Weight Training for Throwing Sports

javelin thrower

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To succeed in throwing sports such as the Olympic field sports of javelin, shot put, hammer throw, and discus, athletes need explosive power. Beyond training for technique, throwing can usually be enhanced by training for strength and power with weights.

Great throwers are endowed with amazing arm speed. This means the ability to thrust the arm forward with great velocity while delivering an object—javelin, shot, discus, hammer, baseball, and so on. However, the arm is only one aspect of the delivery process. Legs, core, shoulders, and flexibility all need to work in concert to exert maximum thrust.

The natural ability to throw fast and with power is mostly determined by your particular muscle type, joint structure, and biomechanics. Use this three-phase training plan to improve your performance in throwing sports.

Preparation Phase

The general preparation phase should provide all-around muscle and strength conditioning in the early pre-season. You will probably be doing throwing training as well, so you will need to fit it in with your fieldwork.

As a general rule, and for all the following programs, don't do the weights workouts prior to throwing practice. Do the session on a separate day if possible. Nothing you do should limit your ability to practice throwing in your chosen sport.

  • Frequency: 2 to 3 sessions per week
  • Type: General conditioning
  • Exercises: 9 exercises, 3 sets of 12, plus warm-up and cool-down in this basic strength and muscle program.
  • Rest between sets: 60 to 90 seconds

Weight Training Phase

In this phase, you will focus more on the development of strength and power. This is the later pre-season, leading up to the start of competition.

Competition Phase

The aim of this phase is to maintain strength and power. Throwing practice and competition should dominate. Prior to the start of competition, take a 7- to 10-day break from heavy weights work while maintaining your throwing work. Weight training in the competition phase should essentially play a maintenance role.

  • Frequency: 1 to 2 sessions per week
  • Type: Power; lighter loads and faster execution than in the specific preparation phase
  • Exercises: 3 sets of 10, rapid movement, 40% to 60% of 1RM. Squats, power hang clean and press, Romanian deadlift, lat pulldown, incline bench press, crunches.
  • Rest between sets: 1 to 2 minutes

Training Tips for Throwing Sports

Because all athletes have individual needs, a generic program like this will need to be modified based on an individual's age, sex, goals, facilities, sports events, and so on. Consider this a basic program from which to build an individual training program. A certified strength and conditioning coach would be an advantage.

  • Be sure to warm up prior to weight training and cool down afterward.
  • Don't sacrifice a throwing session for a weights session—unless you're treating or recovering from an injury with weights work.
  • Don't train through injuries, acute or chronic.
  • If you're new to weight training, be sure to read up on the fundamentals and get proper form down before you start.
  • Take at least a few weeks off at the end of the season to recover after a hard season of training and competing.
4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Weber AE, Kontaxis A, O’Brien SJ, Bedi A. The biomechanics of throwing: simplified and cogentSports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2014;22(2):72-79.

  2. Zaras N, Spengos K, Methenitis S, et al. Effects of strength vs. ballistic-power training on throwing performanceJ Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(1):130-137.

  3. Sakamoto A, Kuroda A, Sinclair PJ, Naito H, Sakuma K. The effectiveness of bench press training with or without throws on strength and shot put distance of competitive university athletesEur J Appl Physiol. 2018;118(9):1821-1830. doi:10.1007/s00421-018-3917-9

  4. Sgroi TA, Zajac JM. Return to throwing after shoulder or elbow injuryCurr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2018;11(1):12-18. doi:10.1007/s12178-018-9454-7

By Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers is a personal trainer with experience in a wide range of sports, including track, triathlon, marathon, hockey, tennis, and baseball.