Archive for “Push Ups” Tag

Bodyweight Training Progressions – Jordan Tingman

bodyweight training exercises - plyo push upsAsk any strength coach, and they will tell you that most athletes lack strength, control and mobility in many basic bodyweight training exercises. Utilizing bodyweight training, “can result in both physical strength and stamina” (Harrison, 2010).  This is why bodyweight training progressions are such an important part of any strength training program.

We often think that bodyweight training is very simple, so we don’t spend much time thinking about it.  We want to rush into more advanced training methods because they seem more exciting.  Unfortunately, when we skip over fundamentals, it catches up to us down the road.  Spending time teaching and perfecting bodyweight training exercises has the potential to pay big dividends as athletes mature, so this should be an integral part of any youth training program.

When it comes to younger or female athletes, upper body exercises such as the pull up or push up tend to be difficult. With the squat, maintaining proper posture is difficult for many athletes due to a wide variety of mobility or kinesthetic awareness issues.

Instead of being taken through a proper progression, we often see athletes struggle through sloppy reps or force themselves into positions they can’t maintain.  Fortunately, there are ways to modify these exercises that allow athletes to perform them correctly while utilizing the correct muscles.

This article will highlight three of the basic bodyweight training exercises that are often performed incorrectly, and it will describe simple progressions to ensure long-term success.

Push-up:

A few of the most common flaws seen during the push up are lack of upper body strength, elbows flared out, improper hand positioning and lack of core strength to maintain stability and posture throughout the movement.

Here is an example of a proper bodyweight push up:

  • Plank position in the core is maintained throughout the entirety of the exercise.
  • Elbows are at a 45 degree or closer angle from the body, emphasizing proper use of upper body musculature, and not overstressing the shoulder joint.
  • Hands placed just under and outside the arm-pit, not even with the head like is commonly seen.
  • Body is lowered in a controlled manner until the elbow joint is below a 90 degree angle.

If an individual lacks upper body strength, the push up can be modified by elevating the surface in which the hands are placed.

This surface can be anything that is elevated and allows the individual to maintain proper core stability throughout the movement.  This could be a box, bench, or bar on a squat rack.  As strength is developed, slowly lower the angle in which the push up is done until the athlete can perform a standard push up.

If an individual lacks a lot of core stability, a banded hip-supported push up can be used.  Attach a band around the safety catches and position the athlete so it’s under the hips during the push up. This alleviates the weight of the hips and aids in maintaining the plank posture throughout the movement. This can be progressed by using smaller bands until the individual can maintain hip posture throughout the entire movement.

If an athlete can maintain core position and effectively use the upper body muscles, but simply isn’t strong enough to perform many reps, an eccentric or isometric component can help.

Have the individual perform a 3-5 second eccentric and hold in the bottom position for one second before pushing up.  This builds strength and control in all positions of the movement.  If the athlete cannot perform the concentric portion of a push up at all, performing eccentrics can build that strength.  Athletes can perform 4-8 negatives, simply lowering slowly, then “rolling” back up to the top position for the next rep.  

As a coach, you can vary the amount of time of the eccentric or isometric portion, and vary the reps depending on the capabilities of the athlete.

Pull-up:

One of the hardest, but effective bodyweight training exercises is the pull-up.  Due to a lack of upper body strength, many athletes cannot perform even a single pull-up. Those who can perform a pull up tend to do it incorrectly. The most common issues include:

  • Lack of scapular retraction
  • Inability to start each rep with full arm extension 
  • Inability to get the chin above the bar with each rep

Placing a band around the J-hooks of a squat rack will give assistance to the most difficult position of the movement. Ensure that when the individual lowers their body, they still extend their arms into the bottom position.

To strengthen different positions of the pull-up, add an isometric component at the top or middle of the exercise. This reinforces proper positioning and strength in a variety of the positions of the pull up.  Emphasizing the eccentric component throughout the full range of motion is also very helpful when building strength in the movement.

