Effective Model for an 8-Week High School Summer Conditioning Program
It’s that time of year when most high schools are out of school and spring sports, club or otherwise, have finished.
For most of our high school athletes, this is the one time of year where they can focus most of their training time on getting stronger, faster, and more powerful. It gives us an opportunity to really make an impact and change how they function and perform during their next athletic year.
However, we are a private sector training facility, meaning we work around other coaches, their summer strength and conditioning (S&C) programs, and any other events an athlete might have during the summer.
So what needs to be taken into account for a high school summer conditioning program, and how do we design high-performance training plans for our summer athletes?
Consideration 1: How far out is the next season?
When developing a training plan for our athletes, one of the first questions we ask is, “When is your next athletic season?” This information gives us a timeline. We know what we want to accomplish with them, and once we know how long we have, we can condense our training plan to fit the timetable.
Consideration 2: How does their sport coach approach early season practices?
This is a common issue and one we address if we know the coach and their methodology. If we don’t yet know the coaching staff, we ask our players to describe early season training. Typically, there are one or multiple cuts for a team involving extremely taxing practices.
For those who don’t need to cut, they still take athletes through “weed-out” early season conditioning. In the S&C community, we would call this lactic or alactic threshold training. If you have ever seen this kind of conditioning or experienced it yourself, it will quickly make you hate your coach (maybe dislike; hate is such a strong term :)).
We as S&C coaches need to prepare our athletes to handle the grind with effectiveness and ease to stand out among their peers. We promise our athletes and their parents that they will be in mid-season condition at the start of a season. If we don’t take into account the sport coach’s style of conditioning, we will never make good on our promise.
Consideration 3: Other summer training programs
Our gym is located nearby to a number of large schools, most of which have a well-equipped weight room. Thus, these schools have summer strength programs, usually facilitated by the football coaches, where regular attendance is mandatory.
No matter how productive our training has proven to be, a football coach will never concede that our S&C program holds priority over their program.
So, if an athlete’s coach requires that they attend the summer strength program, we must work to supplement our training philosophy and high school summer conditioning program around the school’s.
Condition 4: Summer Vacations/Camps/etc.
Summer is one of the few times when families can get away for a vacation. Also, the majority of athletic development camps occur over the summer months.
As a S&C coach, you must have these dates laid out in advance to better plan your training around them. We will overreach with our athletes prior to a vacation, where they will get needed recovery time. We will also build basic conditioning programs for athletes if they will be somewhere with access to training equipment.
Writing the High School Summer Conditioning Program
Once we have taken into account all external factors related to training our athletes, we have to write them a program!
Below is an 8-week, twice-weekly high school summer conditioning program. This is the most common frequency and timeframe we get from our high school athletes during the summer, and it gives us the best results with 16 sessions.
This is something we use frequently with young training age athletes. Our multi-joint movements like squatting, hip hinging, split squatting, pushing, and pulling can be done in this manner. We often use 202 and 301 tempos (ecc/iso/con) for these movements, generally trying to slow the deceleration portion of the movement.
Our training sessions are 75 minutes. When we have 6-8 exercises to go through plus a warm up and conditioning, supersets are the only way to go. This also keeps the athlete moving and under slight fatigue during all max/sub-max strength movements. This type of conditioning is consistent with our athlete’s experiences in their sports.
Aerobic Capacity Training
Our goal here is to make sure the athlete’s aerobic capacity is back to where it should be and make sure their aerobic base is solid so we can build performance on top without a breakdown. We use cardiac output methods most often but any quality aerobic training works well. Reference Joel Jamieson’s Ultimate MMA Conditioning book or his website 8weeksout.com for aerobic conditioning ideas.
The alactic system has been shown to have minimal potential for improvement compared to the aerobic system. However, our objective with training the alactic system is getting our athletes to learn and obtain maximum effort levels repeatedly. Often young athletes don’t know what max effort really is and they consistently leave performance potential on the table. Alactic conditioning coaxes that out of them.
During weeks 5-8, our objective changes. We work to turn strength that our athlete gained to usable power. Depending on the athlete’s training age, we will use tools like med balls, kettlebells, sandbags or Olympic lift variations to expose their power potential.
Strength/Speed and Speed/Strength Characteristics
Our athletes mostly train at our gym to get better in their court or field sports. Thus, we aren’t training weight room athletes (i.e., power lifters or bodybuilders). So we take strength exercises in the first month and turn them into strength/speed and speed/strength exercises in the second.
There is a lot of varied research as to the percentages needed to elicit these characteristics from squatting, deadlifting or bench pressing. For our high school age athletes, percentages no higher than 80% (strength/speed) and 70% (speed/strength) of 1RM work great along with a 20X tempo (X meaning moving as explosively as possible during concentric contraction).
Aerobic Capacity Training
We want to constantly build the aerobic base for our athletes because it is the most trainable and has the greatest potential for improvement. If you can develop a large aerobic foundation, the necessity for the lactic and alactic systems decreases and an athlete can work harder for longer without reaching anaerobic threshold.
Lactic Training or Early-season oriented conditioning
Your athlete may mutter the, “I hate you but I know it’s good for me,” phrase during this portion of their conditioning. This is the time where we briefly push our athletes into an uncomfortable but tolerable lactic phase of training. The main reason we do so is that most coaches will condition this way early in the season and we want complete preparation for our athletes.
If we know the style of conditioning a coach presents his or her athletes, we will incorporate that here as well. I don’t believe in sport-specific training but I do believe there is a specificity of sport, which also applies to conditioning. If we make our athlete appear better to the coaches early, they will have a better chance to show off improved physical conditioning on their court/field throughout the season.
This summer training approach works very well for us. I imagine the duration and frequency of sessions I listed is a scenario that occurs throughout the country. However, we have different training tools and methods than you might. So take these concepts and apply it to your athletes with your tools. If you do so, you will have a high school summer conditioning program that rivals the best strength programs in your state!
ADAPT and Conquer,
About the Author: Jared Markiewicz
Jared 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.
- 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