Bulking for Throwers
Throwers are heavyweight athletes, that’s just a fact. Most of us have always been the big kids in our class, and we were lucky enough to find a sport that uses our size as an advantage. Since we all know that mass moves mass, if we can increase our mass, we should be able to throw farther, right? Well, as you may have guessed there are some considerations to be made when thinking of putting on weight. Mass gain can help throwing and lifting success, but it’s important that it be done in the proper way. Ideally, a slow, gradual bulk will be much more beneficial to you than a speedy 2-month, 20lb gain. I’ve put on about 70 pounds since I graduated high school in 2013, but most of that has been in a fairly even, 10-20lb/year increase. The fastest I’ve put on weight since graduating has been about 20 pounds in the 8 months since I moved to Leesport to train at Garage Strength. This sort of slow-but-steady view is important for several reasons.
First, we want to make sure we are putting on the right kind of weight. It won’t really help you in your weight room or in-circle pursuits if you put on 20lbs of fat. Slower gaining means that you are pacing your weight to allow for more muscle mass increases. Further, the way your body moves will be impacted. Every change in your body can alter your leverages and balance as an athlete. Whether you notice it or not, you will throw differently if you’re 250lbs vs. 275lbs. That’s just a fact of how your body is proportioned and moving through space. With this difference in proprioception, the technical changes you worked for all year might go out the window, simply because you’re moving differently now.
Gaining weight will also impact your connective tissues in a number of ways. Most obviously, if you are heavier, there will be more stress on your ligaments, tendons, and joint capsules. Connective tissues grow much slower than muscle fibers, and so they need time to adapt to this change. You are also going to be impacting your flexibility and mobility, and increased weight spread over more time gives you the chance to continue improving flexibility and mobility with your changing body shape.
Finally, as much as runners don’t want to admit it, throwers are athletes, and dynamic athletes at that. We have to be able to move and feel our bodies in space. That sort of kinesthetic awareness and proprioception are keys in feeling technical changes and ripping huge throws. Adding (or even losing) weight is going to mean your body will be moving through the space around you differently, so things will feel different. The same old idea is there: if you are able to make those differences happen more slowly, you’ll give your body a better chance to adapt and use it to your advantage, rather than throwing you off completely.