Slam-Ball Workout with Just Your Bodyweight

With clients who are new to slam-ball workouts, Clay prefers to start them off doing the routine with just their body weight, which helps them practice the movements and the coordination involved, she says. Once they've nailed the exercises down, she adds in a light weight and gradually builds up from there. "Form is super important, so always learn the correct form before adding any weight," says Clay.

Don't Shy Away from Modifications

When it comes to Hemsworth's workout, "exercises such as side-to-side push-ups are much more of an advanced exercise for someone just starting their fitness journey," he explains. That's where exercise variations come in. To modify that move specifically, you can lower your knees to the floor, or omit the ball and just do push-ups with your hands on the ground.

If the wall slams to the side feel too challenging, start by tapping the ball rather than throwing it with all your strength, and slow down your speed to make floor slams a bit more manageable, suggests Clay. To modify the core-focused moves, scale the sit-ups back to crunches and keep your heels planted on the floor during the Russian twists, says Clay.

For many of the moves, you can also help manage the difficulty by picking the right medicine ball. Speaking of which...

Choose the Right Weight for You

"Going too heavy with the weight of the slam ball isn't necessarily better," says Stern. "There are benefits to using a lighter, more manageable weight so that you can quickly crush through reps, without losing form," he explains. When in doubt, start light and level up if it feels too easy. Keep in mind that "as you get into the later rounds, you may feel that weight get heavier and it may take more time to complete the circuit," adds Stern.

Chris Hemsworth's Functional Slam-Ball Workout

Ready to give Hemsworth's killer slam-ball workout a shot? Follow along with Clay, who demonstrates the exercises below, the next time you want a simple — yet brutal — workout, or simply use it as inspiration to go have an Avengers marathon later. No one will blame you.

How it works: Do 5 reps of each move. When you finish, rest for 2 minutes, then repeat. Do 4 rounds total.

What you'll need: a medicine ball and a wall you can slam it against

Slam Right

A. Stand a few feet away from a wall, facing perpendicular with the wall on the right side of body. Hold a medicine ball in both hands at chest height.

B. Wind up, pulling the ball over to left hip, then throw it directly to the right, slamming it against the wall. Keep core engaged throughout.

C. Catch the ball as it rebounds off the wall, then begin the next rep.

Do 5 reps.

Slam Left

A. Stand a few feet away from a wall, facing perpendicular with the wall on the left side of body. Hold a medicine ball in both hands at chest height.

B. Wind up, pulling the ball over to right hip, then throw it directly to the left, slamming it against the wall. Keep core engaged throughout.

C. Catch the ball as it rebounds off the wall, then begin the next rep.

Do 5 reps.

Floor Slam

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a medicine ball in both hands.

B. Raise the medicine ball overhead, coming onto toes, then exhale and slam the ball down onto the floor between feet.

C. Catch the ball as it rebounds off the floor, then begin the next rep.

Do 5 reps.

Front Squat

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball in both hands at chest height.

B. Hinge at hips and bend knees to lower into a squat, keeping chest tall and knees tracking over toes.

C. Press into feet to stand up and return to the starting position.

Do 5 reps.

Push-Up

A. Start in a high plank position on the floor with hands directly underneath shoulders and legs extended, feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Place right hand on top of a medicine ball underneath right shoulder.

B. Push elbows out so arms form a 45-degree angle to body. Look down to keep neck neutral, engage core, and ensure body forms a straight line from head to toe. Slowly bend at elbows to lower body, stopping about 3 inches above the floor.

C. Push away from the floor to return to the starting position.

D. Step left hand onto the ball under left shoulder and place right hand on the floor directly underneath right shoulder.

E. Push elbows out so arms form a 45-degree angle to body. Look down to keep neck neutral, engage core, and ensure body forms a straight line from head to toe. Slowly bend at elbows to lower body, stopping about 3 inches above the floor.

F. Push away from the floor to return to the starting position.

Do 10 reps, alternating sides.

Sit-Up

A. Lie faceup on the floor with knees bent and heels resting on the ground, holding a medicine ball on chest with both hands.

B. Engage core to drive torso upward toward thighs, pressing the medicine ball overhead.

C. Lower torso and ball back to the floor to return to starting position.

Do 5 reps.

Russian Twist

A. Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of body. Hold a medicine ball in both hands in front of chest.

B. Keeping hips square and core engaged, rotate torso to tap the medicine ball to the floor on the outside of right hip.

C. Immediately rotate the medicine ball to the other side, tapping it to the floor outside left hip.

Do 5 reps per side

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