Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey Yemi! What do you bench and Squat?

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I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this question. When I give an answer, people are usually shocked because it is a number far from what they expect a 60 meter thrower to have. I believe that many of us assume that pushing serious weight in the weight room equals throwing far. This is debatable in many aspects and from my experience every coach has his/her own deep seated impression on what gets results.
Today I want to explain my philosophy on lifting weights and gaining strength as a discus thrower. I will talk about three spheres of strength that need to be attained in order to achieve the most extensive amount of general strength essential to throwing the discus. Here are the spheres:
  • Weight room strength. A lot of us are more than adequate in this range. In my opinion if you are benching more than 300 you are fine and anything more than 500, you should consider becoming a shot putter full time. For full squats, anything over 400 is more than enough, anything over 600 and you are in for a world of pain in your future.
    • I usually tell people that the more important of the two lifts is the squat because all the power comes from the legs. If you depend on your upper body (high bench press) to throw far, you are setting yourself up for many injuries due to poor technique.
    • The reason I don't feel bench should be too much over 500 is because there comes a point where you can actually be too powerful to throw the discus, yes you heard me right, you can become too powerful and in turn overpower the discus.
  • Athleticism. If i was a discus coach, I would rather have a athletically gifted athlete who is explosive in the sprints and agile than a hulk who is too strong to be athletic. The hulk might work in shot put sometimes but is the discus it might not be as succesful. This is because it takes natural athleticism rather than strength to throw the discus far. Take a look at Brian Clay:
http://nbcsportsmedia3.msnbc.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/040824/040824_clay_hlg_4p.h2.jpg
    • The reason why this 5'11" 174 lb decathlete can throw the discus over a 180' and throw the javelin over 220' is because he has good technique and is very athletic. At best I would give Brian a 350 lb bench and 500 lb full squat (correct me if I'm wrong). With this information, why do some coaches still push their athletes to increase their weight room max instead of telling them to go run a couple of laps and do some sprints more often? Bigger is definitely not better in the discus throw, rather it is the more athletic athlete that takes home the medal in the discus.
  • Throw technique specific strength. This is what makes European throwers leaps and bounds ahead with of U.S throwers today. Building technical strength requires repetition of good technique while adding an element of resistance in order to strengthen technical strength. This can be achieved with doing drills such as: discus drills with weight bar on back or holding dumbbells; medball throws with a focus on using the hips to throw the ball.
    • Throw specific strength is what I feel is the most important part of gaining actual throwing strength because it is the only one that targets throwing specific muscles and reinforces strong muscle memory. Trust me when I say that doing this more often, especially during the off season will do wonders for your throwing and overall athleticism.
We should not just focus on one area of the strength sphere because they are interdependent on each other. A fluent combination of all three spheres mentioned above will result in more athletic ability in combination with strength which results in a more powerful, explosive and balanced discus thrower.

If you disagree with me or have something to add let me know! leave a comment below or email me at oa4w@virginia.edu. "Discus heads dismissed!"

8 comments:

Javier Rodríguez Rosete said...

i'm in totally agreement with you!
i think that if you lift very heavy weights you may be too big and too stronger for being fast and explosive in the end of the throw.i'm just 16 and i bench about 100kg 1 time at best and 130kg 2 times at best.these are a cool shit because i can say that the boy that won the youth championship,hamid manssour,can lift about 180kg bench and 200kg squat at least.
If you can,post a comment on my blog,it's quite empty because all my throwers friends and others are on holidays.
Again,sorry about my english,however i hope you'll understand me.
you're a great thinking athlete,you'll arrive far!
Good luck

Joshua said...

Speed over Strength!

Yemi Ayeni (D.M.F) said...

You are so right my friends so right!

Anonymous said...

So....what do u really press + squat? Meanwhile u should try yahoo answers...then put a link to ur blog to every q u answer...holla black

Yemi Ayeni (D.M.F) said...

I haven't maxed out in the last 2 years so I'm not sure but I am sure I can get up 350lb 3 times for bench and around 500 for squat. I usually work on speed and general strength more.

bigjon973 said...

Yemi, I agree with you up to a point. You can have a large bench or squat, but the most important lifts to a thrower are the power clean and the snatch. Those two lifts provide the speed strength necessary to provide the acceleration needed for the big distances. More throwers should do sprint training, and should NEVER do long distance training. I would sacrifice every slow twitch muscle fiber in my body for more TypeIIA fast twitch fibers!!!

Yemi Ayeni (D.M.F) said...

bigjon973 you are so right. My next post will focus on what lifts to focus on as a discus thrower.

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