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One of the key elements of the Arete Throws Nation strength training program for the throws are the Olympic Lifts.
I can’t say enough about Olympic Lifts; they are just fantastic lifts! They develop coordination (hell, they require coordination), they stimulate hormone production for building muscle mass, they train the nervous system to be responsive, they work flexibility, and the list goes on and on and on.
Personally for me, when I was in college at Mt. SAC, UCLA, and then CU Boulder, it was the first time I was exposed to true weight training and Olympic Lifting, especially techniques. This exposure is where I learned how to do cleans and snatches more effectively.
The point I’m driving at is that when I was at the collegiate level, I definitely got strong! I probably achieved my best strength levels in the power lifts, benchpress, and squat! Most college throws coaches also spend a great deal of time as strength coaches for their throwers. I was very fortunate to learn from some of the top throws/weight lifting coaches in the nation: Art Venagas (who brought in Coach Bob Takano to teach us Olympic liting technique at UCLA), Ej “Doc” Kriesand, and my biggest strength training influence, Tony Ciarelli.
This is when I caught the fever to learn more, and I dedicated myself to learning the science of the throws, the details in the details, and the connection of an elite lifting program for the throws.
2 to 3 years later in my journey through college and post college as a thrower, the Olympic lifts became the emphasis. Tony Ciarelli wrote my programs, and my Olympic lifting totals were higher than they had ever been, and coincidently, so were my throws! This led me to the finals of the Olympic trials in ’96, and a top 10 us ranking!
A coach must understand the proper positions and movements of the Olympic lifts in order for them to be successful for the athlete. To know proper weight load, body positions – i.e. the proper alignment of the back, hips, knees, shoulders, and head, plus the action of the hips, weight distribution throught the feet, as well as the mot optimum path of the bar.
This is why you should watch out for places that have “classes” for Olympic lifting or call themselves “certified”. If you are looking for places to learn Olympic lifting for throwers…well, we are it. Most places do not know, or understand the intricacy, or the details of proper technical movements of the Olympic Lifts, let alone how they translate to the throws. Olympic lifts take time and training to learn. In order to master these lifts correctly takes patience and constant studying. There are places that offer Olympic lifts, but due to their lack of truly understanding HOW to coach it (or instruct it), they are giving the sport of lifting a reputation for numerous injuries, when in actuallity, when coached properly, it is ranked lowest in injuries of all sports- except maybe shuffle board.
In this blog, I’m not going to dissect the Olympic lifts, but rather touch on the general benefits and correlations to the throws. By either becoming a member of the Arete Throws Nation, or physically coming to Arete Strength, you will be given in-depth instruction and education on all the details. It’s just too big a topic to quickly blog on here.
First of all Olympic Lifting is not a “grip it- and rip it” style of lifting. When performing Olympic lifts, there is a double eccentric load, which is why the lifts are so effective. This means you are going to load at the start (by taking time to set it up the lifting chain reaction), before you can ballistically accelerate the weight. As you complete the first pull, you are then going to quickly drop back under the bar to catcht he wieght with the lowerbody (which is the 2nd eccentric load) its an athletic response… something you see in almost all explosive sports, especailly the shot put, discus, and hammer.
Now the throws, of course, add an additional component of rotation (tranverse plane) and transfer of momentum forward into the throwing sector, which clearly you don’t do in the Olympic Lifts as these lifts are movements that are done on the frontal and sagittal plane, moving up and down with 2 feet on the ground straight up- and that is clearly different.
The action of facilitating drive (pushing the legs and driving the heels into the ground), creating power from the ground, extending the hips up in this very short time window, to optimally sequence the path of the bar for the second pull in both snatch and clean is absolutely fantastic for creating explosive strength for the throws!
Many people out there will incorporate dead lifts. From my reading and research, and from the best sports science coaches in history collectively do not focus on the dead lifts. I therefore do not have my athletes do the dead lift. Heavy pulls, yes ( both clean and snatch pulls), but no dead lifts… I do not like dead lifts.. in a box, with a fox… Sam I Am!
Now there will be power lifters out there who will say, “ You are wrong… dead lifts make you strong.” and a heck of a lot more… And to them I say, “It’s great, for a power lifter, but throwers are not power lifters, so can you explain the science, and back it all up with proof of how it transfers into the throws?”
