Archive for “Range Of Motion” Tag

Tempo Training for Young Athletes

Young Athletes and Tempo Training

As a coach, I believe that the chronological age of an athlete means much less than their developmental age. For example, we have three boys that joined our program this summer. They are headed into the 7th grade and are all 12 years old.

However, they each spend a great deal of their time playing for club soccer teams, AAU basketball teams, and other top-tier programs in respective sports like golf, tennis and hockey.

Obviously, they are exceptional athletes who are used to being treated like high school or even collegiate athletes. And once we took them through our performance evaluation, their attitude and ability to understand objectives matched that of some of our 16 or even 17-year olds.

So clearly they fit better into our High School Performance training model than our Development model (built for 10-13 year olds). However, their performance on the FMS (functional movement screening) would have a coach wondering how they haven’t been seriously injured playing their sports.

Most athletes at this age and ability level have had the exact same childhood these boys had: two or three sports a season since they were 5 (or younger) and non-stop skill work in these sports. What they never experienced or were taught is a movement foundation. They never developed the skills of squatting, hip hinging, pulling or pushing, let alone more advanced skills like stopping, starting, landing, jumping or cutting.

How can a high performing athlete be built on a non-existent foundation? The answer: They CAN’T!!! They will either break down (get injured) or hit a ceiling and never perform at the level they are capable.

Conclusion #1: We need movement quality because that will lead to strength and a solid foundation for performance gains.

However, that isn’t the only consideration our 12 year-old elite level athletes need. Most sport coaches never take the time to develop an understanding of the conditioning needs for their particular sport. And rarely will you find a coach who recognizes the need for a massive aerobic system. They instead see conditioning as a way to “weed out the weak.”

However, with a large aerobic base, an athlete can spend the majority of their contest using oxygen. When the anaerobic systems are needed, the aerobic base provides increased energy production so there is greater anaerobic endurance. Better anaerobic endurance=MORE POWER (little Tim the Tool Man Taylor there!)

To top it all off, the aerobic system has the greatest training potential. We can make athletes extremely well-conditioned by working solely on their aerobic systems, particularly with kids who are young, like our 12 years olds.

Tempo training teaches youth about their own range of motion, giving them the mental and physical foundation they'll use for the rest of their lives.

Conclusion #2: We need to incorporate aerobic system training into our athlete’s programs so they have a strong aerobic base and can push the limits of their anaerobic systems as their training age increases. 

So, can we accomplish both with one simple method of training? Since the title of this article is “Tempo Training for Young Athletes,” the answer is YES via tempo training. Tempo training focuses on the biggest bang for our buck exercises like RDLs, deadlifts, squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups and rows and sets them to a cadence.

We use three numbers in our cadence (although some coaches use four). If a sequence looked like this for a squat: 211, the exercise would consist of two counts on the “down” (eccentric), one count at the “bottom” (isometric), and one count on the way back up (concentric).

Each exercise differs depending on when the eccentric, isometric, and concentric portions occur, but we always sequence our numbers the same: eccentric/isometric/concentric. There are many ways to effectively use tempo training including: movement quality, time under tension, full range of motion explosiveness and sport specific power.

Movement Quality

Typically, we use tempo training in our young athlete’s first and possibly even their second program. By slowing the movement down, they get a chance to feel the pattern, ingrain it, and correct any minor issues while performing the exercise. This sets up great movement quality and big increases in core/hip control. Usually it only takes a few sessions of training like this to get a young athlete moving really well.

Time Under Tension (TUT)

Another facet of tempo training that we, as strength coaches, like is that our athletes can spend a lot of time under tension. When they come back after a hard tempo session, we ask them, “Where are you sore?” When they answer, “My butt and my hamstrings,” it is an immediate teaching opportunity.

