Shot Put - Westside Style by Jeremy Herring

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I have employed the conjugate system of training with my throwers’ lifting program for four years with tremendous success. One highlight in the weight room was taking a male thrower with a 385-lb squat freshman year to a 615-lb squat/500-lb front squat as a junior. We also had a thrower make a 60-lb PR in the hang clean after not attempting a single training rep in that lift for six months.

This being said, I only toyed with the idea of bringing this system out of the weight room and into the throwing ring my first three years at Florida International University (FIU). However, last year was the first year that I was able to make this transition, and our results far out-produced all other more traditional shot put methods that I’ve used. (My data, though, only measures the results of one annual plan following the conjugate system of shot put training.) 

Results
The data presented here is only a reflection of my throwers on the women’s team. The mean average for my group’s top high school throws was 40’ 5”. The average of their top throws the year preceding implementation of the conjugate system of training was 42’ 7.25”. This low level of improvement caused me to ask many questions about what we were doing different in the shot put because our discus results were taking off. (I’m not including data from the hammer and
javelin because none of my throwers had any prior experience with these events, which dictates a faster rate of development than the shot and disc that they had been throwing in high school).

After thinking about why our training gains were disproportional in the shot and disc, I realized that we were training these events exactly the same way. My first thought was that it’s working in the discus so why isn’t it working in the shot? I then came to the realization that most of us know already—these events are different! While all throwing events share basic elements, there are stark differences in the shot and disc.

So with this being said, why would both events be trained using identical training protocols (I’m not talking about drills or technique but training protocol)? Anyhow, once I came to this obvious realization, I decided that the conjugate system would be a perfect fit for my group’s shot put training. I spent the off-season deciding how I would go about setting up this type of training plan, and I implemented it in mid-fall training (late October) after we had increased our levels of preparedness through early fall training. After one season of utilizing my version of the conjugate system for the shot put, the mean average of my group went from 42’ 7.25” to 49’ 5” in one year.

Program design

We’ve always varied the weights of our implements in training from 6–12 lb training shots with the percentage of usage of underweight, competition weight, and overweight shots dependant on the phase of the season. However, currently, we utilize heavy implements (12-lb shot) on our “maximum effort” day and light implements (6-lb shot) on our “dynamic effort” day. We use
our competition weight (4 k) implement for competition only. Our shot put training is only done
on these two days.

Maximum effort day

We start each maximum effort training session with an event specific warm-up including part-to-whole dry drills without any implements. We do several technical drills working on posture, rhythm, balance, footwork, and timing, all within actual throwing segments on both dominate and non-dominate sides of the body.

This warm-up takes about 15–20 minutes and prepares the body for the throwing portion of the workout. Once the warm-up is complete, we are ready to begin the max effort training for the day. We select one, and only one, special exercise similar to a competitive effort throw. We rotate using a different special exercise each week. We never take any full competitive type throws on ME day. We do take 10–12 single efforts and measure and record daily “bests” for each special exercise.

ME special exercises
Power position throw
Step back throw (2–3 steps)
Hop back throw (single-multiple hops)
Kneeling put

Dynamic effort day
This day is designed to incorporate all technical elements in a full competition type throw. On this day, we use an underweight (6 lb) shot exclusively. We haven’t measured results on this day because the main focus is placed on the neurological response to high speed full competition throws. We generally do 15 sets of two throws on our DE day.

I know that this style of training isn’t typical, but I wasn’t after typical results. I wasn’t concerned with following the norm or afraid of going against the grain. My only concern was that my throwers were putting in quality work and reaping the benefits in the discus, hammer, and javelin but seemed to be beating a dead horse in the shot put. I felt it was my job to find a solution to our problem by any means necessary.

Because we’ve only followed this type of training for one year, there isn’t any long term data. However, we’re constantly changing what we are doing in search of a better way. All that I know is that in the short time that I’ve been at FIU, we’ve had regional and national qualifiers in every throwing event (except the shot) each year. Last year was the first year that we utilized the conjugate system in the shot, and we had our first two regional qualifiers. Train hard, train smart, and throw far.

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Submitted by DMorgan on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 7:39pm.

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