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.

Discus Camp!!!

It is going very well. Really well. I have to tell you that I am appreciate all the calls and emails from former campers and family about how great this is and how it changes lives (for the better). This new kid here wants to be a thrower…”Stretch-1-2-3:”

Wants to learn to throw

Wants to learn to throw


If you need to know what we do here you go:
The Four Step Approach

The Ricky Video

Glenn Passey is the second thrower here…

Glenn Passey
The Mountain Games

A Classic Discus Thrower Movie

The dancing girl is now a mom (and First Grade Teacher!).
The “Ad” for Camp 2013

My 1996 Discus Clinic Notes

Wow, memory lane! I found these and what makes me happy is this workshop, the California State Track and Field Workshop (you can see it in some of the sheets) was NOT well received by the audience. Now, I got “letters” later that were very impressed, but the coaches thought I was full of it. Then, about a month after this, Paul Northway threw 214′ 9″ using this exact concept.

It’s from 1996. The computer I used to type this used floppy discs, so I can’t find anything to pop them open! So, I took pictures of them. I’m still happy that many long years later, nearly everything I wrote here stands up. I also include our “Winter” workouts of January. The memories are wonderful of this time. My daughters used to come over from Our Lady of Lourdes and watch me throw there at Judge Memorial…the little parking area was their recess area.

I am still happy this holds up.

My free book, The Contrarian Approach to the Discus Throw, was based, in part, by this workshop in 1996. Click the “Discus” Link for it.

All things discus

If you are interested in discus throwing,
I have some notes on this page that you may find helpful

For those who can’t seem to figure out “Quicktime”…I won’t mention names…
I made a PDF of the 174 throw PLUS and exciting pic!

Sixty (!!!) pages of reviews, discussions, ideas from the John Powell Discus Camps
…including the SLC, Orlando and Dan John “Special” Camps

Pavel T and I outlined a
simple lifting program for throwers “Get Up!” A little handout I use
when people come and train with me to make sure I cover everything.

My Commentaries on Ralph Maughan’s Classic
1963 Discus Article.
My coach at Utah State University wrote this in 1963 and I attempted to update it

Thinking Throwing Through
An article dedicated to those valiant people who attempt “throws” competition with no background

Camp 2002
one of the best ever!

The “Lost” John Powell Information
A nice little overview of some of John’s training that somehow got lost in the nightmare of HTML

Show up, Don’t quit, Ask Questions
My three-part formula for success in life and sports