Six pack. Let's go ahead and admit it now - you don't have one and it's not on your current goal list. Why? Because you want to throw far, and in the Scottish Highland Games, mass moves mass. So, if you don't care to be in the next Baywatch movie, what's the point of doing “abs” for throwing? Aside from back and trunk health benefits, it will help your throwing. Period.
Leading up the 2014 season, I had this idea that greater ab work (some laugh at “core” or “trunk,” so I'll go with “ab work”) would help my throws, specifically the hammer. As I've described elsewhere, I coach and throw the hammer in a downward “chop” motion. So, I figured the ab wheel/ab rollouts would help. Well, they did. I rolled those abs all the time, and they remain a staple of my training to this day.
Some are of the opinion that you do enough ab work during your throws practices and the season just by throwing. As great as this sounds, I wish it were true, at least that's my opinion. As many thousands of throws I would take in a season, I should look like I'm just a tan and oil short of a bodybuilding show. Throwing, especially the Highland Games, is such a violent game of initiation, brace, torque, and grit (I needed a fourth word so I could use another comma). Because of that violence to your mid section, I believe you must do abs at least three times a week, in season and off season. I like to do two exercises each day and to change it up from day to day. For example, crunches at 3x30 and planks at 3x30 seconds. The next day may be ab rollouts 3x10 and plate twists 3x15 each way.
Think of them as another muscle group but, quite honestly, we hate doing them. Chances are, if you're in this sport, you're not the leanest person in the world … I know I'm not. Thus, ab work doesn't come as easy to us, and, it's boring. So, we tell ourselves that we throw so much, so we get more ab work than we really need.
For this season, maybe you try blasting those abs like it's your job? Trust me, your back will thank you, your belt will wear in a new hole, you'll feel like you can jog on beaches, and, most importantly, your throws will soar to new heights and distances. Below are a few exercises to get you started!
AB WHEEL: Using an actual ab wheel or makeshift version from round plates on your barbell, kneel down and roll out until your face almost touches the ground. Return to the original position. For variances in this, try rolling out with an arch to the right side, then left, then
center; roll out, hold your position just above the ground, and “punch” your arms straight out in
from of you as many times as possible before falling. I sometimes like to roll out and even hold
my position for a five second count. Sorinex makes what is called the, “Gluteham Roller,” which is great for this exercise, in addition to the lower extremity movements.
PLANKS: Hold your body up on your elbows and toes. Hold this position. Target a 30 second or more hold. For variances, try side planks, planks while rolling your hips from side to side, etc.
CRUNCHES: fold hands over chest, crunch up to bent knees.
LEG LIFTS: Hold onto bench head while feet are off the ground, straight. Slide down so your
butt is at the end of the bench. Lift legs up and down. For a challenge, left legs up, then shoot
them straight into the air towards the ceiling while coming back down slowly.
WINDSHIELD WIPERS: Laying on floor, hold onto a rack, stationary bar, etc. and hold your legs just inches off the ground. Sway your feet back and forth, all the way up even with your
MEDBALL SIT UP: Hold a medicine ball over your head while your feet are on the ground in a sit up position. As you sit up, overhead throw the ball to a partner or against the wall. Catch, and return slowly to the start position.
GLUTEHAM SIT UPS: Flip over on the gluteham and do sit ups from there, at the level or depth that you can effectively do.
GLUTEHAM TWISTS: Lay, as normal, in the gluteham developer and hold a med ball or plate out in front of you, face towards the ground. Twist side to side while holding the plate or ball straight out in front of you.
PLATE TWISTS: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a weight
plate out in front of you, twisting side to side. Mentally focus on bracing your mid-section.
SIDE THROWS: Grab a medicine ball with both hands while standing perpendicular to a wall.
SIDE TO SIDE PLATE/BAL: Sit on your butt. Cross your feet with your knees bent and close to your chest. With both hands, grip a weight plate or medicine ball on one side of your body.
While holding your feet off the ground, move the ball or plate side to side without touching your
Rotate your body and throw the ball into the wall. Catch, return to the original position and
throw again. Do this without stopping until rep count complete. Switch sides.