Q & A
This section will be completed as items of interest are identified. They can include technique or training questions, personal questions, or Brian's views on other relevant issues. Please forward all questions to email@example.com.
Question from Kyle: "I heard that Brian used to do shot put workouts with 13, 14, and 15 pound shots. I was wondering what workouts he would do with the different weighted shots. Or how he decided when to use certain weights."
Answer: I used both overweight and underweight shots regularly in my training. I would start with the overweight shots and work down. My daily throwing routine of about 10 standing or power throws, 6 two-handed overhead throws and at least 50 full throws of which I would consider 6 to be competitive throws, usually the last 6. For those 6 throws, I would simulate throwing in meet conditions with appropriate waits between throws and try NOT TO FOUL.
Regarding the different weight shots, an athlete should never use a shot more than 25% heavier than their competitive weight shot. While I started heavy and worked down, some athletes may find it better to start light and work up. One thing all throwers must be aware of is that when their technique gets sloppy or their tempo gets bad, the shot is too heavy.
I would usually take about 10 throws with each different weight shot. I would rest between weight changes.
When throwing with heavier shots, it made me get lower in the center of the ring and use my legs more. Since I couldn't muscle the heavy shots, it required me to concentrate on technique. When using the light shots, I was able to get a longer application of power which is essential to good throwing.
Over time, I calculated that with every pound of change in the weight of the shot, there was a corresponding change of about 6% in distance.
Question: You work with Brian Oldfield and John Powell. Can you tell us all their secrets?
He told me in Ohio that his "Best" training program was doing rack lifts of 15 reps of partial front squats, partial pulls and partial presses (short top end movements only) for about five heavy sets twice a week. "That's all you need to throw far."
He was a real fan of sprinting and sprinting on your toes. He told me the same thing, many, many times, Fred, that plyos are BS. Now, I have to agree with him: if you are a thrower or O lifter...what the hell are you doing leaping off boxes?
He also introduced shot throws, too. He started every workout with underhand throws, overhead throws, one arm throws, over the shoulder throws and tricks with the 16 pound shot. You could call this "upper body plyos" or you could call it "throwing," depending on your audience, I guess.
The other great Oldfield insight is overweight throwing. This "revolutionized" my coaching, I wish I would have done it sooner. (Actually, I did. The summer after I threw 190, I experimented with a 7 1/2 pound plate. I could really throw it far. When I went back to the disc after three weeks I tossed my lifetime best and lifetime goal in a good wind. Since this worked so well...of course, I stopped doing it)
At the John Powell Discus Camp in Granville, Ohio, we give everyone a "powerball" a handled medicine ball. All week long, the athletes relearn to throw from the ground up. After doing this, my athletes return to Utah and then throw well beyond their best. This, along with Overhead Squats, is the reason we were able to get Paul Northway to throw 214'9" in high school. Brian learned this from Highland Games' events, then applied it to his rotational throw.
Again, you could call some of these drills "plyos," it all depends on your audience.
The great insights of Brian:
1. Lift twice a week, but do full body, explosive, heavy stuff
2. Train with overweight implements
3. Take your minerals
4. Sprint training or hills is very important
5. Become a true student of your event and try to think through every single aspect of what you do
6. Discover what foods you are allergic to
7. Complicate the movement with drills to simplify it in the ring
8. Enjoy yourself...have some fun!
I think the reason people think that Brian, John Powell, and just about every other quality thrower or lifter "hide" their training is that, usually, it is so damn simple.
John let me look at his training diaries and I was shocked to see that he did run an 880 (800 meters) before each practice and recorded the splits for each lap. He then did sit-ups, dips and pull ups. And recorded his numbers. He did clean grip snatches, he calls them "push presses," with 135 for sets of five, then did a very simple three day a week program.
Then, he worked on the disc. If he got bored, he did drills, if he found a problem, he spent a lot of time thinking about it and fixing it. He hung around quality people who could help him fix his lifts and throws.
So, some guy comes up in a meet and asks Brian: "how do you train?" Brian says: "power cleans, jerks off the rack, sprints, and I throw three days a week."
Guy wants to hear: I microperiodize the loads, blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. Or he wants to hear that Brian does exactly what the guy does THIS week! John told me that nobody every believes the good guys. Everyone thinks they have a "secret." Then, of course, this guy walks away and says to his buddies: drugs.
It is really simple stuff. My great throwers are good at power snatches and overhead squats. They throw about 15 to 20 full throws a day. They run hills twice a week. So, I go to a clinic, show how I teach the disc, give the coaches every detail of our training.