Maximal Strength in the Shot Put: Point of Diminishing Returns In the Bench Press

The shot put finish is performed within a brief period of .15-.18 seconds according to science.  It has been shown that individuals who improve their bench press from 135lbs to 330lbs can also show an increased rate of force production, the key component in the shot put.  According to Zatsiorsky, it has been found that elite, 21m shot putters are able to apply 130-140lbs within that short time frame of .15-.18 seconds.  

If most of these elite individuals bench press between 480 and 530lbs we can conclude a few things. They develop 130lbs on their finish from one arm.  If they bench press 500lbs, one arm is contributing approximately 250lbs to the press.  When we analyze the force production in the .15-.18 period, they are only capable of recruiting approximately half of that force during the throw (from a strict upper body analysis).  

With these numbers in our arsenal, we can conclude a few things and of course, question a few things.  If the increase in maximal strength from 500lbs to 600lbs occurs, is there going to be a recruitment of 150lbs on the finish of the throw? Not really.  The problem becomes the fact that the body still has to overcome an eccentric/isometric movement to spark a concentric movement with incredible acceleration.  With such a short period to accelerate the implement (.15-18 seconds), it becomes more effective to train the body to rapidly overcome eccentric positions.  

It is my understanding that once an athlete achieves a bench press between 480-530lbs, the focus MUST change to explosive strength.  I also believe, as an athlete moves from a novice area (bench press 300lbs) to a more intermediate area (400lbs) they still must focus on the quality of overcoming eccentric forces by using upper body plyometric movements.  Maximal strength is imperative in developing a strong finish in the shot put BUT so is plyometric strength.  Be sure to use both strength qualities when developing a shot putter or discus thrower.

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