New Lessons in the Weight Throw

First lets back up. Kamloops has an annual indoor meet called the Van Wryswick Invitational. This year it was on Valentine’s Day weekend and the weight happened to be contested just as we were finishing our second session of the day. Bondarchuk thought it’d be fun if we competed. I threw a result that led me to believe I could make some money at USA Indoors. So I went to Boston!

Our reason for not throwing weight all this time was not because I couldn’t do it anymore. The event is not conducive for developing an efficient relationship with the hammer. So obviously at a time in my career where we were completely overhauling everything, the weight was a bad idea. My list of reasons for when it is okay to throw the weight haven’t changed though. Not that you need my permission, but a few include: collegians (obviously), or the opportunity to make money at USA indoors. Also if you just love to throw the thing! I can respect that, that’s your prerogative.

True or False?

Claim: The weight improves hammer

→ Verdict: False.

In fact, I now believe the hammer improves the weight. I haven’t touched a weight in years. So in studying my current technique with the few throws I took in the last two weeks, I discovered it was immediately better than it had ever been when I was a 25-meter thrower back in the day. I threw with bent arms, bent at the waist, you name it before. But I was the most athletic I’ve ever been, so I could get away with it. I’d bet $4 that would not happen the other way around. I have taken A LOT of throws since moving to Kamloops. I am specifically strong. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that I am stronger through the hammer movement. Pretty conclusive.

Over the years, the U.S. has produced countless men between 70 to 80 feet, yet 75 meters is a rarity in our country. Where is the evidence that confirms that the weight is a useful training tool for hammer? The evidence that is clear only proves the vast difference between the events.

Claim: Weight is good for hammer special strength

→ Verdict: To a certain degree, yes, but mostly false.

The weight can be a fine tool to get some extra throwing reps in. But so are most things. Remember the most efficient special strength exercise comes from doing the movement itself, with the implement itself. From what I’ve seen, there are very few people specifically strong enough to throw the weight efficiently. By that I mean no signs of the implement overpowering you. Dropping on entry because muscles aren’t strong enough, etc. When I was throwing, as strong as I was, I was still weak in most throwing positions. Just look at those screen shots comparing my 25-meter technique (left) to a recent training (right):


Some coaches have been preaching the benefits of weight to hammer throwers for decades. What’s that called again when you’re doing or saying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Oh yeah . . . insanity.


I really enjoyed tossing the weight around for a couple weeks! Those who know me know I wanted to throw a bit further in Boston, but alas, this event does not matter [for me]. To throw it far, you have to throw. And that’s not a sacrifice I will most likely make again. Unless there’s financial incentive. Like, say . . . a sponsored world record chase next year in Portland at World Indoors

Every few years, there are an outstanding number of athletes throwing far and getting many of us excited for what’s possible when the hammer comes around in the summer. However, these expectations have never been realized because the weight does not predict hammer success. BUT, what my years have taught me is weight throw success is a strong indicator of hammer potential. The potential is there.

Occasionally when I speak this way, some people take it as “weight bashing”, whatever the hell that is. I am not bashing. Don’t be so sensitive. I am simply trying to shed light on the error in using the status quo to justify doing something for sake of doing it. For me, this discussion comes down to one’s own expectations and goals. If you love the weight not expecting to have a future in hammer, by all means, throw the weight and have fun!

Bottom line: Do what you love. But sacrifices must be made to get where you’ve never been.

Kibwe JohnsonComment