Updated: Apr 23
You head over to the weight room, all you can dream about is throwing further and hitting that monstrous throw. The feeling of the shot or disc flying off your hand, the weightlessness, the emotional experience, the power output, everything culminates into one MONSTROUS throw. But how can you get to that point? You are still stuck in the weight room, not sure where you can even start! What can you do?
Purpose of the Weight Room
For starters, I believe it is very important to actually recognize the purpose behind the weight room. The purpose may be different for different throwers. World-class throwers may search for slightly different adaptations in the weight room than a high school thrower. For the purpose of this blog, let’s focus entirely on the high school thrower.
Generally speaking, the weight room should have four main focuses for the high school thrower.
General strength gains
Improvement of mobility
Dynamic strength gains
There are numerous other benefits that the weight room provides such as injury prevention and enhancing muscle mass but the top four reasons should completely guide the program development. By taking those four reasons, the coach is then able to deduce what FIVE main movements are best for improving the throws performance.
In no particular order, these are the top five main movements we use at Throws University to improve the strength of our high school throwers.
This is definitely a bonus order of lifts. We use Olympic lifts with athletes from the age of 7 all the way through the masters ranks. When we specify Olympic lifts, this would mean anything along these lines: snatch, snatch variations (power snatch/hang snatch/muscle snatch), clean, clean variations (box cleans, power cleans, hang cleans) and then any jerk variations (behind neck jerk, push press, jerk pause in split).
The Olympic lifts should be taught properly, they should be understood clearly and executed with technical precision. If we can think back to our four reasons for using the weight room, the Olympic lifts covers all four of those areas.
We have seen high schoolers dramatically enhance their coordination and strength and mobility and dynamic force just by learning how to implement the Olifts into their throws!
The Almighty! The BENCH PRESS! But seriously, let’s review some simple science. In 2007/2008, I trained under Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk. He is regarded as one of the greatest throws coaches and strength coaches to have ever walked the planet. Having won an Olympic title himself and coached 18 different Olympic medalists, Dr. B knew how to be successful.
During my time with Dr. B, he had shown me some research regarding the discus and shot put. Originally, his science had shown him that an increase in the bench press can lead to gains in the shot put as far as 16.50 meters with the 16lbs shot for men. In the discus, improvements in the bench press carried over all the way to 60 meters. Something he pointed out to me directly was that he had started to see a positive correlation with the bench press from 16.50 meters all the way to 19 meters with the 16lb shot.
What’s that mean? Get your bench press stronger and your throws will get longer! (Up to 19m and 60m!)
At ThrowsU, we have seen a tremendous correlation between our best benchers in regards to also being our absolute best throwers!
The back squat is incredible for improving mobility, increasing dynamic strength (jump carryover), general strength and through muscular coordination. The back squat is incredibly challenging and part of the reason I love this movement is because it also improves the Olympic lifts!
The squat should be executed with a high bar placement on the shoulders through a full range of motion. This full range of motion will improve structural balance and could eliminate any areas of tightness and poorly functioning muscles. If you ever find yourself struggling to do something in the weight room, I challenge you to head under the bar and hit 10 sets of 5 reps on the back squat. Your workout will be phenomenal and the gains incredible!
Single Leg Squat
I love the single leg squat. I especially love the single leg squat for high school throwers. Often times our high schoolers struggle to hold stable positions unilaterally. The single leg squat enhances their torso stability while also dramatically increasing their posterior chain leg strength.
Many high school throwers also tend to glide and I believe that the single leg squat is the best movement to improve the drop and drive position out of the back of the circle in the glide. This movement also increases mobility throughout the hip girdle, leading to greater coordination on the finish of the throw!
One other major benefactor behind the single leg squat is it’s carryover to other athletic movements. This lift enhances speed and unilateral jumping ability as well. Any throwers that we have that compete in other sports will typically do a greater amount of single leg squatting. This strength carries over to other sports and helps them dominate their outside sports as well!
Clap Push Ups
I know what you’re thinking. Really, push ups? Clap push ups are that good? YES! Many high schoolers might hit a plateau or be stagnant with their bench press. Other high school throwers struggle to really POP with their bench press. They aren’t sure how to make the movement super dynamic. Along comes the clap push ups!
In our high school throwers, we will keep clap push ups in their program until they are able to execute five sets of 15 clap push ups without any issues. Until they reach that point, we continue to keep the movement in their programming!
We have seen athletes increase their bench press by over 30 pounds just by increasing their clap push up output! Imagine that, you get to the point of doing five sets of 10 clap push ups and you get an extra 30 pounds on your bench, JUST because you learned how to do a dynamic upper body lift.
Take this awesome dynamic movement and throw it into a well periodized program and all of a sudden, you can see the thrower hitting HUGE standing throws.
Throwing must always be the priority in strength training but while that is happening there must be a simple idea of what the goals in the weight room are and what are the best ways to accomplish those goals. If you can create a plan with these five exercises, you will be thrilled with the results that the big strength gains will provide! Stay tuned for the best accessory movements coming next week!