I’ve had some incredible PRs every single year with my athletes, and the best throwers in the world use the Olympic lifts, futher focusing on the maximum velocity, or more specifically, focusing on the meters per second in which the bar moves. The focus is on training the body to move as fast as possible, don’t hate those pesky scientific details of physics- embrace them!
When we look at the number of throwers that have excelled in my program, or those of my mentor Tony Ciarelli, or of my good friend Doug Reynolds at the University of Alabama- he has produced 39 NCAA All- Americans and counting, and many, many others, the performance gains and the empirical data supports my argument. [ and the microphone drops!]
Now the other key Olympic lift is the Jerk. Now the jerk is by far an excellent movement for the throws, especially for shot putters.
The jerk is where the bar is on your shoulders, and you have to dip the hips and drive the bar overhead via the proper action of the legs to set up maximum drive. If you don’t facilitate the movements correctly, you’re likely going to try to muscle the weight overhead with the upperbody instead of the legs, and that will limit the amount of weight you can move. Kinda like throwing the shot… you must sequence the legs before the upper body strike.
Olympic lifts are about moving the weight as fast as possible; moderate to heavy weight that is, as fast as possible. Again initiating from the ground, through the legs, hips, to set up the upper body pull where you move even faster; just like the finish on a throw!
Like I said before, the jerk is phenomenal for the shot putters. Case in point, one season I was working with a coach, and his athletes, and one of his athletes had PR’d 17ft that year in the shot put- he had gone from 45ft to 62 ft as a junior! This coach all season had asked me to write the weight training programs, structure the practices in the ring, coordinate the drills, and basically coach his throwers.
Throughout this season he did asked a lot of questions, because he was trying to learn which is great thing for the school’s program, and the sport in general; however, at the very end of the season, he asked me,
I shook my head and all I could do was sigh. Here we are… we had a 17 ft PR- that is pretty unprecedented for a shot putter for his age and for a single season. Not to mention this athlete wasn’t 6’4” and 300lbs; this athlete was 5’10” and weighted 205!
He was fast as snot and could strike the crap out of it! The base of his lifting program the entire season had been the Arete Strength program for the throws: lots of Cleans, Snatches and Jerks, with variations of each of those movements. That was the dominant change in the training program, and a big reason he became a nationally ranked thrower! [ microphone drop #2]
So if you are not doing Olympic lifts, by all means you need to understand it is something that will absolutely enhance your throwing.
For more information about Olympic lifting for the throws, call me 949-542-5100 www.aretethrowsnation.com
Throw Far My Friends!
Coach Erik Johnson
The Other day I did a mini throws clinic for my Arete throwers ( those that train with me every week). I decided to do it after coming off a series of Arete Throwing Chain Reaction Throws Camps I did over the last 4 weeks in preparation for the upcoming season. I thought it would be a good day to review with my current throwers and assistant coaches the importance of technique, and how important it is to truly understand the science of the throws.
As track season is quickly approaching, many of my throwers have been involved in other sports and thus have not been able to focus on their throws training. It was for this reason I felt it most important to review technique preseason.
I felt it was important to have the coaches and the throwers really review and understand these 6 pillars, and as a result, it turned out to be one of the best throws training days in quite awhile! I saw the light bulbs go on and the head nods ensured me these critical elements were making sense.
It just goes to show you how important it is for coaches and throwers to constantly remain focused on what the main objectives are with the throws, and it’s all based on the principles of science! taking the time to go over each detail of proper positions and angles resulted much better technical movement, and much more mental focus; better than I had seen in weeks.
Focusing and reviewing in-depth the 6 pillars of the Throwing Chain Reaction reminded each thrower you have to be a student of the science, and base your technique on the science and not opinions or some nonsense from a video online.
Taking the time to review technique, the various stages of the throw, and then going forward to apply this refreshed knowledge on drills and wall throws equaled a very productive day!
For the coaches, it allowed them to see which part of the 6 pillars requires the most work for each thrower, equaling a more productive, and effective training session. As a member of aretethrowsnation.com, or as an athlete who physically comes to Arête Strength for throws coaching, we discuss in great detail, each of the 6 pillars of the throws, and then apply each pillar in drills and in the ring.
Wherever a thrower doesn’t clearly understand the pillars, or can’t perform any one or other common pillar, it makes the coach’s job a lot harder and the thrower will likely take longer to get better. It’s the coach’s job to apply the proper drills to address those various pillar weaknesses. It’s not about working harder on misinformation, or poor technique. For the athlete, to be able to recognize their own weaknesses, and areas that need improvement will carry with them throughout their career as a thrower.