As mentioned in the section about push-ups, you can manipulate the eccentric or isometric times and the number of reps to make the exercise more or less difficult.  This will be dependent on the capabilities and strengths of the athlete.  For example, an isometric hold at the top plus a 5 second negative is a great way to develop strength in young or large athletes who struggle with pull-ups.  

Squat:

One of most popular bodyweight training exercises is the squat, but it is also the one most commonly rushed through.  The most common mistake we see here is adding a load before the athlete can even maintain correct posture in an air squat or goblet squat.

We look ask these four questions when coaching the bodyweight squat:

  • Are they maintaining an upright posture throughout the entire movement?
  • Are their heels staying in contact with the ground throughout the movement?
  • Are they properly hinging at the hip before descending into a squat position?
  • Are they able to maintain an upright posture until the parallel position of a squat?

You should be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions before loading an athlete with a barbell.

A good initial assessment is to see whether the athlete can properly execute an air squat.

In this video, the arms are out to assist in maintaining an upright posture throughout the air squat.

Feet are slightly outside of shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out. This position can vary from individual to individual depending on what their bodily mechanics look like. If their heels are coming off of the floor, their foot position may be the first thing you need to manipulate.

If an individual has trouble maintaining an upright posture to the parallel position, a good way to work on this is to have them air squat to a target.


In this video, the individual is squatting to a box slightly below the parallel position.  This reinforces the hip hinging aspect of the squat and allows the coach to cue the athlete to maintain an upright posture until the box is touched.  You can also hold the bottom position (without putting any pressure on the box) to reinforce this position and strengthen the lower back.  

You can load this movement by adding a goblet hold while the individual squats to a box. Ensure the individual does not relax the core or rock back onto the box to gain momentum before standing up.  Again, an isometric hold at the bottom can help athletes feel correct posture.  

Squatting to a box may also allow the coach to assess issues in the squatting pattern.

Then once they can maintain an upright position to a box- you can take the box away and allow them to perform a Kettlebell Goblet Squat:


If the athlete shows instability while performing this movement, add a tempo to the eccentric portion and/or an isometric hold at the bottom.  This will reinforce correct body positioning throughout the squat.


While there are many different modalities that you can use as a coach, bodyweight training is an excellent way to lay a solid foundation.  In order to slowly progress athletes in these movements, the bodyweight training progressions above can help ensure long-term progress and success.  You can also use these exercises as a part of a complete strength training program that will continually reinforce the foundation you have developed.  

Citations:

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/04000/Bodyweight_Training__A_Return_To_Basics.5.aspx

Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University.  She is now working as a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist certification is the only course available that directly addresses the needs of the high school athlete.  Learn more about the HSSCS HERE:

Pushing Power in Athletics

Power in Athletics

When it comes to developing the ability to push someone around, a skill necessary for almost every team-based sport, there isn’t a better training tool than the push up.

I’m sure there are plenty of 5/3/1, Bigger Stronger Faster, or other weight room guys that will argue a big bench trumps someone who can crank out a bunch of push ups any day.

That’s when I refer to the great Earl Campbell and Herschel Walker, two incredibly successful and punishing running backs in the NFL, who reportedly were body weight training guys. They swore by push ups and body weight exercises and clearly had no problem pushing around the best in the world over and over.

Additionally, you have to look at the population of athletes in front of you. We have mostly late middle school or high school age kids who have a low training age and lack the ability to activate their entire body. The push up and its progressions give us an opportunity to teach that skill to our athletes.

More importantly, a girl that can crank out 10 full push ups and a boy that can knock out 25, in our experience, has a body well-prepared for sport and the contact typical of most team sports.

Finally, from a biomechanical standpoint, I look at the push up and see the direct correlation to pushing necessary for sport. The body stabilizes on the ground with four contact points, but the majority of the body MUST be active when pushing away from the ground. Otherwise, we might as well be doing the worm.

That pattern very closely resembles an athlete pushing someone on a field or court, with two legs on the ground and the entire body activated.

