He tips the scales at 315 pounds and can hurl a 16-pound metal ball over 70 feet. So how does this mountain of a man maintain his power and strength? We asked Hoffa that very question. Check out what America's top shot putter has to say about nutrition, weight training, and staying injury free.
What's your typical day like?
I usually start with breakfast that includes things like oatmeal and maybe a ham sandwich for protein. I leave the house around 9:30 a.m. and get to the track and do a warm-up in the training room. I generally start stretching on the track by 10 a.m. Then a light jog of maybe 100 meters. Practice starts at 11 a.m. and I throw till about 12:30 p.m. before going inside to the weight room to do whatever lifting workout for the day until about 3 p.m. Then I go home and have a big sandwich or protein shake. That's it.
So lunch is usually your big meal?
Yeah, lunch is definitely my big meal of the day. I have a semi large breakfast because I have to go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but my biggest meal is when I get home. I try to put as much food in my face as possible.
Does your dinner consist of a lot of smaller snacks?
It's generally a lot of lettuce, some kind of carb, and a meat product.
What types of weight workouts do you do?
On a Monday it's all upper-body shoulder stuff. I do military, lat pulls, lat pulldowns, some twisting exercises just for core, and then a little running. I'm trying to keep it as light as possible because I don't want to do anything too crazy the day before I throw. My problem is that my upper body is so strong that if my back isn't strong enough to handle the tension of my upper body pulling everything forward then it pulls on my shoulders giving me shoulder problems. Working on the back actually keeps me injury free. For lower body we do a lot of plyometric stuff — 100-meter sprints, stair sprints, squats. We try to keep everything pretty balanced.
Has your weight stayed mainly at 285 over the past few years?
I haven't weighed 285 since college. I weigh around 315 now. It's really hard to get people to change my bio. One time they had me at 250 and I haven't weighed that since high school. I'm glad you asked because I'm trying to let people know I am indeed over 300 pounds. The way it works for me is the more my strength goes up and the more muscle I'm putting on my body, my weight goes up in relation. If I get too heavy too fast I can feel it when I'm throwing. So I know I have to lose weight and get it down to optimal training. What happens is I get too heavy and it puts more stress on my joints and more stress on my back and I get these aches and pains more than I normally would through repetition of training. Right now, I need to stay around 313-315. If I get much bigger than that and I get too slow and I start feeling it in my back and my knees.
Are you heavier now then in Athens?
In Athens, I was about 290 or 295.
You've had a lot more success in the past couple years. Has the extra weight been the difference?
I would think it has. For me it's all about getting the ratio between strength and weight. If I'm not strong enough to support that weight my throws are going to suffer. I have to make sure that I'm strong enough to handle that weight if I'm going to put that weight on.
How do you adjust your training so that you don't peak too early?
We really train as hard as we can for as long as we can before competition season begins. You build a huge base of strength in fall and from March until this time now, until your first meet. You use this reservoir of strength throughout the season. You build from here and there but you're not gonna really build that much since you're traveling and just recovering from meets. When you get to the trials, you back off enough from normal training so that when you get there you feel the best you've ever felt because you've done just enough to stimulate the muscles but not too much so your muscles aren't firing as fast as they need to.
Is there a technical difference for you versus a guy like Christian Cantwell who's 6-foot-5 and weighs 350 pounds?
I guess a little bit. Christian is a very big, powerful guy. For me it's all about speed and power. He'll spend more time in the weight room just getting stronger whereas I'm going to spend more time in the weight room working on my speed and utilizing my technique to get the max amount of distance. Being 5 inches shorter gives me 5 inches more ring to use to create more rotational speed and more linear drive across the ring. He has to fall in the middle of the ring so he doesn't push and has to use a lot more strength.
Will your U.S. teammates be the toughest competition or are there other international guys we should be looking out for?
Joakim Olsen from the Netherlands will be very tough. I know he's gearing up to try to throw 22 meters in the Olympics, which will threaten any American.
Are there three or so exercises that regular guys can do to bulk up like a shot putter?
The first one is a seated military. I really try to put my feet away from my body because I see a lot of people in the gym who cock their feet next to the bench and you can actually use your legs to get a push, which cheats a little bit. I like to isolate my shoulders by putting my feet away from my body flat on the ground and really just work the shoulders. Instead of doing them really fast I like to do three seconds up, three seconds down, just feeling the burn and squeezing the weights at the top together, bringing it down where it touches the outside of my shoulder and pushing it back up. I like to do a cable fly where you take it all the way out and squeeze it right when you pull it in front of your body. You take it all the way out with palms out and all the way back in and hit palm to palm and feel the squeeze in the middle of the pec. Also, a bent-over fly is great. Some people bend their elbows, I like to keep it straight out and keep the weight as far from my body as possible. Keeping it parallel. That's three that are good for the shoulders and back. You should see some growth with that.
One last question. Can you really solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute?
Yeah. It varies but when I'm on it doesn't matter how you mix it up. I can see the colors and do it under a minute easy. If you gave me a week where I didn't have anything to do, I could definitely get under a minute consistently. I started in college my junior year. I saw a kid on the bus do it and thought it was pretty cool. So everywhere I went I'd be messing with it. I worked at a place called Dial America and would be working on it while talking on the phone. By the time I went to Beijing for the World University Games, I could do it in 45 seconds.