Weight Training for Throwing Sports

javelin thrower

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How can you build more explosive power for throwing sports such as the Olympic field sports of javelin, shot put, hammer throw, and discus? Beyond training for technique, throwing can usually be enhanced by training for strength and power with weights.

The natural ability to throw fast and with power is mostly determined by your particular complement of muscle type, joint structure, and biomechanics. 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 be working in concert to exert maximum thrust.

Because all athletes have individual needs, a generic program like this will need to be modified for age, gender, goals, facilities, 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. Adjustments for individual sports events may be necessary.

Weight Training in General Preparation for Throwing Sports

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 the Basic Strength and Muscle program.
  • Rest Between Sets: 60 to 90 seconds

Weight Training in Specific Preparation for Throwing Sports

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

  • Frequency: 2 to 3 session per week
  • Type: strength and power - 60 to 70% 1RM
  • Exercises: 5 sets of 6: Romanian deadlift, incline bench press, hang clean press, single-leg squats, back squat, lat pulldown, pull-ups, plus combo crunches
  • Rest Between Sets: 2 to 3 minutes

Weight Training During the Competition Phase

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

Tips for Weight Training for Throwing Sports

  • Be sure to warm up and cool down prior to weight training.
  • Don't train through injuries, acute or chronic.
  • Don't sacrifice a throwing session for a weights session—unless you're treating or recovering from an injury with weights work.
  • If you have a knowledgeable coach, be guided by him or her regarding the details of your program.
  • Take at least a few weeks off at the end of the season to recover after a hard season of training and competing.
  • If you're new to weight training, be sure to read up on the fundamentals and get proper form down before you start.
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