Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning


Medicine Ball Rainbow Power Slam Options

By Eric Telly, BA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

In an earlier posting (Medicine Ball Power Slam), the MD ball slam was recommended as an explosive, “toe nails to finger nails”, total body exercise that helps develop the strength, speed and power needed to efficiently develop, transfer and apply forces from the ground up. While the power slam is an excellent total body exercise that should be included in everyone’s tool box, it is a single plane exercise with all movement occurring in the sagittal plane. Because most movements in game situations utilize multi-joint, multi-plane movements, adding lateral and twisting rainbows to your tool box will let you do power work in different planes of movement.

Lateral Rainbows. Lateral rainbows are performed in the frontal plane, twisting rainbows in the transvers plane. In both exercises, the ball is moved in a rainbow-like pattern over the head prior to the slam. To perform lateral rainbows, stand in an athletic position with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing straight ahead. Hold a 6-pound MD ball in both hands above the head. Set the abs, inhale and then perform a circular motion by pulling the ball down to below waist level, outside the left hip, and slam it to the ground outside your left foot. Keep your chest up and core tight throughout the exercise. Exhale as you slam the ball downward. Catch the ball as waist height as it bounces off the floor and repeat. This is one rep. Perform 5-6 reps and repeat on the opposite side. Start with 3 sets of 5-6 reps with a 6-pound rubber ball. Progress to 5 sets of 5-6 reps with a 10-pound ball. Rest approximately 1 to 2 minutes between sets.

Alternating Lateral Rainbows. For variety, alternate slamming the ball from side-to-side on each rep while standing still or while walking forward. When performing walking rainbow slams, slam the ball outside the trail (rear leg) on each step.

Twisting Rainbows. The movements in the twisting rainbow are similar to those in the lateral rainbow, except that you twist the hips and upper body in one direction as you bring the ball down and around in a circular motion and in the opposite direction as you slam it down outside the opposite foot. Twist to the right when setting up to throw from the right side and twist to the left as you slam the ball down outside the left foot. You can perform all reps on one side, alternate sides on each rep or alternate slams on each side as you walk forward. When performing walking twist slams, slam the ball outside the lead leg on each step.

Rainbow Shuffles. You can also create a little upper and lower body rhythm by performing rainbows with a lateral shuffle. To execute this move, slam the ball down outside the left foot, quickly shuffle two steps to the left, catch the rebound and then slam it down to the right side followed by two quick shuffle steps. Continue to alternate slams and shuffles to each side until you have performed 5-6 reps on each side.
See the video “Side-to-Side MD Ball Rainbow Power Slams” that accompanies this article.

Eric Telly, BA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT is a Sports Performance Coach at Landow Performance in Centinneal, CO.

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