As a coach, or a thrower puts it all back together, the Throwing Chain Reaction is a sequence in a throw that basically happens just under 2 seconds! Once all the pieces fit together, the Discus thrower or the Shot Putter will hit that extra gear, excel to the next level, and continue to improve RAPIDLY!
In my upcoming blog I will be talking about each pillar in more detail- so stay tuned!
Throw far! Coach Erik Johnson
P.s. If you’d like to learn more about how coach and train for to throw the Shot put and discus please click here for upcoming camp dates and information.
Throwing is a strength sport, so by default you need to be strong in order to perform the shot put and discus at the optimum level. At least 50% of your throws training is likely going to be spent in the weight room. When you are at the collegiate level, you figure you are spending about 4 to 5 hours daily training, and of that, you are spending at least half of that time on strength related work.
At Arete Strength, our weight-training program for throwers has our athletes lifting 4 to 5 days a week; it’s intense and designed specifically for throwers. The workouts are an hour on a short day and usually at least 2 hours in length. As we move along the season, it changes, but the focus is always on the throws specific strength levels.
In the off season, at Arete Throws Nation, our throwers will do 2+ hours a day of weight training for the throws, and 1 hour of drills because we are getting bigger and stronger for the next year, and we are working on footwork and breaking down the throws technique. We will add light throwing in to keep in touch with the technique, and apply what we learn with the drills, but we will not be constantly throwing in the ring. There is no point to constantly throw in the ring if the athlete’s strength levels are not even capable to do drills and this is where I see the caveat of most high school programs
In our Arete Throws Nation Throwing Chain Reaction camps, I can clearly see who has the horsepower and who doesn’t. If you can’t get into a position doing the drills due to your strength weaknesses or imbalances, you most definitely are not going to get into position in the ring, or in competition. THIS WILL HOLD YOU BACK FROM THROWING FAR!
Without a well-designed weight lifting program for throwing, you will cap a throwers ability to throw far. If a thrower cannot create the angles, the loading on the legs, and the proper trunk activation they are automatically at a deficit. With that being said, an elite weight training program for throwers is NOT about getting a thrower to look aesthetically big, or how big the numbers are in the weight room! It’s about how strong the athlete is for the actual sport; how the lifting translates into the ring. Therefore the weight programs end goal is to throw far, not just put up big numbers in the weight room.
This is a huge deficit at most high school level programs.
There is a lack of structure, knowledge in the weight room, and how to create a program specifically for throwers.
Some people argue that “some strength training is better than no strength training”, and to some degree I would agree with that, but an improper weight program sets up an athlete to get injured too. I saw this happen twice last year from a high school, and I had to repair and rebuild a thrower, and thankfully he had an outstanding season.
I always get the feedback about Arete Throws Nation athletes from these college coaches, and they really appreciate the work ethic, the lifting knowledge, and the skill level of these freshman throwers.
Remember, when a high school thrower goes to the collegiate level for boys, the implements are 30% heavier, and strength becomes paramount. Due to this fact, all my graduating senior throwers will begin an adjustment to their weight training and drills to better prepare them for the transition to the heavier implement.
The Arete Throws Nation’s weight training program for Shot Putters and Discus Throws is always about programming the nervous system. We do weight lifting to be come a better Thrower, and not just better in the weight room.
If you are interesetd in more information about strength training for throws and you live in Southern California, contact me at 949-542-5100
If you want more information about our FALL preseason Throws Camps- Throwing Chain Reaction- CLICK HERE!
or if you have questions about our online membership program CLICK HERE!
Check it out, then hit a new PR in days! www.aretethrowsnation.com
Throw Far! – Coach Erik Johnson
Happy Halloween everyone,
We have a special Halloween Discus Tips Video… Check it out.
Discus glowing in the night
Ring of Horror, thing in flight
I saw it quickly, it spun a star
Lightening object, it did sail far
It shook the soul, it struck the ground,
Demon spirit without a sound
If You Dig This- Like and Share It!
Poem By Mrs. Arete Throws Nation.
BTW. TURN OUT THE LIGHTS AND ENJOY THE VIDEO IN ALL ITS GLORY!
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"Coach Johnson & ATN helped me add 30 feet to my discus and 7 feet to my shot put, in 12 weeks all online. The drills and program are awesome."
--Jackson Gibbon- Bonney Lake, WA
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