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MASTER CLASS: The Rainbow Slam exercise makes good use of a medicine ball

by Matt Parrott | April 22, 2019 at 2:30 a.m.

Little Rock Racquet Club fitness director Josh Holt does the Rainbow Slam. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

Adding medicine balls to a training program opens myriad exercise options that cannot be easily performed with any other source of resistance.

When leveraged correctly, medicine balls add elements of coordination, balance and fun.

The first, and most obvious way to use them is the toss/catch. There are hundreds of exercises that feature tossing and catching a medicine ball, and most will challenge one's balance, strengthen the core and provide an element of sport.

I recommend the toss/catch for people of all fitness levels, but there is an element of risk for those who have coordination problems. I've seen all sorts of freak injuries associated with tossing and catching the medicine ball, including shots to the face and jammed fingers.

To avoid these, keep the medicine ball light in weight and the tossing slow in speed. That should help.

Another great way to incorporate the medicine ball is partner training. A ball is just the thing to hand off to a partner, and there are plenty of ways to exercise all the major muscle groups using this technique. The best situation to incorporate partner training with the medicine ball is in small groups. The ball adds an element of teamwork and sport to what might otherwise be an awkward interaction with a classmate. It's certainly a great way to meet people.

This week's exercise also highlights the medicine ball's versatility by featuring the "slam." Some medicine balls are designed specifically to perform slams (they're called slam balls), but you can lightly slam almost any type of medicine ball.

The Rainbow Slam is a great way to challenge the core, arms and legs with one big movement that can be altered to fit all fitness levels.

1. Grab a medium/heavy medicine ball and stand with your feet a little beyond shoulder width apart.

2. Extend your arms overhead while holding the ball. Flare your toes outward a little.

3. Quickly rotate your torso to the right and slam the medicine ball on the ground outside your right foot without letting go of the ball. To do this correctly, you'll want to squat down and use your hips and legs as much as possible.

4. Stand back up and take the ball back overhead — but without pausing at the top. Keep going and slam the medicine ball outside your left foot. To do this, you'll rotate your torso to the left and squat down again.

5. Continue this back and forth "rainbow" arc until you've done 12 repetitions.

6. Perform three sets of 12 repetitions.

The Rainbow Slam is a great exercise, but it's very important to be thoroughly warmed up before you start. Because the weight is held far away from the body's core, the core is challenged significantly. The lower back and hip muscles are particularly susceptible to strains if challenged while in a "cold" state. So, hit a little cardio before your rainbow appears. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 04/22/2019

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