Rotational Strength

In response to an inquiry on rotational strength, let me ramble on for a few hours.

First, I have tried as a coach and a thrower to do every thing possible to build this aspect of my throw. It is harder than you think. I would always argue a good base of ab work for any thrower. We did a variety of crunches, situps, various ground based twists, and leg raises. I found that medicine ball throws were a very valuable addition, too. At times, I became lethal at those medicine ball situps where you try to bury your training partner after coming up.

Second, the coaches who really push rotational strength training often don’t have good throwers. Or, it is an opinion. The best throws coaches train rotational strength on the field with overweight hammers, plates and “puds.” Puds are weights with fixed handle. Throwing the 35 pound weight during the indoor season used to really prepare my muscles for the disc. My best was 58’11” with the old style of two turns and hit it. Bondarchuk, the great Russian coach, experimented with everything and he and Sedych ended up with a very simple program of clean grip snatches, half squats and a heavy over the shoulder throw to both sides.

Bondarchuk later developed a wonderful program that developed over a year. You would change exercises every few weeks, but they built on each other. I mentioned that in a past post: Clean from box, clean from hang, clean from floor, snatch from box, snatch from hang, snatch from floor, clean grip snatch from box, clean grip snatch from hang, then clean grip snatch from floor. Well, the rotational work developed along the same lines with one arm throws to two and back varying weights.

John Jesse offered a program for throwers in Track and Field Quarterly Review, June 1966. He made an important statement:
“Though timing and correct body position on arrival at the front of the ring are essential to the maximum application of “body torque,” once the athlete arrives at that position, application of “body torque” is entirely dependent upon the strength of the waist and abdominal region, primarily the spinal rotator and lateral flexor muscles of the trunk”

That statement could be said about any sport. His recommended program:

Exercise High School Reps and Sets College Sets and Reps

Continuous Clean and Press 1 x 8 to 10 1 x 12
Parallel Squat with Toe Raise 2 x 8 to 10 3 x 7
Supine Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 x 4 to 6 6 x 6
Bent Over Lateral Dumbbell Raise 4 x 4 to 6 6 x 6
Twisting Situp 1 x 20 1 x 20
Forward Bend (Good Morning) 2 x 4 to 8 3 x 6
Side Bends (Dumbbell) 1 x 20 1 x 20
High Pull 1 x 8 to 10 3 x 6
Wrist Extensions 4 x 8 4 x 8
Bouncing Split Squat 1 x 16 to 20 1 x 16 to 20
Bend over Twist 1 x 16 to 20 1 x 16 to 20

Carol did a lot of twists, but John Powell did none. Brian Oldfield’s breakthrough training was simply pyramids of power cleans and push jerks twice a week.

At Utah State, we emphasized power cleans, push jerks, quarter squats and a power curl. Throwing muscles came from throwing. But, we also had everybody throwing over 180 in the disc. To make USU’s top twenty, you have to throw 180 and change. (BTW, this list is almost 100% Americans, with one or two Canadians. Some schools simply buy older European throwers and claim to coach them; this is a real pisser in my life. I ended my Div 1 eligibility at age 21. I competed against a guy at another Utah school ((nameless)) that was a 26 year old freshman.

I guess my point is to look at successful throwers rather than what someone says. I know that seems assbackwards, but when you talk with Anthony Washington and he tells you that he spends four months a year just doing circuit training on the universal gym in his girlfriend’s apartment complex, then nails a 232 throw, you need to reaccess “science” and review the throws as art. American throwers especially seem to do better when they focus on their strengths or local resources rather than listening to some guy at a clinic. Fortunately, we seem to be getting people at these clinics in the past few years, but we still have a major drugger giving a lot of throws clinics.

In my career, I tried everything, but I found that snatches and squats (front, back, overhead) gave me the biggest bang for my buck. Pavel T’s stuff is excellent and I would have used that in the fall and winter. No question rotational strength is important, but safely developing it is another question.

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