The shot put isn’t just for track and field athletes. This is a great exercise to incorporate full body movement. We hit the trunk, core, and upper body with this one. But let’s ditch that small metal ball and grab our medicine balls instead. Plus, there are progressions and regressions that make this exercise appropriate for a wide range of people. From young athletes to the aging population, the shot put will enhance any body’s capabilities. High performing individuals will increase their power and speed while the older population will benefit by keeping an enhanced power medium, which is the first thing lost with age. By incorporating a move like the shot put into our training regimen, we are essentially stopping that pesky age thing from taking our power component away from us. Keeping that power is what keeps our body functioning well and decreases the chance of injury. But, before I sound like I have found the Fountain of Youth, not everyone should be practicing the shot put. Those of us with a lower back that won’t tolerate rotary exercises at the spine should avoid it.
The basic form of a shot put is standing with feet wider than shoulder width apart, meant for optimal power to push off of the backside hip. We should line up like a batter facing a pitcher; only the pitcher is a wall approximately eight feet away. With your left shoulder closest to the wall, bring the ball up to underneath the chin. Your right arm should be cocked back, with the elbow behind the hand. The left arm is tucked in close to your body. Load the weight into your right leg and push off of it while your right arm presses the ball through. As you push off the back leg, the front leg should plant itself firmly. Even though our upper body is moving the ball, the emphasis is on the hip movement because that is where a majority of the power comes from. If you have ever played baseball/softball, the hips in a shot put should feel similar to batting. The press is angled downward and the back leg follows through to end with your body facing the wall. The movement should be done with explosive power. However, we don’t want to rotate our lower back while loading up, which is a common mistake. Imagine the body staying along a horizontal track in order to load the back hip. The back arm may also tend to go upward or outward, like a throw, instead of pressing through along a straight downward line. This is the middle ground for a shot put. From here, we will look at a regression, which will broaden the population that can benefit from this exercise.
The half-kneeling shot put (for the left side) has our left knee on the ground with the foot flexed. Your toes should dig into the ground to help keep yourself planted. The right leg is at a 90 degree angle, directly in front, with the heel on the ground. Our hips and chest are in straight alignment, facing the wall about four feet away. Hold the ball at chest level, keeping both arms at about 45 degrees. Now we want to load our power center. Sit back into the left hip, bringing the ball with the movement. By sitting back into the hip and keeping our upper body aligned, the arms will naturally mimic the same position as the standing shot put. The basic rules still apply here, we are emphasizing the hip movement and putting our main power source there while the back arm presses the ball through. The half-kneeling regression is great for getting a feel of the hip movement, and also building up that power to progress the movement further.