Medicine Ball Rainbow Power Slams

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. (more…)

Warrior Series – Dynamic, Multi-plane Warm-up Exercises

The following sequence of three dynamic, multi-plane warm-up exercises has several important functions when preparing to train and compete. First it will increase muscle temperature. Second, it will actively work the muscles of the hips, shoulders and thoracic spine (T-spine) through a full range of motion. Third, it will increase flexibility in the shoulders, hips and thoracic spine (T-spine) and fourth, it will help you move more efficiently. Incorporate these into your daily warm-up routine, especially before throwing a bullpen or taking early batting practice, and you should see an improvement in flexibility and efficiency of movement in the hips, shoulders and T-spine. Start with 5 reps per side of each exercise with a 6-lb MD ball and gradually build to 10 per side. (more…)

A Key Exercise for a More Powerful First Step

There many exercises performance coaches use to exploit power in training sessions, including medicine ball throws, Olympic lifts and the spectrum of Plyometrics. A well thought-out curriculum of training should have all of the aforementioned skills implemented over the course of an athlete’s career. One exercise that has been in my arsenal for years is the “double-leg box blast”. It’s a simple, but complex exercise at the same (more…)

Med Ball Power Slam

The medicine ball slam is an explosive, “toe nails to finger nails”, total body exercise that helps you develop the strength, speed and power needed to efficiently develop, transfer and apply forces from the ground up. Because it is performed from a standing position, it also enhances weight shift, posture, balance and coordination. Improving the ability to transfer power from the lower body through the core is essential for powerful swings and throws. The whip-like movement of the ball as it moves from low to high mimics the loading and exploding movements used in hitting and throwing. This exercise has three movements; 1) start, 2) load and 3) explode. Each movement is described below. (more…)

Are We Running Enough?

At first glance, it sounds like an unnecessary question: “Are we running enough?” If we looked at the unprecedented growth in obesity in North America, the obvious answer would be “no”. However, taking that angle would be considered “easy pickins” as societal obesity is a much more complex problem of lack of education, depression, over-consumption and lack of movement of any kind. Would more running solve the problem? Possibly, but it would be a tough sell (more…)

Hamstring Actions during Running

The hamstrings are active at both the knee and hip during running. The primary function at the knee is eccentric flexion to decelerate knee extension prior to foot contact. The primary actions at the hip are concentric extension and hyperextension to propel the body forward. Flexion at the knee is critical at certain phases of the sprint cycle and less important at others. During the recovery phase of sprinting, for example, as the lead leg is swung forward, the hamstrings contract eccentrically to keep the knee bent to approximately 900. This action by the hamstrings prevents the knee from over extending which will, in turn, cause the runner to land with his foot too far in front of his body, i.e., overstride. Overstriding has been shown to increase stress on the hamstrings, increase the risk of injury and reduce running speed. (more…)

Sled Pushing Technique for Acceleration

Research indicates that two of the most important factors when training to improve acceleration are 1) the angle the body is in when force is applied to the ground and 2) the amount of force applied to the ground. While there are several drills to improve body angle and numerous resistance training and plyometric exercises to improve ground reaction force, one of the simplest and most effective drills to improve both at the same time is the resisted sled push. (more…)

Kneeling Landmine Swing

The Landmine is a great tool to use for total body strength and rotational movements. While there are a number of ways to use the Landmine, one way to engage the upper body more is to perform a swing from your knees. Performing the swing from your knees forces your upper body to do the swing without the aid of the lower body. Due to the fact that the lower body is disengaged a much lighter weight should be used. In order to perform the drill in a safe, effective manner, progress through the following progressive steps.

chase1• Step 1: Position your body parallel to the bar. Kneel down so that the base of the bar is on your left side and grab the bar with both hands using an underhand grip with the top hand and overhand grip with the bottom hand.

• Step 2: Lift the bar up to thigh level. This is the “ready” position.

• Step 3: Move the bar upwards by swinging it away from your body. During the swing, rotate your upper body towards the bar without turning your hips. This will allow for greater core activation and increased range of motion.

• Step 4: Return the bar to the starting position following the same path used in the previous step (Step 3). Perform the prescribed number of reps, switch sides and repeat. Do 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps on each side.

Unlike some Landmine movements this one should be performed using a smooth, controlled tempo in both directions. Another good tip is to turn your head in the direction of the bar as it moves both up and down to allow for greater trunk rotation. Due to the nature of the movements, there will be some slight rotation in the hips, but try to minimize it as much as possible. Keep your core tight and your body upright throughout the movement.

Steve Chase, CSCS, RSCC, is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Detroit Tigers.
Editor note: See accompanying video, Kneeling Landmine Swing on this site.

Plyometric Ankle Jumps for Reactive Calf Strength and Power

Plyometric ankle jumps, also called “ankling” are designed to increase strength in the muscles of the anterior shin, minimize ground contact time and activate the stretch reflex in the muscles of the calf and ankle to increase strength, speed and power when performing linear and lateral movements. Because we are told to land on the ball of the foot when running, many runners mistakenly believe that they should land on the forefoot and then let the heel drop down, i.e., land (more…)