Hey Faithful, how the hell are you? Hope you're doing well. My mind has wandered a lot lately, been trying to ignore the fact that I'm turning 30 this year...eeeek.... Part of that really freaks me out, but part of it makes me reflect on my throwing career. I've been throwing since I was 14, that's more than half my life (Lol you think i'd be better... aww sad face...) I know we all do this, what would we have done differently had we known better when we first started out. For me, a lot of that goes back to the weight room, either bad habits or no habits at all. I never really touched a weight room until my Sophomore year of college. Part of that was poor access to facilities and poor coaching to that point, but I should have sought out the knowledge and the weight room before that, just as much my own fault. After my freshman year, and getting a little taste of success throwing the hammer, but then fouling out at NJCAA nationals, my fire was fueled for the next year. When i returned to school in the fall, I approached our assistant coach Mike Caba about hitting the weights hard before the Track season started. We must have talked for 2 hours about my goals, concepts and writing a program. Alfred State at the time was not well known for super strong athletes or a superior weight room. So Coach Caba also being the assistant football coach, made me an abridged version of the offensive lineman lifting program. And from that moment on, I fell in love with the gym. Thanks Coach.
So I had passion, and the testosterone fueled pride of a 19 year old, but the gym wasn't taken seriously at this college, so proper technique, and weight room coaching in the weight room itself wasn't available. Which led to loading up the bar to way past what i could actually handle, which led to...you guessed it... injury!!! An injury that ruined two runs at indoor nationals and the bulk of my Senior season, and I still deal with to this day. Again, I blame no one but myself.
Sorry, I'm rambling, I'm practically a senior citizen now...Let's bring this back around.
So as we're getting into the meat of the Highland Games Season or as Track is getting ready to wrap it up for the year. I would like to discuss weight room concepts specific to throwers, but some of this will apply to all strength athletes. I definitely don't consider myself an expert in this field. So I'm only going to share a few of my thoughts with you. What I am an expert in, is finding good information from people who do have the knowledge. So for you ones of readers out there, I've reached out to some people who I have nothing but respect for, and their word is as solid as anyone's on this particular subject. So hopefully of the 3 of you reading this, one of you will get some solid info out of it.
Just like the Weight over Bar, this one for me is the simplest concept, but is still incredibly hard to do.
Just do you boo boo!!! (see..patience paid off, I finally brought it back around...I'm like Tarantino up in this B*tch) Most of us lift in gyms with other lifters. Box gyms, strongman gyms, cross fit gyms, etc etc... It is hard to ignore what other lifters are doing. Especially if you're in a gym with other strength athletes, it's easy to try and hypothetically whip it out and pull out the measuring tape.
Follow your program. I've never benched 500 pounds, but I've hit 50ft multiple times in open stone. I've made a career of out throwing guys who are way stronger than me. If your program calls for you to move weight fast ( it does) then move weight fast. The weight room is a tool to help you throw farther. But just like any tool if you don't use it right it's not going to work. Do your program the best you can, not someone else's program. That's just pride messing with you.
This is something I am guilty of as much as anyone, and I'm trying to be better about it by only showing lifts that are throwing related, but still my hubris gets me sometimes with this one. Lifting for the Grams!!!
It's fun to show progress, and show what you've been working on. Just like we said before, lift your program don't add extra weight and work a bunch of heavy singles if your program doesn't call for it. You're not going to be an Instagram star!!! Unless you're a hot girl that squats in booty shorts, it ain't gonna happen bruh.
Quick PSA. Instagram lifter chicks, you do a wonderful service for society, never change. I swear I only follow for the comments and inspiring messages.
Lifting for the grams, was discussed in great detail on the Blood and Iron podcast that Justin Blatnik hosts. The episode with Jeff Milliron, he discusses his wrestling between lifting the program and lifting for instagram. Great podcast those guys run.
So I could drone on...but lets give our experts their time. To these people I posed this simple question.
What are the biggest mistakes you see throwers making in the gym?
Here is what they had to say. Enjoy.
Charles Infurna- Founder and CEO of Forza Athletics, Throws Coach at Nazareth College.
I see a lack of focus and mindfulness, similar to deliberate practice. To further explain, I don't think some, maybe closer to most throwers, have a plan when they walk into the gym to train. It's probably not their fault either. However, just doing something to do something is not the better than doing nothing at all. Luis and I have a plan through USATF Outdoor Nationals. We are flexible in our training, but have a plan-stretch goals.
Ed Jaskulski- Head S&C Coach and Throws Coach for the College at Brockport
(Also Ed was my first ever throws coach and taught me so much about throwing my Junior and Senior years of college. Ed is one of the biggest influences in my life, a lot to do with who I am as an athlete and a person. )
-not taking the time to learn form and improving technique before attempting big weights. It opens the door for injury which takes them out of throwing, and will hinder their over all training.
