Strength Training for Throwers
Davin Boydstun and Professor Allen Jackson offer suggestions to increase strength for track athletes who participate in the throwing events.
Every event in collegiate level track and field requires a high degree of speed, strength, and coordination. Strength is that rare attribute that can increase other skills as it is enhanced. Throwers may require the unique strength training regimen of any event in track and field. Athletes in these events need as much of an explosive burst of speed and quickness as an athlete, combined with impeccable balance, and extreme levels of speed and strength (power).
There are a few important variables to focus on when developing these attributes: closed circuit resistance should be the heart of your resistance training, every exercise should have a direct correlation to the event you are training for, and the core is the base for stability in everything you do.
Closed kinetic chain (or closed circuit) training is defined as an exercise where the "proximal extremity moves about fixed distal extremity" (Moses 2009). Every throw, in track and field, is delivered from a position where the body's feet (the distal extremities) are fixed to the ground. Although every throw involves "one-foot" or even "no-feet" phases, the work is done when both feet are on the ground. Thus, closed-circuit resistance becomes the focus of strength training. Throwers have to train their bodies to recruit and activate as many muscle fibres as possible, as quickly and simultaneously as possible from a closed-circuit position.
When correlating a weight training program to the throws it is important to match the lifts to similar muscle firing sequences, explosiveness, power, and angles of the throws. Olympic type lifts should be a staple in a thrower's workout. These lifts start at the ground, working through the legs, incorporating hip thrust, tightening the core, engaging the upper trunk, and ending with all the energy produced exploding through the arms, creating a slight "whipping" motion. There are three basic Olympic lifts: power cleans, snatches, and jerks (deadlift will be included in the power lifts). It has a very similar muscle firing sequence, minus the explosive extension of the arms, and can be done with very heavyweight.
The development of the upper back is crucial to a thrower. These are the heavy lifts where throwers develop their power. These lifts will increase strength in the muscles that are used to throw. Again, throwers should use many variations of these lifts. Some examples are back squats, front squats, box squats, ¾ squats, squat jumps, sumo dead-lift, straight-leg dead-lift, elevated dead-lift, incline bench press, decline bench press, negative bench press, bench press throws, one-arm rows, machine rows, etc. Again, using different angles will stimulate development in the muscles.
The focus of auxiliary lifts should be more muscle-specific and to provide symmetry and balance in the body. Hamstrings, shoulders, and triceps are crucial to throwers; therefore, they should be the main focus. The calves and ankles provide the base and stability for a thrower and should be fully developed.
With the amount of torque that throwers put on their midsections, core training is vital. More specifically, the external obliques should be the focus of core training. The secondary focus should be on the latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, and rectus abdominis.
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About the Authors
Davin Boydstun is a Graduate Assistant working with the Chadron State College track team and is coaching the CSC throwers. After graduation, Davin plans to continue his coaching carrier at the collegian level.
Allen Jackson is an Assistant professor working with the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Chadron State College.