Are you strong in the weight room but struggle to transfer that strength to the discus throw? Maybe you have great technique but can't get enough power behind the implement? That's where special strength comes in. Special strength is the bridge between throwing in the circle and raw weightroom strength.
For example, 2020 Olympic finalist Sam Mattis has benched 515lbs, front squated 500lbs, jerked 500lbs, and push press 440lbs, but how does that strength transfer to discus throwing? There are other strength athletes that can lift similar weights but can't throw 66 meters in the discus. Obviously, years of technique training are fundamental to Sam's success, however, there still needs to be a bridge between benching 500lbs to transfer that strength into throwing 220 feet. That is where our 4 best special strength exercises for discus come into play.
4. Bowling Pin Stands
The bowling pin standing throw is one method to heavy, overloaded, discus standing throws. Throwers can also use throw balls, discus tools, iron bars, or anything 3-6lbs that can be thrown like a discus. By taking 20+ bowling pin standing throws at the end of a throwing session, the thrower can cement the feeling of a strong finish into their nervous system.
The advantage of the heavy stand is that is an easy way to get a lot of reps rapidly if you are throwing into a wall or a net. Taking heavy throws allows the thrower to move weight faster, teach them how to overcome greater resistance on the finish of the throw. Make sure proper stand throw technique is being used while throwing the bowling pin, but make the focus of the exercise accelerating the weight as fast and as strong as possible through the finish.
3. Kettlebell Throws
Approach this exercise with caution. It is a powerful movement, but should not be performed with young throwers unless a very light (<5lbs) kettlebell is used. We actually took this exercise from 67m Belgian thrower Philip Melanov who tosses a 10k (22lb) kettlebell from a full throw. For most throwers, however, we suggest using a 10-15lb kettlebell and starting from a standing throw or a half turn, and then gradually working up to a full throw.
Extremely heavy throws like the kettlebell throw can help to feel positions more deeply in the throw, similar to throwing super heavy shot puts, and force the thrower to being more intentional about the movements they are making in the circle in order to overcome the resistance of the implement. Again use caution with kettlebell throws especially if you have any pec problems or soreness, and only use 1-2 times per week for about 10-15 throws.
2. Side Medball Throws
Side medicine ball throws are a staple exercise for our throwers here at Throws University. They are one of the best exercises out there to develop rotational strength through the torso that will transfer into discus throwing.
For this exercise, use a 10-15lb medicine ball and perform 10 reps per side for 3-4 sets to get the most benefit from them. Think about holding the arms long, and accelerate the ball from the core, not by swinging or pushing the ball with the arms. Perform the exercise rapidly, slamming the med ball into the wall, catching, and going immediately into the next rep.
1. Banded Stand Throws
Banded stands throws are our favorite special strength exercise for discus throwers. They not only provide resistance to the finish of the throw, but provide greater resistance through the release, forcing the thrower to be more active with their core and more intentional with their movement, just like they would be accelerating the implement through the release.
Find a band (like ourPowerLastic bands) that are high resistance, but easy enough that the thrower can stretch them the entire way through the finish. Perform 10 reps for 3-4 sets, focusing specifically on the action of the dominant side rotating through the finish and the torso staying stable with a strong dominant arm.
Pick 1-2 of these exercises and perform them consistently through the week or through a training block before cycling into the next exercise. By incorporating special strength movements into your training, you will learn to accelerate the implement faster and apply more of your strength to the throw! If you would like to find out firsthand how we build these exercises into our throwers' training programs, check out our Elite Shot and Discus Program HERE!
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- Dane and Trevor