Conversely, when assessing the mechanics of a bench press, the back, glutes, and (sometimes) thighs are in contact with a stable surface. I don’t know of a situation in team sports where that much of the body comes in contact with a surface while pushing. The exception, of course, is being on the bottom of a pile of players after a tackle and pushing someone off you, which is not ideal for high performing athletes.

So let’s take a look at our progressions to get a young athlete crushing push ups on a regular basis!

Progressions:

Plank on elbows/hands

When doing a plank on the elbows or hands we are looking for rigidity of the entire body and will use various cues to teach each body part how to activate optimally:

  1. Active legs (straight as an arrow)
  2. Glutes (squeeze a quarter between the cheeks)
  3. Trunk (brace like someone is going to punch your gut)
  4. Shoulders (envision a towel between the elbows or hands and try to rip it apart)

The plank requires a lot of focus and should be difficult to hold for a long time. Therefore, we find it much more beneficial to teach athletes a plank by having them fire everything for brief periods (10-20 seconds) rather than hanging out in a plank for a minute with just enough activation to make it look good.


Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, in our world, don’t differ greatly from a plank. The only difference here is that the athlete now must learn to stabilize in a dynamic setting.

By only moving one leg at a time, they get the chance to maintain full body bracing, like the plank, while actively driving the knee towards the trunk.  Here, the athlete must be on his or her hands. Thus we implement a new cue, “push the ground away.”

By using that cue, the athlete now aggressively pushes his or her body away from the ground, giving the leg more room to move and activate the scapular stabilizers that are generally very weak and assist in poor posture with young athletes.

We also ask athletes to “torque the ground” with the intent of turning the hands away from each other. The hands shouldn’t move, but when torquing occurs, the arms become more active and better prepared for a push up later on in the progressions.

Once an athlete shows quality movement with the mountain climber, we will have him or her start to move the leg with aggression while stopping it at 90 degrees to the body. The exercise then turns into an excellent front leg drive drill for acceleration training.


Assisted Push Ups

We use two main variations of the standard push up to help young athletes progress towards completing a push up that is repeatable and consistent through fatigue.

Our first and most common assisted push up is completed via the use of a resistance band attached to the athlete’s body and a point well above the athlete’s body (typically 7-9 feet high on a rig or hook).

There are some significant benefits to this variation. First, the movement is quite similar to an unassisted push up from the ground. Second, the athlete can torque the ground with his or her hands and arms like we cue during an actual push up.

Once an athlete has developed sufficient assisted pushup strength and can perform the movement without the band, there is almost no adjustment necessary for a body weight push up.

There are, of course, limitations to any assisted pattern.

First, the core is supported during the assisted pushup and for many of our athletes who are stuck in anterior tilt, core strength is the limiting factor and sometimes allows them to continue doing the worm instead of a push up once the band is removed.

Second, we often miss full range of motion (ROM) with our younger athletes, particularly boys. They want to crank out 20 push ups because, “that’s what I did when I tested for football!” However, the only way their chest would touch the ground with their “testing push ups” would be if they had a 60-inch chest. And I have yet to see a 16-year-old that looks like Lou Ferrigno.

**We started using bean bags (like the ones used for bean bag toss) to force full ROM. Our athletes need to touch their chest to two bean bags stacked on top of each other and then progress to one bag before we take the band away and have them train the full push up. **

The other variation we use is an elevated barbell on a rack.

Again, there are both positives and negatives to this assisted push up variation.

First, it is great for younger female athletes who truly lack upper body strength. They can see gradual improvements in strength since the holes on our rack are 1-inch apart. They can make small gains, sometimes within a singular training session, and certainly over a 6-week training program.

Second, because of the height, those athletes who lack upper body strength can start to make significant gains in chest, shoulder, and arm strength since they don’t have to struggle through the pattern and can truly focus on form, positioning, and muscle tension.

But this variation also leads to some potential issues of which coaches need to be aware.

First, due to the angle the athlete is at, the shoulders tend to elevate once the chest and arms have fatigued. So you either need to stop the set before that point or cue the athlete’s “shoulders away from their ears.”