They learn that an RDL or squat done correctly really taxes those muscles and if they gain strength in those areas, they can build a mid-section like a Mack truck! (Mike Robertson taught me the Mack truck line, which I use all the time)

Explosiveness through Full Range of Motion 

Most of our athletes walk in with explosiveness but only through shortened ranges of motion. That’s where the isometric part of tempo training plays an important role. When we get an athlete to statically hold a contraction for a second or two, their brain starts to understand that it is okay to put the muscle on a stretch.

Moreover, when properly stretched, that muscle fires back much faster than before. As a result, the brain (and thus, our athlete) allows greater range of motion (ROM) and the athlete may then become more explosive through that improved ROM.

Explosiveness is usually very high on the list of things athletes want to improve at any age, but particularly with young athletes involved in multiple sports. They never have an opportunity to get strong nor do they learn what it actually means to produce greater power.

Sport-Specific Power

When we program tempo-based training for power, we use an “X” in place of the last number in the sequence. For example, we had a number of younger athletes just transition into their fall sports. In their last training cycle, they were doing front squats and RDLs with a tempo of 21X, meaning they go down for two counts, pause for one count, and move as explosively as they can to the top.

After they internalize that explosiveness, we ask them to re-create the power using med balls or plyometric exercises. As they apply their newfound power, they feel and see their potential rise. When we get an athlete through our program and to their season using tempo training, we know they have gained weight room strength and translated that to power production in their respective sport.

Tempo training gives youth athletes the foundation to build on with skill training.

Now that we understand what can be done with tempo training, we need to discuss the programming guidelines associated including: where we optimally insert tempo work during their training year, how do we elicit different training effects with tempo work and how does training age affect our use of tempo work.

When To Do Tempo Training

I don’t think there is a wrong time to do tempo training, however there are given times in a training year where I think it is absolutely imperative. The most crucial time of year is post-season.

Whether an athlete comes back the day the season ends or takes two months off before returning, they are typically rusty due to the lack of focus on strength training late into a sport season. This is the perfect time to re-groove movement quality and set them up for huge gains in the off-season.

The second most crucial time to incorporate tempo training are those last phases of strength training leading into a sport season. We want to start adding some serious velocity and acceleration to the movements and can do so with properly programmed tempo work here.

Conditioning with Tempo Training

This is one of the cooler uses of tempo training that I have found. Instead of just using it to set up strength or power gains, we can use the same movements, change the cadence, and elicit some serious gains in aerobic conditioning, (particularly oxygenutilization).

We designate an exercise (such as RDLs or squats) with equal parts eccentric/concentric movement (i.e. “202” or “303”) for a designated period of time or reps. When our athletes perform this as their conditioning for 4-8 weeks, they will see marked improvement in their ability to maintain an aerobic state during high-intensity training.

Tempo training also increases slow twitch fiber density, which houses the big factories for lactate oxidation, allowing the anaerobic system to work longer before anaerobic threshold is reached.

Training Age and Tempo Training

I believe that tempo work can have the largest impact in situations where an athlete comes in at an extremely young training age. This does NOT mean their actual age but instead the amount of time they have been exposed to a quality strength program.

With the huge increase in sports being played year round and the best athletes coming to us with a training age of 0, tempo training can quickly advance the most novice strength athlete.

At the beginning of this summer, the three boys described previously definitely lacked training years. Each of them had multiple years of sport-based training under their belt, but a combined training age of maybe 1.5 years. We had them on a steady diet of goblet squats, RDLs, rows, and even push-ups for their first few programs with tempo assigned to help them gain movement quality.

Now they have graduated to the exercises they saw the high school boys doing at the beginning of the summer. They have developed into athletes I am proud to call F.I.T. Strong and have limitless potential to grow. Each boy moves through the weight room with the grace and strength expected of an elite-level athlete.

And it is all thanks to some simple tempo training. Look out for these boys in the coming years!

