4 Best Strength Exercises for Shot Put

Your shot putting distance is stuck. You have gained weight, gained strength, you are taking monster standing throws and STILL can’t figure out why the distances thrown aren’t increasing. There is a huge disconnect between the weight room and the circle.


This is a part of the sport. This is frustrating. It seems like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel that will get you to the promised land of PR’s! What the heck can you do? Are there specific exercises for the shot put that you could be doing that you can add to your arsenal? Are there specific movements that will trigger that huge PR?!?!


What is needed?

During the shot put, a lot happens from a physiological perspective in a very short period of time. In a matter of seconds, there is literally THOUSANDS of pounds of force being generated to apply to the implement. This shows us that a few things are needed to generate a lot of force rapidly. There needs to be a general idea of technical understanding FOLLOWED by a development of speed and strength which then leads to power. The athlete that can apply the most effective amount of power into the implement in the shortest period of time will likely throw the longest!


In a simple ranking, the throwing of the shot put is all about:

  1. Who can coordinate the fastest...

  2. Who has the best technique to be able to coordinate the fastest in optimal positions...

  3. Who can control the power developed in the throw at the finish to enable the energy to optimally transfer into the implement?!?!


We know that technique is imperative. Many coaches also know that strength can have a positive impact on athletes holding technical positions. When the simplicity of the throw is uncovered, it helps coaches and athletes be more aware of specific aspects that will dramatically improve their output.


Exercise #4...The Bench Press

If throwers can improve their bench press, they will see an immediate impact on their upper body force development. The stronger our pecs are, the stronger our shoulders are, the stronger our upper back becomes, the more stable the upper body is, the easier we can develop force! When throwers spend time training PROPERLY and improve their upper body power in an effective manner, the more power they will be able to exhibit into the implement. That’s where the bench press comes into play.


The bench press is the king of the upper body lifts, but HOW MUCH?!?! If you are a post-collegiate shot putter you should be hitting close to or over 500lbs in the bench press. If you are a female post-collegiate thrower, you should be smacking over 300lbs. At the college level, those numbers should be around 400+ for reps and 200+ for easy reps for the women. At the high school level, it’s important to work toward 300-350lbs and 200+lbs for a single rep. These numbers will help you improve your result and strength required to drop those big PR’s! For the general population, utilizing the bench press can go a very long way!




Exercise #3...The Barbell Step Up!


What happens when we come out of the back of the circle during the shot put? Throwers enter into unilateral positioning. Their trunk gets targeted, their groin and back get hit with serious tension and force. This can lead to very precarious positioning with throwers who are not strong in unilateral positions. It can also show strength leaks inside the athlete if their trunk or core is weak as well!


In comes the barbell step up! Not only does this movement dramatically improve unilateral strength, it also develops tremendous coordination between the legs and the trunk. Dynamic Trunk Control is imperative for big throws. By executing the step up, the athlete learns how to drive from the leg while providing a strong foundation of execution from the abs!


Train the unilateral positions and target the trunk during workouts. This will dramatically improve performance and lead to monster throws!


Exercise #2...Push Press


Remember, transferring energy from the ground, through the legs, through the trunk and into the hands is a very important aspect during the push press. This is also a key behind the throw as a shot putter. Follow that up with the transfer of the vertical jump to throwing. We know that throwing is about RAPID COORDINATION. The push press transfers incredibly well to the vertical jump because both of these movements are based around rapid coordination. That is why the transfer is so high for the shot put!





The front racked push press has a better carryover than the behind the neck push press. However, many shot putters are incredibly hypertrophic and have massive muscles and poor wrist mobility. This forces the usage of the behind the neck push press. This variation still carries over tremendously well and can also enhance the thoracic positioning and mobility. Long force development is imperative to big throws in the shot put. A good dip that generates a ton of energy that transfers through the trunk and into our elbow extensors is where we see HUGE carryover to the shot put.


Exercise #1...The Front Squat

Mobility is important in throwing, mobility is important in strength training and proper mobility triggers BIG gains in the weight room. The front squat is a strength movement that can dramatically improve mobility AND strength! Remember, ab strength is important for the throw, as is lower back and hip mobility. The front squat not only improves rapid coordination and strength, it also improves how the core fires in conjunction with other muscle groups.


The front squat forces the abs and mid-back to be very strong. In comparison to the back squat, the front squat also decreases the load on the knees. The front squat also can improve ankle mobility and thoracic extension. These are all key components behind the front squat that will dramatically carry over to PR’s in the circle. Finally, the front squat will also improve the performance of the clean as well which improve rate of coordination and BIGGER BOMBS!


Recap


Understand the detailed nature behind the shot put and the qualities that are necessary to improve the distance on the throw. Start off with the basics, make sure you hammer the step ups and bench press to improve the muscle mass and muscular coordination during the throw. Stabilize the shoulder girdle with push presses and continue to build trunk stability and mobility with the front squat. Hit these lifts 2-3 times a week, depending upon your training schedule and constantly make progress toward bigger bombs!

"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."

- Dane and Trevor



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