Second, since the hands are on the bar, not on the ground, torquing is nearly impossible. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven’t seen it done, but generally those just learning a push up can’t start pulling apart a bar plus do all the other things they need to do correctly.

Remember, this isn’t our end all, be all. Instead, it is a stepping stone from a mountain climber to a full push up from the floor.


Push Ups

The push up is our end all, be all. I fully believe an athlete does not need to train bench press unless they are required to test for their sport. For the sports required to test the bench, like football, there is enough contact and pushing involved in practice and play that it justifies working the bench press into programming.

However, no matter how advanced our athlete is starting out, I want to PERSONALLY see them do ten perfect push ups before they put their face under a bar and start benching.  All too often we have athletes come in who bench and are stuck at a certain weight.

When they show me their push up, it’s evident they lack the full body activation necessary to do a push-up. Once we train the push up correctly, they go back to the bench and magically set a new personal best.

The things we coach in a quality push up stay consistent with everything taught in the previous movements, but we add additional cues to maximize pushing power.

  1. Create rigidity through the body (body is one long piece of solid oak)
  2. Torque the ground through the hands (rotate the hands away from one another)
  3. Pull the body to the floor (rip the ground apart to give the chest space)
  4. Push down as your body comes up (push the ground away)

Once an athlete shows the ability to accomplish this and get his or her chest to the ground for a reasonable amount of push ups, we may add resistance in the form of plates on the athletes back. We had some strong male athletes rep out ten push ups with 90+ pounds on their back, so if you don’t think you can overload the push up, you’re wrong!

By taking the proper steps in progressing a young athlete through the push up, you will create a powerful, stable athlete capable of pushing around anyone he or she chooses.

And when the athlete returns to his or her team and can crush all teammates in push ups, they walk a little taller. When we as coaches can create confidence like that, we win!

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared


About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.

Career Highlights

  • 2014 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year – Fitness Business Insiders
  • 2014 IYCA Coach of the Year Finalist
  • Volunteer Strength Coach for West Madison Boys Hockey and Westside Boys Lacrosse
  • Helped develop dozens of scholarship athletes in 3 years of business
  • Instructed Kinesiology Lab at UW-Madison
  • Houses an internship program at F.I.T. that started in 2013
  • Member of Elite Mastermind Group of Nationwide Fitness Business Owners

Push Ups Help Develop Powerful Athletes:

Learn more power evolution techniques today.

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Teaching The Perfect Push Up To A Younger Athlete

 

Younger Athlete Push Ups Exercise

 

Push up for younger athlete from the IYCA

 

By Dave Gleason

 

Teaching the push up to a younger athlete can be arduous and complicated depending on physical maturity, body awareness, current skill and or experience. Let’s face it, in most scenarios the younger athlete has had no instruction, incomplete instruction or instruction with incorrect information. Once more, the opportunity to perform a push up is usually at the end of a practice, as a form of punishment or as an element of a timed standardized testing protocol. We know none of these story lines are optimal for any young athlete to achieve true success.

 

Creating a foundation where a younger athlete can progress to a push up worthy of actually performing as part of any training program is where we need to start.

In this video Dave Gleason, 2010 IYCA Trainer of the Year and owner of Athletic Revolution in Pembroke MA, shows you the progressions he uses with a younger athlete 10-13 years old.

 

 

How to Create a Strength Training Program For Young Athletes

Strength Training Program For Young Athletes

Strength training program design can get very complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. The bottom line is that you need to develop a well-rounded, comprehensive program that encourages hard work and progressive overload of the musculature. If those components are in place, you are well on your way to helping your athletes reap the benefits of a strength training program for young athletes.  Keep in mind that “young athletes” can mean just about anyone under 18 years old.  In this case, the program is mainly geared toward athletes 12-18 years old.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #1: Comprehensive

A strength training program for young athletes should address every major muscle group in the body: chest, upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, neck (for collision sports), abdominals, lower back, hips & glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Certain sports will focus more on a particular body part or require specialized work on smaller muscle groups (i.e. baseball pitchers will train the rotator cuff extensively), but all major muscle groups should be addressed. In general, an equal amount of work should be done on each side of a joint.

