Written by Chad Wesley Smith
In Part 1 of this series, I detailed the flaws in my own training as a shot putter and discussed an overview of the training model that I would now follow if I was still competing and that I would encourage other athletes to emulate.
Dr. Anatoli Bondarchuk is the pioneer of the special strength development training model for throwers. His thrower’s results (particularly in the hammer) are unparalleled. Bondarchuk’s emphasis towards special exercise with the highest dynamic correspondence to throwing allowed his athletes to set World Records and win international medals even though they didn’t possess the highest benches, squats or cleans.
In this, Part 2, of my series on training for throwers we will look at these exercises with the highest transfer of training to your throwing results and discuss how to organize them into a sample program for you and your athletes.
The first step in the process of choosing exercises that will transfer best to your throwing is to classify the exercises.
Bondarchuk classifies exercises into 4 categories, General Preparatory, Special Preparatory, Special Developmental and The Competitive Event.
General Preparatory Exercises are different movements and different systems (muscular and energy) than your event. For example, the shot put is an alactic anaerobic event-very explosive in nature, relying heavily on the legs, trunk, shoulders and arms in a linear or rotational fashion. General exercises for the Shot, Disc and Hammer would be: Deadlift, Rows, Pullups, Presses and Swings with Dumbbells or Kettlebells, GHRs, Back Raises, Pullups/Chinups, Step Ups, Lunges, etc
Special Preparatory Exercises are the same systems as your event but through different movement patterns. Olympic lifts, Squats, Bench Press Variations, Jumping (Upper and Lower Body) Exercises and Sprints would all be classified as special preparatory exercises for the shot putter and discus thrower. For the hammer thrower the Bench Press would be a GPE.
Special Developmental Exercises are using the same systems through similar systems as your event; similar, not identical. Explosive rotational drills, kneeling throw variations and various single joint actions that duplicate one portion of the sporting action and mirror its velocity and range of motion.
Competitive Exercises are of course the throws and variations of them in more difficult (heavier) and easier (lighter) conditions.
Each category on the list, becomes more specific and will have higher dynamic correspondence to your throwing distances. The Preparatory exercises prepare your bodies to train specifically for your event, while the Developmental exercises simultaneously develop your strength and technique.
It is the highest transfer exercises, Special Developmental and Competitive, that we will focus on here and it is these exercises that will yield the greatest improvements in your throwing.
Special Developmental Exercises will consist of explosive drills that occur through the same planes of movement that the throws do and at similar velocities. There are too many exercises to list in this category but here are some video examples to get your mind working in the right direction…
Special Developmental Exercises will improve your strength and power through specific motor patterns needed to succeed in throwing and are critical to success at the highest level of sport.
As critical as SDE work is though, it is the Competitive Exercises that will have the highest transfer and are of the highest priority. CE work will consist of throwing overweight, normal weight and underweight implements at varying intensities. Here and only here can you best develop your technique and actually practice your sport.
Overweight and Underweight implements will develop your abilities at different points on the force/velocity curve. Generally weak or speed based throwers will benefit from throwing overweight implements, while generally stronger and slower athletes need to use more underweight implements to learn to move faster.
Bondarchuk uses the idea of ‘Range Throwing’ to answer the question of ‘how many throws per practice and at what intensity?’ The body will best learn technique at 85-92.5% of maximum, as higher intensities will lead to technical errors from too much focus on power and distance and lower intensities will be too slow to reinforce proper technique.
In a typical 30 throw practice, his athletes use anywhere from 2-3 different hammers. For this discussion the model was 10 throws with the 6 Kilo, 10 with the 7.26K and 10 with the 8K. He explained that the 6K was used to warm up and gradually build speed and rhythm. By the time the athlete gets to the 16, he is ready to put his first throw in the range of 60-65 meters. This “Range Throwing” training procedure may take patience in learning, if the athlete’s previous training experience has been primarily throwing hard for maximum distance. At some point during the workout, the thrower will hit one “over” the range. At this point he or she should attempt 2 more harder throws at near maximum for the day. Assuming those throws were 66-68-67, they are recorded and used for charting purposes to follow what training stimulus produced these marks. If the athlete has 3 throws remaining in the series of 10, he is instructed to bring them back within the range and feel the technique, what Bondarchuk called throwing with “rhythm”. Some days the range buster may come on the first throw, or when the trainee is tired, he may need to really turn it up to break range on throws 8-9 and 10. The harder throws were called “Tempo” throws- and he uses the phrase, “Up tempo”, for what happens in competition. The 8K was then employed to help with “hammer specific strength.” Again, the rhythm method was the goal. If it is the aim to bring another ball up in distance other than the 16- the same philosophy is used. If the best for the 70-meter thrower with the 6K is 75 meters, than the range values are 64-70 and 3 harder throw are encouraged at some point. If on that given day he hits a best of 76 meters, than the next practice starts with new ranges.
Bondarchuk discusses the cycling of light implements per 3-week training blocks, between the 5K, 6K and 6.25K/14 lb for shot and hammer., keeping the 16 the standard and cycling the heavy implements between the 8K, 9K and 10K with 2-3” shorter than normal wires in the hammer.
When volume of throwing changes so must the volume of ‘range busters’. Only 3 or 30% of your training throws should be over the range in the 10 throw model for 16′s. If you do 18 throws, 6 light, 6 normal, and 6 heavy, then the thrower makes only 2 harder throws. If the thrower is in a period of 45 throws (15-15-15), then he is allowed 4-5 range busters with the 16.
Hopefully this information will serve as a guide to begin to implement training with higher carryover to your and your athlete’s throwing results.
In the final part of this series we will address the General and Special Preparatory Exercises, which are critical to the athlete’s success, particularly younger throwers, as they form the foundation of the training process.
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