9 Designing Youth Training Programs



Designing Youth Training Programs

Most Trainers and Coaches don’t have a clue.

That isn’t meant to sound horribly negative, just something I’ve noticed a lot recently.

I was reading a textbook recently that contained the following program for a high school football player:

a. Hang Cleans – 4 sets, 8 reps
b. Bench Press – 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
c. Incline Bench Press – 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps
d. Front Pull Down – 4 sets, 8 reps
e. Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4 sets, 8 reps
f. 1-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4 sets, 8 reps (each)

What do you think?

Is that a good program to you?

If you’re like me, it strikes you immediately as a horrible program.

But let me ask you to take a second and answer this one question:


If you agree it’s a poorly designed program, what makes it so bad in your eyes?

What I’m getting at here is the most important and critical aspects of being able to write quality programs of your own.


The ability to assess and analyze a program based on three critical factors:

1. Timing Requirements
2. Even Stimulus
3. Understanding Objectives

These three elements, and your ability to dissect them, is going to change your ability to write effective programs of your own.

Let’s take the program from above and dissect it from those three variables:

1. Timing Requirements

Here’s what we know.

The average 6 – 8 rep set takes roughly 45 seconds to perform.

Each exercise lists ‘4 sets’ as the objective.

There are six exercises in total.

Six exercises at four sets each, is a total of 24 sets for the session.

At 45 seconds per, that totals 18 minutes of working time.

Roughly 2 minutes of recovery time will take place in between each set, which amounts to 8 minutes of total recovery per exercise.

With six exercises in total, that amounts to 48 minutes in total.

Combined with the 18 minutes of total work load, this training session will take roughly 70 minutes to perform.

Here are my concerns:

a. 70 minutes is far too long for high school training programs

b. 70 minutes does not include any sort of warm-up or cool-down

c. The work/rest relationship is roughly 1:3 – unacceptable


2. Even Stimulus

One point here, but it’s a biggie –

12 sets = pushing

8 sets = pulling

You don’t need to know much about athletic development or functional anatomy to know that this ratio is entirely unacceptable.

3. Understanding Objectives

Do high school athletes really need to perform a horizontal pushing motion from two different angles?

Are bilateral movements from start to finish the best option when trying to create a functionally fit and injury resistant athlete?

Does the program outlined above seem way too much like a standard bodybuilding program?

The key to creating effective training programs is to start with objectives.

Yet ANOTHER reason I am not a fan of assessing biomotor abilities in young athletes.

If you are intent on testing there vertical jump, bench, squat and 40 time, than your programming is going to naturally focus on improving these elements – and be limited in other areas as a result.

What do your young athletes need in terms of:

– Injury Prevention
– Age Related Factors of Development
– On Field Performance
– Correction of Body/Structural Dysfunction

When you identify your athletes’ needs, you have a much broader and more complete understanding of the objectives necessary in creating an effective program.

The point of this email is to show you that training program dissection is critical in understanding how to create programs of your own.

Not everyone can write programs that work well – it is a skill that requires time, trial and error as well as practice.

But rather than starting with a blank canvas, use the 3 points I mentioned above to assess your own training programs –

1. Timing Requirements

2. Even Stimulus

3. Understanding Objectives


I hope this helps!

– Brian


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