Little dweeb walks into the gym. He is a senior in high school, he tells me he wants to throw fifty feet this year, but this is only his second year actually throwing. I ask him his background as an athlete, his response was very uninteresting. A very mediocre wrestler and a starting lineman for legitimately the worst football team in the state of Pennsylvania. I stand there looking at him thinking, “This dude wants to throw fifty feet and we have about 3 months to add 10 feet to his PR and he has a very small motor. If Jordan Geist has a Ferrari for an engine, this dude has a two-cycle Stihl weed wacker for an engine.”
That was 2013 and the athlete was Lucas Warning. By the end of his senior year, we got his best throw to 46 feet with the glide. It took time to figure him out, he had a very strange right foot in the middle, a decent understanding of movement but wasn’t overly explosive. He graduated from high school and got wait-listed at Lehigh University, the school he wanted to compete for in track and field. He wouldn’t stop showing up at Garage Strength. He kept coming around, 5-6 days a week, lifting consistently, throwing regularly and always writing love letters to himself in a journal.
By the time he finished his freshman year at Lehigh, he was throwing 16 meters with the 16-pound shot, by the time he finished his career at Lehigh he held the school record at 18.98, was a second-team Division 1 NCAA All-American and one of the best gliders in the US. He graduated, got a job working second shift and had a tough transition year. He still managed to muster a PR and competed at US Indoor nationals and by the end of 2018, he had a mark of 19.51. His second year out of college, he got a job working for Mack track on first shift. A closer job, better hours and a healthier situation altogether. The 6’2, 265lb shot putter worked through some knee struggles and finished the year with a personal best of 19.91/65’3 and is the best glider in the United States.
You are reading that correctly. The kid who I met as a 40 footer and graduated as a 46-foot thrower, worked his butt off to become a 65-foot shot putter, using the glide in a matter of six years. Six years.
The day Lucas hit his 65-foot throw, he also had another PR at 19.65 just prior to hitting the big 19.91. On that day, his best standing throw was 15.80. 15.80!!! Lucas was able to add 4 freaking meters to his standing throw. A feat that very few spinners are able to accomplish, let alone gliders. We are consistently misinformed throughout the throwing world that the glide is dead and worthless. You have to be 6’5 and a freak to throw far with the glide. Or do you?
As you read above, Lucas is 6’2 and 265lbs. His best bench press is 445lbs, his best clean is 170k/373lbs, his best snatch is 137k/300lbs and his best back squat is right around 520lbs while his single leg squat is his most impressive lift at 200k. As a strength coach of numerous, high-performance athletes, my analysis of Lucas’ strength numbers is this...he is strong, not overly strong by any means but relatively strong for his ability. The initial analysis of his standing is that it sucks. His strength is ok, his technique is VERY good but there are a few interesting caveats here. His strength still has quite a bit of room to improve upon, his technique has two glaring issues and from a very simple approach, his standing throw needs to dramatically improve. Ideally, he would have a 17 meter to 17.50 standing throw. This level of standing throw will put him inside the 3 to 3.5 meter conversion period. We may lose about 50 centimeters off his conversion because the world of sports is not a direct linear adaptation. So what the hell can we do to boost his standing throw?
Increase his bench press to 220k to 230k or in American terms 485lbs to 510lbs. We also need to get his snatch to 145k-150k (up to 330lbs) and continue to improve the technical aspect of his right side. This has been the problem his entire career and it’s important to look at technique from a professional perspective. His right side has dramatically improved from his 40 foot days but still maintains to be the weakest point relative to the rest of his movement.
If we can continue to improve his absolute strength while targeting his rate of force development and technical precision, his standing throw should be able to creep into the 17-meter ranges. The difficulty behind this is making sure that Lucas is able to maintain his joint health and that means consistently addressing his mobility patterns in the weight room. Mobility determines movement and health! Lucas has motor control problems within his ankles which have to lead to internal rotation problems in his shoulders which in turn leads to knee issues! The body is an interrelated global system. Improving his standing throw isn’t as simple as just taking more standing throws, we need to make sure we have a full-blown approach to get this beast over the 17-meter line consistently.
Speed = Technique
Many athletes have commented on Lucas’ speed in the circle. It’s important that speed is a result of technical precision. Read that again, speed is a result of technical precision. If someone executes movement with minimal wasted energy, they will move faster through the circle, thus making them “faster.” Lucas has an incredible position of patience coming out of the back of the circle. He drops well, controls speed through the middle and transfers energy very well into the shot. Where does he go wrong and where can we improve?
If Lucas can hold a more plantarflexed right foot in the middle, he will enable himself to remain grounded longer and his right knee will stay flexed longer and hip flexion in his right side will be used more effectively as one of the three rotation points in the glide. This will actually make for a more linear finish that is also more grounded. The improvement of his right ankle/knee and hip will ultimately lead to him throwing over 20-20.50m.
Had Lucas held a better position through the middle of his 19.91 throws and worked a more linear finish, he would have thrown 20 meters but his body was just not ready to make that technical alteration at that point. That’s not an attack on Lucas or his capability but instead an analysis of understanding the process behind becoming a champion. When Lucas holds his plantar flexion longer on his right ankle, he will hold longer right knee flexion longer and will even hold right hip flexion longer which will then lead to slightly more energy transfer when the right knee begins to extend and the right hip begins to extend, making for a better reverse into his right heel holding on the toeboard.
Keys to Lucas’ growth: Right side improvement. Bigger stand. Improve absolute strength and speed-strength.
Check out Lucas's 19.91m throw!
Lucas is arguably the best transformation story in the history of Garage Strength. This is not because he is a freak athlete. He isn’t a freak PHYSICAL athlete, where he is a freak is his mentality. He is strong-willed, focused and makes good decisions (for the most part) on a regular basis. Six days prior to his PR, Lucas and I were in a heated screaming match. Twenty minutes after our spat, he and I put the words behind us and focused on the goal at hand. That’s what makes him great. He is able to handle stress well (for the most part), he is able to see goals through by executing consistent, focused work. No one works as consistently or as hard Lucas Warning. He will become a 20-meter glider and I believe he will go down as the best CLEAN glider in the history of the United States.