Archive for “Bodyweight” 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:

Kettlebell Training: It’s All About Progressions

 

Kettlebell Training With Young Athletes

 

Kettlebell training progressions with young athletes

 

By Pamela MacElree MS

 

Just like every other training modality, kettlebells also have training and movement progressions.

 

I find it ironic that we often see people approaching kettlebell training far differently than they would barbell training or even the use of a dumbbell. Everything has a progression, always. I’ve talked about it before, you wouldn’t give someone additional weight in a squat if their bodyweight squat has poor form and you especially wouldn’t give them a weight to use in squats if they never squatted before.

 

If this is the case why would we automatically hand someone a kettlebell and show them how to do snatches if they had never done one before, if they had never used one before, or if they had never done any other similar movements before. We don’t.

 

This is where progressions come in to play when training young athletes. Progressions are highly important to understand and know to ensure that our clients and athletes both have good form and once they have maintained good form, can safely make increases in weight.

 

Since I mentioned kettlebell snatches earlier, let’s use them as the example. Keep in mind that I am not teaching how to do a kettlebell snatch, I am showing you the progression on where to start when first teaching the snatch.

 

Let’s take a look at things in reverse order:

 

    • Prior to doing kettlebell snatches we should ensure that being able to do a one arm kettlebell high pull is a proficient movement pattern.

 

    • Prior to doing one arm kettlebell high pulls, we want to teach and learn two arm kettlebell high pulls.

 

    • Prior to doing two arm kettlebell high pulls, we will teach the kettlebell Romanian deadlift. 
    • Prior to learning the kettlebell Romanian deadlift we teach the good morning stretch.

 

As you can see there are several steps that need to happen before teaching young athletes a kettlebell snatch. The purpose here is to not actually teach you the kettlebell snatch but to show you the movement patterns that need to be learned and perfected prior to attempting the snatch.

 

The good morning stretch shows us that our athletes understand the hip hinging process of moving the hips back in space, rather than down toward the floor as in a squat.

 

The Romanian deadlift follows the same hip hinging pattern as the good morning stretch with external load, slow and controlled. When learning the Romanian deadlift you start with two hands on the kettlebell and move to one.

 

After mastering the slow and controlled movements, we will move into the more dynamic explosive exercises of the two arm and one arm high pulls and finally progressing to the snatch.

 

Here’s a video to help you coach young athletes bring all of these kettlebell movements together :

 

 

 

Using Weighted Sleds for Acceleration Work

 

Using Weighted Sleds With Young Athletes

 

young athlete acceleration training

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

There are plenty of toys out there designed for speed development, but one of the most effective and easiest to use is a weighted sled. The research on resisted sprinting using these sleds is way behind the actual use of the device, but that’s usually how it goes. More recent information has shown that proper use of these sleds can have a positive effect on a young athletes ability to accelerate – one of the most important aspects of speed in many sports.

 

Most of the early research on resisted sprinting was focused on kinematics. They wanted to see if using a sled would change sprinting mechanics significantly enough to cause problems. Through experimentation of different loads, it turns out that using a relatively low weight (8-20% of bodyweight) will not have a significantly negative impact on mechanics.

 

The old research also focused on maximal velocity running instead of acceleration. The conclusions drawn from this research showed that resisted sprinting at maximal velocity (top speed) did not have a positive training effect and could actually have a slightly detrimental effect. Most of this was seen because the resistance caused longer ground contact times at top speed. The studies showed that maximal velocity training with no resistance may be better than using resistance.

 

A more recent study by Harrison and Bourke out of Limerick, Ireland showed that training with the weighted sled significantly improved scores on the time to 5 meters test. The study had subjects perform two resisted sprinting sessions per week for six weeks, using 13% of their bodyweight as the load. This load was based on an earlier study by Lockie et al that recommended using 12.6-13% of bodyweight. All subjects had experience with resisted sprinting and all were competitive rugby players. They weren’t using untrained individuals, making this much more useful information for sports performance coaches.

 

After warming up, subjects performed six 20-meter sprints with 4 minutes of rest between bouts. They did this twice a week for 6 weeks and had significantly positive results on their ability to accelerate.

 

This study, along with the experience of many coaches, provides evidence that use of a weighted sled may be beneficial for improving an athlete’s ability to accelerate. Of course, one of the keys to this kind of training is adequate coaching in the mechanics involved in accelerating. When training young athletes we often see them trying to accelerate without a proper forward lean or taking small, lower-power steps. The sled can be a helpful tool in the learning/coaching process because it can help an athlete get into a steeper forward lean without falling. It can also help an athlete alter his/her turnover slightly in favor of producing as much power as possible on the first 2-8 steps of a sprint.

