Strength Training And The Throws

May 14, 2014

Legendary throws coach Don Babbitt has an excellent article on strength training and the men’s throws in track and field. In this article, Coach Babbitt is drawing on more than 30 years of experience coaching at the University of Georgia including Olympians, world champions, and NCAA champions.

Coach Babbitt takes an interesting approach to the importance of strength training to the throws. He looks at each of four lifts; the bench press, the squat, the clean, and power snatch. He comes up with a list of which athletes had the greatest lifts, their primary event (shot put, discus, hammer throw, or javelin), and the performance. The results are interesting.

Power lifting:
Coach Babbitt begins by looking at the combined bench press and squat total. Looking at the totals, eight of the top ten athletes are shot putters. One is a hammer thrower, one is primarily a discus thrower.

When looking at just the bench press, of the top fifteen athletes in terms of bench press performance, twelve are either shot putters or primarily shot putters. Two are discus throwers and one throws the hammers. When looking at the bench press in terms of bodyweight (i.e. percentage of bodyweight lifted), all of the top five athletes are shot putters or are primarily shot putters.

With the squat, of the top fifteen athletes in terms of squat performance, nine are either shot putters or are primarily shot putters. Six are either hammer throwers or are primarily hammer throwers. In relation to body weight, three of the top five performances are by hammer throwers and two are by shot putters.

Olympic lifting:
For the snatch and clean total, five of the top ten athletes are hammer throwers. Four more are shot putters. One is a discus thrower.

With regards to the clean exercise, of the top fifteen performances six are from hammer throwers, seven are from shot putters, one is from a discus thrower, and one is from a javelin thrower. In terms of performance relative to body weight, of the top five athletes three are hammer throwers and two are javelin throwers.

For the snatch exercise, of the top fifteen athletes six are hammer throwers. Five are shot putters. Two are javelin throwers and two are discus throwers. There is a similar trend when looking at the snatch in terms of bodyweight; two of the top five athletes are javelin throwers, two are hammer throwers, and one is a discus thrower.

So the results show some differences, what’s going on here? Coach Babbitt makes some interesting observations. First, the shot putters have the best bench press. Second, the shot putters and the hammer throwers have the best squat. These athletes also tend to be bigger or shorter than other throwers. Third, the top snatchers were pretty diverse in terms of event group. Coach Babbitt explains in his article that the best snatchers were also the best throwers in the program, which is not necessarily true of the two power lifts.

Babbitt, D. (2014). Pound for pound: Weightlifting and the men’s throwing events. Techniques, 7(4), 6-18.