A strength training program for young athletes should address every major muscle group in the body.

Deficiencies can be overcome through a strength training program, but it generally takes specialized assessment to determine which muscles are deficient, and that is beyond the scope of this article.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #2: Progressive

Strength Training Program for Young Athletes

In order for any program to be effective, there must be a systematic and progressive overload of the musculature. In other words, athletes should systematically attempt to perform more work on a given exercise. For example, an athlete who can perform a maximum of 10 push-ups today should attempt to perform 11 repetitions at some point. When 11 can be performed, 12 should be attempted, and so on.

Progress can be made through any of the following: increasing the number of repetitions, increasing the amount of weight, increasing the number of sets, increasing the number of training days per week, decreasing the amount of rest time between sets, or a combination of any of these.

One of the easiest approaches is called “double progression.” To use this method, start by determining a range of repetitions you are going to use, for example 6-10 reps. If the athlete is unable to perform at least 6 reps, the weight is too heavy. If more than 10 reps can be performed, the weight is too light. During each workout, one more rep should be attempted until the top of the range (10 reps in this case) can be performed. When the top of the range is achieved, the weight will be increased at the next workout by the smallest amount possible.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #3: How many sets?

The number of sets used on an exercise or within a complete workout can vary greatly, but the following guidelines can be used. In most cases, 1-3 sets will be performed for each exercise and 15-20 working sets (not including warm-up sets) will be performed in the entire workout.

If fewer sets are used, each set should be performed with maximum intensity. In other words, the set should be taken to the point of momentary muscular fatigue, or no more reps can be performed. If the athletes are unable to perform with maximal intensity, it is generally a good idea to complete multiple sets of an exercise.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #4: How many reps?

While there is great debate of the number of repetitions that should be used in a set, it really should not be confusing. In general, it is recommended that 6-20 reps be performed on each set. While this is a large range, it offers a guideline in which to create smaller rep ranges from. It is best to choose smaller ranges such as 6-10, 8-12, 10-15, or 15-20.

As long as your program continually challenges the athlete to perform a greater amount of work, strength gains will be made. Any rep range will work. There are, however, some subtle differences between the benefits of each rep range.

Lower rep ranges (i.e. under 6 reps) will stimulate the nervous system to a greater extent, but actual tissue changes may be more limited. Very heavy weight (relative to the athlete’s strength) must be used, which can be potentially dangerous because athlete may have a tendency to use improper technique to lift the weight.

In general, it is unnecessary for any middle-school or high school athlete to use weights that cannot be lifted at least 6 times with good form. Prepubescent athletes should generally use weights that allow for at least 10 reps.  This allows more repetitions with good form to solidify proficiency at the exercise.

Medium rep ranges (i.e. 6-10, 8-12, 10-15) offer the benefits of increasing strength, eliciting positive tissue changes, and allow for greater safety than very heavy weights. These rep ranges are recommended for most sets with young athletes.

Higher rep ranges (i.e. 15-20) offer the greatest results when muscular endurance is the goal. Endurance athletes may want to consider higher rep ranges. Young athletes or beginners may also consider higher rep ranges because it offers the opportunity to practice good technique. Strength will still be gained with higher rep ranges.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #5: How much weight?

Strength Training Program for Young Athletes

Once a rep range is determined (for example 8-12 reps), selecting a weight is fairly easy. Have the athlete perform a set of as many reps as possible. If the athlete cannot perform at least 8 reps, the weight is too heavy and should be decreased at the next workout. If the athlete can perform more than 12 reps, the weight is too light and should be increased at the next workout.

Within 2-4 workouts, the optimal weight will be selected. This selection process gives the athletes the opportunity to practice technique and experiment with different resistances without having to go through maximal or sub-maximal testing.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #6: How often should you train?

Selecting the number of training sessions per week is dependent upon many outside factors such as practice time, game schedule, outside activities, facility availability, etc. Generally, there will be more time available for strength training during the off-season than during a competitive season.