 

An extremely important aspect of acceleration training with young athletes is the use of proper mechanics. Without quality instruction and the plenty of reps with optimal mechanics, the use of weighted sleds or any other type of acceleration training will be marginalized. A qualified youth coach who can analyze the young athletes movements and utilize individualized cues and feedback to improve mechanics is absolutely essential to this process. Lower-quality instruction will yield lower-quality results no matter what kind of apparatus, toy or method is used.

 

Knee drive is another important aspect of acceleration, and information from another study by Alcaraz et al suggests that a weighted sled may help athletes exaggerate knee drive. This could be a result of having to pull extra weight or the additional forward lean they observed. Either way, it’s a good thing and can benefit athletes who want to increase their acceleration performance.

 

Based on the scientific evidence and years of coaching experience, use of a weighted sled for improving acceleration performance is recommended as long as adequate coaching is available so mechanics are optimized during the process. I recommend focusing your efforts on the first 5-10 yards of a sprint since this is where the most benefit is seen.

 

We’re still kind of guessing in regards to the optimal load used, but you certainly want to keep it fairly low for most people. The research does not take into account the abilities of each of the young athletes, so a more powerful athlete may be able to use higher loads than 13% of bodyweight and still reap the benefits. Since the research suggests that resisted sprinting somehow strengthens the musculature at high velocities, using the heaviest weight possible without a negative effect on mechanics or joint rotational velocities seems to be the goal.

 

I also highly encourage the use of contrast training when using a sled. First, do a few reps without a sled, then perform 5-10 reps with the sled. Be sure to always perform 2-4 more reps without the sled to give the athlete the opportunity to “feel” the difference and allow the nervous system to adapt. This could simply be a trick, but it has been suggested that this kind of contrast training can actually get the nervous system to “up-regulate” with consistent training over time. When using resistance, the body is forced to fire harder on each step. Over time, using contrast training, the athlete’s nervous system may learn to fire harder all the time, not just directly after use of the weighted sled. This is still a theory, but the recent research suggests it may be exactly what is occurring.

 

Other professionals, including well-respected trainer Mike Boyle, use weighted sleds with much higher loads as more of a movement-specific strength training exercise. You can load the sled up and have athletes “march” forward, driving the knees upward, pushing backward as hard as possible and getting into a steep forward-lean position. There is no real scientific evidence that this works, but the principle of specificity would suggest that this could be a good way to add strength when the goal is to improve acceleration speed.

 

There seems to be enough evidence that a weighted sled works to warrant its use when training for improvements in acceleration speed.
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Because there is limited research available, we’re still searching for the optimal training volume and loads for young athletes, but some guidelines are being created through the literature and experience.

 

·2-3 days/week

 

·8-20% bodyweight as the load

 

·4-10 short-distance sprints (5-20 yards) per workout

 

·Relatively long rest periods between bouts (1 – 4 minutes)

 

·Utilize contrast training

 

·Possibly use the sled as a strength training exercise

 

Try using a weighted sled with your young athletes, and be sure to focus on mechanics.

 

While it is just one tool in a trainer’s toolbox, it does seem to have merit. As long as the athlete is giving high effort, using appropriate loads and practicing proper mechanics, you should enjoy the results of faster acceleration after a period of training.

 

Jim Kielbaso acceleration Training program for young athletes

 

Jim Kielbaso

 

Young Athletes Training Facts

 

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Young Athletes long term development insights

In lieu of an article or interview, I thought that I would hit you guys with some great information and solid insight into the training & development of Young Athletes

 

>> From a study published in the Swimming Science Bulletin. Authored by Brent S. Rushall & John Marsden.

 

"The question of whether (young athletes) should specialize in particular sports at an early age has been asked for many years. The evidence now seems to support programming activities that develop overall capacities rather than specialized functions while the young athlete is growing."

 

This is a fact that I have been preaching for many years. Contrary to popular belief, the BEST and MOST EFFICIENT means of developing a future champion is through slow progression and multilateral means.

 

 

>> From a study published in the Swimming Science Bulletin. Authored by Brent S. Rushall & John Marsden.

 

"If resistance training is to be done with children and young adolescents, exercises should involve sub-maximal loads, such as one’s own bodyweight, light dumbbells, weighted bags and/or medicine balls. Sophisticated and restrictive weight exercises, particularly on machines, are not ideal for children".

 

Did anyone read my article a few newsletters back on "Keeping Kids Off Weight Training Machines"? Trainers or coaches who advocate machine-based training for young athletes are simply not thinking straight.

 

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