Thanks for stopping by and checking out our next installment of the Ace the ACFT Series. This week we go over the Standing Power Throw (SPT). If you missed last weeks 3RM Deadlift breakdown, it can be found here!

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Standing Power Throw (SPT)

                As the deadlift is a basic, traditional power lift, the SPT is an explosive, fast-twitch muscle movement requiring speed, flexibility, and balance. Here at Forager Fitness, we LOVE this event. Like the deadlift, this adds yet another dynamic to the fitness test that was neglected in the old APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test).

                Ironically, this event (not the deadlift) have brought several soldiers to the doctor for back pain. This is most likely due to tight hip flexors being quickly mobilized without proper mobility/warm-up thus translating to undesirable forces placed on the back structures.


The exact standards for the SPT can be found here on the Army’s ACFT webpage.

The SPT follows the 3RM deadlift which is an event that requires immense core stability and orchestration/coordination between the lower and upper body. This is where the hip flexors come into play (most notably, the iliopsoas muscle). Where the hip flexors act as stabilizers during the deadlift and can become tight, during the SPT they need to be mobile and allow end range of motion (ROM).

                First thing’s first, for this event, the proper level of hip and shoulder mobility is optimal for event success. For a throw behind your head, that needs to travel a substantial distance, if you can’t achieve end ROM in the hips and shoulders, whatever strength you have to throw that ball will be extremely muted.

Check the image of the iliopsoas structure to the right (iliacus + psoas = iliopsoas). See how this structure originates in the lower back and inserts into the femurs? Proper hip extension requires great mobility of these muscles to achieve full hip ROM. In contrast, if these muscles are tight, tension will be placed on the lower back when the hips are extended (i.e. chronic back pain due to prolonged sitting position, “desk jockey’s.”)


                Work on opening up the hips consistently (or at least a few days before); make sure you’re getting out of your office chair and stretching your psoas, hip flexors, quads, and abdominal muscles. Make sure your lats are nice and loose so you can get that full shoulder range of motion to send the ball back and up! Below is a phenomenal video that goes over lat and thoracic spine mobility.

                Once this level of mobility is achieved, you can now coordinate your strength with the fundamental purpose of this exercise: Triple extension. Triple extension is what all Olympic lifting athletes master in order to control, harness, and transfer energy into a successful heavy lift. Its when the ankles, hips, and knees are completely extended, optimizing the force applied to the object you want to move (in this case throw).

Take a look at the video below of our good friend Jared Enderton, 2018 Crossfit Games Athlete. Notice how his hips, knees, and ankles are in a high degree of extension before he dips under the bar to catch the snatch. THAT, my friend, is triple extension.

According to Suchomel, Comfort, and Stone (2015) in regards to achieving triple extension in olympic lifts:

“Practitioners should emphasize the completion of the triple
extension movement during the second pull phase that is
characteristic of weightlifting movements as this is likely
to have the greatest transference to athletic performance
that is dependent on hip, knee, and ankle extension” (p. 1).

Success in this event rides upon effectively targeting the strength coordination and orchestration of the triple extension. First thing’s first, technique MUST be solid and coordinated throughout your throw. Once this is nailed down, and the maximum amount of energy is transferred to the object being acted upon, loading can be added. This can be in the form of cleans/snatches, kettlebell swings, and even overloaded SPT’s.


From personal experience, what surprised me the most in regards to the STP was how much the ball needed to travel “up” rather than “out.” I was amazed how much power i had to transfer to the ball in order for it to have the required hang-time and make it passed the 12.5 meter target. Work on the accessories below for ultimate success. Trust me.

Accessory Focus for the SPT

                1. Heavy kettlebell complex

                                -Double handed, 1:1 (Russian swing, American Swing)

                2. Power Cleans and Power Snatches

                3. Heavy SPT

4. Box jumps & Broad jumps


-Rob and Nik



Cover Photo Credit: Photo by Kevin Fleming, U.S. Army.

Suchomel, T. J., Comfort, P., & Stone, M. H. (2015). Weightlifting pulling derivatives: Rationale for implementation and application. Sports Medicine45(6), 823-839.


5 thoughts on “How to Max the Standing Power Throw (SPT) – Ace the ACFT

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