The following are some guidelines for the number of training days per week during different phases of the competitive cycle, with routine ideas in parenthesis:

  • Off-season: 2-4 days/week (2 or 3 total-body workouts per week T & Th, 2 upper & 2 lower body workouts/week M-T-Th-F or 3 days/week alternating upper & lower body routines M-W-F)
  • Pre-season: 2-3 days/week (2 or 3 total-body workouts per week, or 3 days/week alternating upper & lower body routines M-W-F)
  • In-season: 1-3 days/week (1- 3 total-body workouts per week, or 2-3 days/week alternating upper & lower body routines)

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #7: How long should the workout take?

Each strength training session should last 20-60 minutes. There is no reason for any high school strength workout to last more than 60 minutes.

Rest between sets should last about 1-2 minutes. This allows time for a partner to complete his/her set and the next exercise to be set up.

Work large muscles first.

In general, the order of exercises should begin with the largest muscle groups and move to smaller muscle groups.

Large muscle groups include the chest, upper back, and hips & quads. Smaller muscle groups include the shoulders, arms, hamstrings, calves and abdominals. An example of the order of a total body routine would be:

  • Explosive/plyometric Exercise
  • Hips & Quads (squatting-type movement)
  • Chest (upper body push)
  • Upper back (upper body pull)
  • Shoulders
  • Hamstrings
  • Arms
  • Calves
  • Abdominals
  • Neck

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #8: Variation

A workout routine should be changed every 6-12 weeks to offer new stressors to the body. A change can be very small such as changing the rep range, changing the number of sets per exercise, adding a new exercise or two, or changing the order of exercises. Change can also consist of a completely new routine. Small changes are all the body needs to continually make progress so don’t feel that it is necessary to create brand new programs.

The process of changing the workout routine is called periodization. This can get very complicated, and there are entire books written on the subject. To get started on a strength training program, it is not necessary to understand the intricacies of periodization. This workout is for beginner lifters, so for now, all that is important is to modify the workout every 6-12 weeks.  More advanced programming should be reserved for athletes with much more lifting experience.

Changing the routine too often does not allow the muscular tissue time to gradually adapt to the stress. If the routine is changed too quickly, it is difficult to determine whether or not the routine is working. Building strength requires a great deal of patience and persistence, so encourage athletes to be diligent.

Variety, however, can often keep athletes engaged, so it is encouraged to offer something slightly different every couple of weeks. All this means is that every 2-3 weeks, you change one or two things about the program for that day. You can increase or decrease the number of reps on an exercise, add additional sets of an exercise, add 1-2 new exercises, or give an unexpected day off.  Anything to make the workout a little different for the day in an effort to keep the athletes engaged.

Strength Training for Young Athletes Component #9: Off-season vs. Pre-season vs. In-season

Strength Training Program for Young Athletes

The time of the year is going to create more differences in your strength training program for young athletes design than just about anything else. While this can get very complicated, once again you are encouraged to keep it simple. The major differences between the programs you will design for each “season” are as follows:

  • Off-season: The off-season is the best time to make strength gains because fewer physical demands are placed on the body at this time. Overall training volume will generally be increased during the off-season. This means that more days per week may be used, more sets of each exercise and more energy overall will be spent on strength than any other time of the year. In general young athletes will train 2-4 days per week and use 15-20 total working sets per workout. Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning is generally de-emphasized during the off-season to allow more energy to be spent on gaining strength or the improvement of other deficiencies.  Developing speed is another common priority during the off-season.
  • Pre-season: Strength training will continue through the pre-season, but the overall volume will gradually decrease as more time and energy are spent on conditioning or fitness. In general, strength training will consist of 2-3 days per week and 12-15 total sets per workout. The intensity of each set may be increased as the volume of work is decreased.
  • In-season: It is absolutely imperative that strength training be continued through the competitive season. The total volume of work will be reduced, so the relative intensity can be increased. The workouts will be less frequent and shorter in duration. Athletes should strength train at least one day per week, and no more than three days. Workouts will take 20-40 minutes with a total of 10-14 working sets per workout.

