Although it falls under the “track and field” umbrella and is grouped together with many sports that place their emphasis on cardiovascular endurance, throwing requires an immense amount of explosive strength. The power used in all throwing events, including discus and shot put, comes from a complicated, full-body motion that allows every ounce of your effort to be channeled into your throw. Regardless of what technique you favor, then, whether you throw with a glide or a ration, all throwers can benefit from a well-designed strength training routine.
Building the Workout
It’s true that you will likely experience benefits from following a general weight lifting routine but this type of training could still leave something lacking for the thrower. Since it doesn’t mimic the movement, and therefore the stress on your body, of a throw you could be risking an injury.
A functional routine, however, would copy what your body experiences during a throw and thus give it an opportunity to adapt. So, in designing your workouts, break your technique down into stages and select a series of exercises that simulate each stage.
For example, your obliques and other muscles of your core are key in the rotation, as are those in your hips. But your arms, chest and shoulders each play a vital role in the final steps of the throw. By selecting exercises for each of these muscle groups that expose it to what you will expect of it during the actual throw, you make a focused effort that allows each muscle to strengthen in very precise ways.
Strength isn’t the only aspect to consider, though. Flexibility and overall range of motion come into play as well. In the same vein, well-chosen exercises will copy the movement that each joint will experience during a throw.
Simply put: pick exercises that look and feel like a throw.
While you can be creative with your training and utilize whatever resistance you have available to you, the most obvious choice is the medicine ball. These large, weighted balls will build your dexterity and grip in addition to the benefits we’ve just discussed.
One challenging, but effective exercise is the wall bounce. Grab a medicine ball and standing facing a sturdy wall. With a safe distance between you and the wall, throw the ball with a two-handed push, stepping forward with one leg. If you’re right-handed, step with your left and visa versa. The goal is the throw the ball with enough force to make it bounce off the wall so that you can catch the rebound. Start out light and gradually increase the weight of the ball.
A similar drill can be performed with a partner by passing the ball forcefully and quickly between you. When you catch it, cradle it all the way to your chest before tossing it back.
The side arm pass will help to develop your rotational strength and explosive power, as well as your balance. Catch the ball on your side and throw it back to your partner with a follow-through twist. Perform this on both sides. If you don’t have a partner, you can also perform oblique twists with the medicine ball.
Another drill very closely resembles a kettlebell swing. In fact, if you’re working out on your own, the kettlebell swing is a useful alternative. Otherwise, have your partner pass the ball low so that you can catch it between your legs. Quickly swing upwards so that your partner has to catch the ball above his/her head. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the movement and drop your hips as you lower yourself to catch the ball.
These are just a few of the many drills and exercises that you could use to improve your throws. Please share your favorites in the comments!