The guy who wrote it is Shaun Pickering, a world class shotputter
I do remember a similar study being performed by Gideon Ariel on the US throwers if the late ’70s/early ’80’s, where throwers like Plucknett, Wilkins and Burns were all shown to have Big Max Bench Presses, in excess of 600lbs. What was interesting is that they also tested Oldfield, who only had a Max of around 450lbs, but the speed that he was able to move it at gave him a far greater level of Power than the others.
More recently, there was a German study, published I believe by Schmidtbleicher about 6 years ago, which pointed to a problem amoung many of their top shot putters. They were pointing out that their top male throwers,(Buder I suspect) had a Bench Press max of 280kgs (600lbs or so) but when tested with a load of 15kg, (the equivalent of a shot in each hand) the male shot putters were producing lower power than some of the female throwers. This study led to the advice to concentrate more on lifting for power than max strength, moving lighter weights fast, rather than heavy…and slow…max strength training.
The important factor here is applicable strength, which in this case is the ability to move a 7.26kg ball as fast as possible. I personally believe that the importance placed on Maximum Bench Press levels is misplaced, and my particular focus in my training was to specifically train for power.
I was lucky enough to work with a machime called a MuscleLab, which among other things allowed me to measure my power in my lifts and also to train with biofeedback. By this I mean that I would set the power level that I wanted to achieve for each rep in a set, and I could monitor each attempt by visual or audible signals, while performing the exercise. This allowed me to focus on lifting for power, at whatever weight I was working at.
The other important factor here was that I would work at a level of around 70% 1RM for sets of 5. The peak of the power curve, ie the weight at which you produce the highest power output, is usually around 45% of 1RM, which I am pretty sure that very few top Shot Putters ever work out at. While the peak is at 45%, the power level is very close to this peak level from about 30% 1RM to 70% 1RM. Lifting at the higher end of this range helps to move the “Force/Power” to the right, which means increasing both strength.
From my own experience, I had some very positive results working only in this range. When I started training again in 1995, having not lifted for eight years, and even then was not much of a bench presser, I concentrated on 5×5 reps as fast as I could. I built up over about three months to where I could perform a 5×5 at 125kg, and that remained my basic workout in the Bench Press. When I tried my max for the one and only time, having never lifted any more that 125kg, I was able to lift 180kg. This gave me confidence in that my max was at a reasonable level, and I never tried it again, although I could read my estimated max from the MuscleLab.
With regard to your specific question about a direct comparison between athletes, I only have some anecdotal evidence from my own experience. We used the MuscleLab to test a number of British Athletes at a national squad training get-together a couple of years ago. When testing different athletes it is important to try to keep the methodology as standard as possible, so we would use a Concentric Bench Press, where you would include a one second pause at the bottom of the lift, ie at the chest. This prevents cheating, bouncing and hip thrusts and the like, and tries to keep the exercise to an Arm only exercise as much as possible. Myself and Mark Proctor were both tested in this way, and we both had similar Shot Put PR’s at the time. Mark’s training was more based upon maximum strength and heavier weights, and his estimated 1RM in this concentric Bench was 180kg, compared to my own which was only 150kg. Similarly, Mark’s max power levels were also higher than mine, but not as great a margin. However, when you extrapolate the power levels at 15kg, ie the weight of a shot in each hand, my power level was about 30% greater than Mark’s. That same day we both threw together, with myself throwing 19.80m and mark struggling to reach 18m.
Andy Bloom’s results with this same test gave him an estimated 1RM in the concentric Bench at 165kg, which Andy seemed very dissappointed with, but his power curve was incredibly impressive, showing extremely high speeds and power levels with lighter weights.
For further information on the MuscleLab machine, you can check out http://www.ergotest.com
One other important piece of information which relates to this, is the benefit that this type of training has on Testosterone production, which of course has a direct effect on power. Carmelo Bosco, and Italian exercise physiologist who is very active in this area has shown that lifting at maximum levels is very beneficial to the Testosterone production in the body. This is why people rely on Max Bench Press to increase speed in Bench Press. However I found it more beneficial to use Olympic Lifts, in my case Hang Snatch, to try to utilise this benefit. This is used very effectively by Jonathon Edwards, the Triple Jumper. During the competitive season he finds that lifting once every 7-10 days is sufficient when the lifting sessions are performed at a very high level. Usually he with perform 3 sets of singles or doubles in the Power Clean or Snatch at near Maximum levels. At 70kg bodyweight, he has power cleaned 150kg….
Unfortunately, I did not test Adam Nelson recently, when he was no longer concentrating on Heavy Bench Press, and I regret this. The information on Adam was from 1998, when he was quite strong in the Bench press, although his power was very impressive. Robert Weir, who we tested at the same time had a much higher Bench Press Max, but much lower power than Adam.
I hope that you find this information useful. I certainly believe that Max Bench Press is over rated as a marker, particularly for spinners (or more accurately efficient spinners) and I would be more concerned with moving reasonable weights fast.
A similar approach to leg work is taken. One important factor that has to be considered is to try to get constant acceleration through the lift, looking for high speed at the top of the lift. This is true for both Bench and Squats.
I would work with usually sets and reps in the 5 x 5 range, at around 70% of 1RM, with only a few variations. The intention was that every rep should be at a minimum of 90% of the maximum POWER at that particular weight. If the power was below that level, you are no longer developing Fast Twitch fibres, but rather increasing Slow Twitch, which is detrimental to the system, at least for a thrower. Singles at this level are not that valuable if you can lift five reps at the same power, without dropping below that 90% max power level. For some people this might be 4 reps or 6 reps, but for me this was 5 reps, as the sixth rep was definitely slower than the fifth.
Another way of looking at this was the heaviest weight with which you can perform 5 reps in six seconds. This gives a good indication of what the appropriate weight would be for a set when working for power.
One important reason for me following this programme was the unnacceptable risk of injury for me peforming heavy squats. Having suffered from Chronic Back problems for more than 15 years, my back was always going to be the weak link in the equation. I flound that I could get more than acceptable results from moving reasonable weights fast, so my workouts were usually 5 x 5’s at a weight of 140kg-180kg. The heaviest squat that I ever attempted was 230kg for five reps, which is nothing special for a shot putter. I could however see my power increasing, and my estimated 1RM was also increasing.