The number of training days per week and volume of each workout will depend upon the competitive schedule and physical demands of the sport.

Decide what time of year it is, think about the facilities available, and consider which exercises you feel are most appropriate for you to teach and for your young athletes to perform.

Below is a partial list of exercises for each body-part.  By choosing exercises from each group, you will begin to create a comprehensive, well-rounded program.  Balance all sides of a joint by performing equal work on each side.  For example, if you two sets of upper body pushing, you should balance it with two sets of upper body pulling.  This is a basic guideline to follow when getting started with young athletes.

Quads & Hips: Pick 1-4 Exercises

  • Squat, Goblet Squat or Front Squat
  • Deadlift or Trap Bar Squat
  • Leg Press
  • Lunges DB
  • 3-D Lunges
  • Leg Extension
  • Glute Ham Raise
  • Airball Squat
  • Hip Thrust/Glute Bridge

Hamstrings: Pick 1-2 Exercises

  • Leg Curl
  • Airball Leg Curl
  • RDL/Hip-hinge
  • Glute-Ham Raise/Hyperextension
  • Kettlebell Swing

Calves: Pick 0-1 Exercise

  • Standing Calf Raise
  • Seated Calf Raise
  • 1-Leg Calf Raise

Upper Body Push: Pick 1-3 Exercises

  • Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Decline Bench Press
  • DB Bench Press, Incline DB Bench Press, Decline DB Bench Press
  • Machine Press
  • Dips
  • Push Ups

Upper Body Pull: Pick 1-3 Exercises

  • Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups
  • Pulldown
  • DB Row
  • Cable/Machine Row
  • Close Grip Pulldown
  • DB Pullover
  • Inverted Row
  • Shrugs

Shoulders: Pick 1-3 Exercises

  • Overhead Press, Seated/Standing with DBs or Barbell
  • Machine Military Press
  • DB Lateral Raise/Front Raise/Bent Over Raise
  • Band Pull-a-parts
  • Internal Rotation External Rotation

Biceps: Pick 0-1 Exercise

  • Barbell Curl
  • DB Curl
  • Hammer Curl

Triceps: Pick 0-1 Exercise

  • Dips
  • Close Grip Press
  • Skullcrushers
  • Pushdowns
  • DB Overhead Extensions

Forearms/Hands: Pick 0-2 Exercises

  • Wrist Curl
  • Wrist Extension
  • Reverse Curl
  • Wrist Roller
  • Farmers Walk
  • Towel Chins
  • Plate Pinch

Abdominals/Low Back: Pick 1-3 Exercises

  • Sit-Ups
  • Hanging Leg Raise
  • Russian Twists
  • Plank Variations
  • Side Planks
  • Back Extension
  • Superman
  • Ab Rockers

Neck: Pick 1-3 Exercises

  • Machine or Manual Resistance Neck Flexion, Extension or Lateral Flexion
  • Shrugs

And There You Have The Building Blocks of a Strength Training Program For Young Athletes.

Let me know what you think!


Want to help make sure your athletes are prepared to perform for the long-run and not just for next week’s big game?

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About the AuthorJim Kielbaso

Jim Kielbaso is currently the director of the Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, Michigan where he still trains athletes every day.  He went to Michigan State University for a BS in Exercise Science and became a traitor when he went to the University of Michigan for his M.S. in Kinesiology.  Jim got his NSCA-CSCS back in 1995, and did the NASM Certified Personal Fitness Trainer certification back in 1993 when you actually had to go to Chicago and do the whole thing live, in-person. Jim was the Strength & Conditioning Coach at the University of Detroit Mercy from 1996-2002 and earned the distinction of NSCA Strength & Conditioning Professional of the Year for the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) in 1998. Jim was also an adjunct faculty member at UDM, teaching several courses in the Department of Sports Medicine. He also served as the State Director for the National Strength & Conditioning Association for six years, and Regional Coordinator for four years. He has written several books and contributes regularly to the IYCA.