Work Capacity and Training Throwers

About a year ago, I wrote this from discus camp here in Ohio (I am back again).

John and I were talking about the history of the discus and pointed out that Bud Houser was a stud. The kids had no idea. So:

Another championship record was set by Clarence “Bud” Houser in the men’s discus competition. A well-known athlete in the weights events, Houser won gold in both shot put and discus at the 1924 Olympics while a student at the University of Southern California. The winner of the discus event at the 1925 A.A.U championships, Houser successfully defended his title in 1926 and set a new championship record of 153 feet 6.5 inches. Houser won gold again in discus at the 1928 Olympic games and was known for developing a technique of rapidly rotating around the circle before releasing the discus.

After retiring from competition, Houser became a practicing dentist in California.

Well, great. Then, I found these gems:

He built his strength by carrying rock
s in his hands to overcome his
 shyness as an orphan boy.

During his summers at Oxnard Hi
gh School he would load 100 pound
 hay bales in Cocoran, Californi
a sometimes during weather that
 reached 110 degrees. 

Bud married Dawn Evelyn Smith, the 
daughter of a dentist. She was a
 USC coed and Bud said that her fa
ther was his mentor in becoming a
 dentist and cutting back in sports to keep up his studies. 

Bud Houser could have signed a major league baseball contract
 (Chicago Cubs) but met with the gr
eat Jim Thorpe who, because of 
his amateur status problems, told Bud to stick with becoming a

During our drills today, I was watching high school football player struggling to pick up a 60 pound stone to “play catch” with it. These guys are on year round football lifting programs, but when asked to pick up a rock, it is an effort. It got me thinking about one of my heroes, Glenn Passey, the great Utah State discus thrower. At 178 pounds, he set the NCAA discus record at 190′ 9.” His training was nothing like what we do today, but he spent his summers tossing hay bales up into barns. Plus, he did a lot of Farmer Carries to get things from “here” to “there.”3229996

In other words, is Work Capacity the missing link in modern training. Honestly, college athletes do more now than ever before with up to twenty hours a week for just conditioning. For the record, I never trained a TOTAL of twenty hours much of my time at Utah State: we had these things called “classes.” When I see the programs, I see a lot of time devoted to “Dynamic Mobility,” we threw the discus, “Flexibility,” we threw the discus, “Foam Rolling,” we threw the discus, and “Functional Hypertrophy Work.” I don’t know what that means, so I won’t be snarky.


Like I told Bill Witt, John Murray and Chase Kallas at lunch, I’m not trying to be the old guy in his underwear yelling at the kids on the street.

“Hey, you kids! Quiet down out here. People are trying to watch the TV!”

I’m wondering out loud if there is a lack of Work Capacity in modern athletes. We can measure it simple by just having you do a Farmers Walk with half bodyweight in each hand (total bodyweight is the load). How far do you go?

Then, six weeks later after this brilliant training plan, we retest the FW. I would have to insist that after six weeks, you should be able to go farther. If you don’t, the program didn’t build Work Capacity!

Most coaches enjoy working with wrestlers because they have big motors and seem to be able to go and go. I know that elite performance is exhausting especially when it comes to explosion, but increasing total Work Capacity should increase the number of quality attempts in training.

There is “enough is enough” here. I watched the famous USC-Alabama game where Sam “Bam” Cunningham changed the minds of many Southern fans about the face of college football. The legend tells us that Bear Bryant liked his defenders “lean and mean” and the story goes that the defense averaged 195 pounds. Cunningham, at 230, pulverized them. ‘Bama’s defense might have been able to play three or four games in a row back to back, just not the one being played by USC.

So, I am going to start testing this little theory with the FW. If the goals of a program are met and, in addition, the FW goes farther, I’m thinking now that this program was pretty good. With something like “Mass Made Simple,” I imagine the FW will increase without a single walk in the program. Perhaps that is why it works so well for football.

I’m still working on clarity here, but I wanted to write something. I had to switch computers and so many things have to be done from scratch, so I have been unable to blog for a few weeks. I thought this was important to discuss, even in the early stages.

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