Throwers love heading to the weight room, they love smashing a couple of squats, a few bench presses, throw in some box jumps and get out of the gym. But is this really what lifting is all about? Is it that simple? There are 650 muscles in the human body, all of which can have a positive contribution to the throws. What are the best methods a thrower can use to improve their structural integrity? What is the best way to attack each area to prevent mechanical breakdown?
Purpose of Assistance/Accessory Movements
Accessory movements can be used for various reasons. They can be used as warm-ups to optimize the function of each joint, they can also be used to address any problem areas that may potentially arise in various athletes. At times, assistance exercises can be paired with BIG compound movements to potentiate any problem areas and increase intermuscular coordination. These unique exercises can also be used on their own to finish a training session and build a solid structural base that will enhance the long term performance of the thrower. The key is figuring out HOW to utilize these movements and what the best movements are for throwers!
Throwers have very common issues, simply because of the nature of the sport. By understanding joint functions and the pathways used during the throw, coaches will be able to assess what areas could lead to injuries in the future by comprehending the patterns and then comparing those patterns with the individual thrower’s movement scheme. This will dramatically improve injury prediction which will lead to injury prevention as the programming is developed. The goal for throwers is to get very strong and explosive but the number ONE goal must be based around keeping the thrower healthy to enable the athlete to get thousands upon thousands of throws!
In our book, Kinetic Comprehension, we spent hours upon hours understanding the joint movements and biomechanics behind the spin, the discus and the glide. The biomechanics analysis that we developed has enhanced our training model and programs because we now can compare effective biomechanics with the structural patterning of our on-site throwers. By understanding this model and comparing the thrower’s movement with proper biomechanics, we have created a strong list of consistent accessory/assistance exercises that every single thrower we work with seems to find a massive benefit from!
Throwers must be mobile. They must carry strong mobility in their hips, their lower back, their groin and throughout their upper back as well. The groin has always been a notorious problem area, particularly for spinners and discus throwers who are taking 200-300 throws a week. The lengthening of the dominant leg out of the back the stress on the non-dominant leg can bring some serious stress to these areas.
Cossack squats can dramatically improve the mobility of the hips, the groin and even the ankle joint. By strengthening this pattern, the athlete will hit new depth in their squats and they will have an increased level of confidence in their sweep leg to the middle. This movement is best utilized as a warm-up or at the end of a training day with a light load, such as a dumbbell.
DB External Rotation
Throwers love benching. They love smashing big upper body lifts. At ThrowsU, we also love using overhead lifts, such as the snatch and behind the neck jerk. These movements can provide quite a bit of stress to the shoulders IF the shoulder region is not stable. By creating a stable foundation for the scapula and rotator cuff, we have noticed a dramatic increase in overall shoulder stability.
By using a slow eccentric and a full range of motion, the thrower can improve one of the weakest points in the upper body which in turn will lead to greater weights overhead! We prefer to use DB’s from a seated position or standing position. The external rotation can be supersetted with bench press or other pressing movements which can enhance the performance of the shoulder. At times, we also use this movement as a warm-up or even at the end of a training session to increase blood flow to the area.
A classic mainstay at Garage Strength and ThrowsU, this is one of the best upper body accessory movements in our toolbox. The miracle gro lengthens the triceps, it lengthens the lats and even puts significant stress on the abs. As the lifter improves their miracle gro, they will increase their thoracic spine stability AND mobility, ultimately leading to greater performance.
Many throwers struggle with the front rack in the clean because of their muscle mass developed over the many years of training. This lift can improve the front rack because of the lengthening period the lats undergo. Along with improved lat functioning, the entire trunk learns how to coordinate more effectively from the ABs into the lats and triceps, leading to improved performance overhead.
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Throwers are big, they love pressing movements, they love feeling YOKED...but they hate doing pull ups. This leads to severe internal rotation in many throwers which creates a chain reaction of poor patterning. The thrower that is more internally rotated will have more pec stress over time, this can lead to pec strains and even pec tears. Hitting some simple pull ups or lots of rows will increase the performance of the upper body and create a great level of structural integrity.
Deficit Split Squats
This hasn’t always been a mainstay in the ThrowsU programming but lately, we have seen this movement put a ton of ease on the lower body. Deficit split squats can increase hip mobility, they can alleviate knee pain by mobilizing the quad coordination and because of hip mobility improvements, the split squat also loosen up the lower back.
This exercise is incredible for gliders AND a great way to improve mobility in all throwers. If the hips open up more over time, the sweep leg will improve dramatically and there will be significantly more activation from the legs out of the back of the circle. This will also help the thrower to “catch” the implement deeper, creating a longer acceleration period.
Throwing is a sport with lots of lifting, lots of overhead work and TONS of rotational stress. This can lead to problems with glute firing, hamstring activation and coordination of the posterior chain. One of the best accessory lifts that we use in every single on-site program is the Reverse Hyper!
By improving the lower back strength and mobility, the thrower will be able to decelerate implements faster at the front of the circle leading to bigger throws! This needs to happen BUT the thrower needs to have the strength to hold these positions and the reverse hypers can get the work done.
Accessory movements can be viewed as the glue that holds everything together. By understanding movement patterns, coaches and athletes are able to see problem areas that may arise and then they are able to pick the corrective exercises needed to improve positions and patterning. When joint stability improves and mobility is enhanced, throws performance dramatically increases, leading to greater rates of force production and bigger throws!