- Not learning how to move things fast. Simply trying to muscle their way through movements and adding weight before understanding how to actually be putting the maximal effort into the bar with a lighter weight. Everyone mistakes powerlifting or maximal attempts as slow moving, grinding attempts. It may appear as such, but the person under that bar is moving that weight with the quickest intent. You see throwers also displaying this in their throwing, with the poor understanding of summation of forces and just trying to muscle their way through throws. Instead of getting connected and allowing the body to work as one unit with multiple firing sequences.
- I see most athletes in general not paying enough attention to trunk work. On all planes, be it abs and obliques, the spinal erectors, the glutes and hips, standing, laying, hanging, rotationally etc. Athletes want them "look good" abs, but neglect the actual strength and functionality of the trunk and how it works from the inside out and effects multiple other functions of the lower extremities and to hitting proper posture through the throwing events to produce the longest and most efficient throws.
- Not being a student of what they're involved in. Read a book, that's right a book, not google. Learn the actual training philosophies, the techniques, the equipment. I see an overall lack of fully submersing into the training much like the throwing. I see this same problem in the actual throwing. Kids just show up and expect results, all the while neglecting the work. Put the time into your craft. Especially NCAA athletes, it's the fastest closing window of your life. And very few are fortunate enough to continue on to a bigger stage. Maximize your time that you have.
Adriane Wilson- 9037 time Highland Games World Champion (give or take a few), 7 time NCAA national champion at Ashland University, 3 time Olympic trials competitor.
I would say one of the biggest mistakes throwers make in the gym is not resting and allowing recovery. Some days it's okay if you feel like crap and go home. Of course if this continues to an everyday issue then you may need to focus in on your motivation. I am spending soooo much more time on recovery methods because I'm highly motivated to throw. I can't throw if I'm broken.
Sam Grammer- One of the Top Pro Highland Game Throwers and Pro Strongman ( Sam has always given me good info if you ever get a chance to pick his brain you should, His answers was short and "sweet" on this subject then he tried to sell me his wife, hahaha I do love the Highland Games)
Lifting Too Heavy...Too Slow...Power Lifters Make Sh*tty Throwers...haha...Biggest mistake throwers make is they take this sh*t too seriously...Even training. Check the ego and relax.
Kevin Becker- 2 time NCAA National Champion, Professor of Kinesiology at Texas Woman's University, Competed at US Olympic Trials #VanBandForLife
The two biggest areas I see where a lot of throwers could improve in the weight room is cutting the in season volume, and focusing less on max strength. With volume, we need to remember that throwing reps count toward our volume too. When we start throwing more in season, it's easy to add in a lot more throwing sessions, but not really cut back volume in the weight room.
The other thing I would say about volume is that you have to consider what you are doing outside of training. Professional athletes that don't work at all outside of the sport can handle a lot more volume than someone putting in 8-10 hour days at work. Even if you have a desk job, mental fatigue contributes to how much stress your body can handle. The other thing I see a lot is a major emphasis on max strength. This has been written about a lot in other venues (e.g., anyone following Bondarchuk's training methods), but we have to remember that our goal at the end of the day is to move an implement fast. I've had my best gains in throwing when I'm lifting lighter weights and focusing on speed. For me personally, max strength sessions seem to zap my nervous system and leave me having mediocre throwing for a couple days. With dynamic sessions, I can have great throwing sessions the same day or the day following a lifting workout and have fewer issues with nagging injuries. I still struggle with wanting to go heavy when my body feels good because lifting heavy stuff is awesome, but when I can keep my ego in check and stick to the plan I see greater gains in throwing. Using a tendo unit, push band, etc. is also helpful because you can chase a speed number instead of a weight number.
Daniel Mckim- 4 time Highland Games World Champion, holds the world records for the Light and Heavy Hammer, and silly internet video champion.
Chasing numbers in lifts they have had a high history of injuries in during their throwing career. Big one
I love Lt. Gainz
I saved the best for last, we were able to get some Legend Status for this article. You need to know this guy if you are either a highland gamer or a track and field thrower. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister Ryan Vierra.
Ryan Vierra- 5 time Highland Games World Champion, IHGF figure head, and Throws Coach at CSU Stanislaus. ( and like probably a bunch of other stuff, research is hard-ish sometimes)
Not knowing when to get out and focus more on the technique and feeling throwing
Many people don't know but I would go from maybe dec to April 1st of lifting to moderate throwing to no lifting at all to lots of throwing 4 to 6 days a week somewhere from 4 to 6 hours a day. As the season progresses like around June I would cut that back by half. No lifting at all from April 1st to mid-dec or even Jan 1st depending how long my season ran. Throwing is lifting when it comes to the HG Specific throwing strength was my primary focus and it was a major factor in my longevity.
Thank you so much for reading. As always share this article and comment below, I'd love to hear your feed back, and maybe some of the mistakes you've made or seen in the gym. Please follow me on the tweets and grams @MattHandThrows Now go out there and get after it!!! We got rocks to throw homey!!!
Former Track and Field athlete and coach turned Highland Games Athlete. Follow along for advice mostly through trial and error, and maybe a few laughs along the way. My mom says i'm funny and handsome, and obviously she's right. LOL