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


Selecting the Right Starting Position for Olympic Lifts (Part 1)


Athletes Options For Olympic Lifts


By Wil Fleming


Coaches everywhere, and a great percentage of coaches at that, choose to use some type of Olympic lift in their training of athletes. Typically this Olympic lift is a power clean, starting from the floor. While this is appropriate for plenty of athletes, there are multiple variations in the starting position, that it can be hard to determine which is the right place to start.


So lets take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the variations in start position.


Floor Start Position


This is the typical start position and the one used in weightlifting competitions. This position is the one that as coaches we see high school athletes using most often in their high school training program.


In this position the athlete starts with the bar at rest on the floor, and the bar should be close (~1-2 inches) from the shins. Athletes starting in this position should slowly, and under control lift the from the floor, ultimately passing the knees.


Pros: This position is the position from which the most weight has ever been cleaned or snatched, has been lifted. This is due to the momentum gained from the correct pull off the floor. Using the floor start position requires the athlete to increase hip range of motion due to the low starting position.


Cons: This position requires great hip mobility, and therefore, if an athlete is lacking in hip mobility they will typically gain this lower start position through an increase in lumbar flexion. Lumbar flexion with loads in front of the spine have been attributed to greater shear forces on the spine and a corresponding higher incidence of back injury. The typical floor start position also requires athletes to move the bar by the knees. This area of movement is one that requires great technique and for many athletes means that their technical problems occur in this area. More lifts are missed due to the first pull moving around the knee than in any other area of the lift. Poor lifts will have an S pull where the bar will move forward to travel pass the knee.


Block Start Position


The block start position is used often in the technical training of competition weightlifters.


The actual start position can be adjusted in height to meet the goals of the training session, but typically the athlete will start from a static stance somewhere above the knee.


Pros: Block starts are a great teaching tool. Coaches can specify the exact starting position that the athlete must achieve. This position is usually close to the 2nd pull (the rapid acceleration of the bar), and requires very little thought from the athlete once the bar is in place. Cueing the pull from a block position is fairly easy for the coach, typically aggressiveness and explosiveness are the only thing needed. The block start position is great for starting strength, no momentum is used and the stretch shortening cycle is eliminated. Starting strength is great quality to develop for nearly any athlete.


Cons: Situating the athlete in the correct start position can be hard for the uninitiated coach, differing starting heights require differing positions that are sometimes very dissimilar. Blocks can also be expensive to purchase or difficult to assemble, and therefore many weight rooms or facilities do not allow for the possibility of coaching athletes from a block starting position.


There are even more possibilities for Olympic lift start positions stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about 2 of my favorite start positions for young athletes.



olymic lifts young athletes
Learn More the Olympic Lift Instructor Course Today!





Teaching Young Athletes the Kettlebell Snatch


Kettlebell Snatch For Young Athletes


by Jason C Brown (more…)

Coaching a Large Group of Young Athletes in a Small Space

Young Athletes Programming in a Small Space

young athletes
By Dave Gleason
At Athletic Revolution South Shore we have 2500 sq feet in total.

Our usable space is approximately 1600 sq feet with an open

turf area of only 1300 sq ft. We max out our session at 16-18

athletes per session. As the kids get older and can cover more

ground quicker – it is imperative to prepare our programming

with this in mind.


Here are a few strategies that have worked extremely well for us as we program for our young athletes 6-18 years old.

Staff – As skilled coaches we can certainly run large groups very

effectively. However, beyond merely executing a great session

we need to remind ourselves of the immense gravity of connecting

with our athletes. Once more it becomes increasingly more difficult

to observe all of your athletes to make recommendations, set

cues, regress or progress the movement. We have a minimum

of 2 staff on the floor at all times.
Cascading – We will have the athletes form 2-4 lines (especially

the Exploration because we try to avoid lines for our Discovery

classes) to perform the activity. When they reach the far end

of the turf they turn to the left and continue back to the start.

This can work very well for ambulating active range of motion

and general preparatory exercise.
Rows – For movements such as accelerations, skip loops and

bear crawls we form two rows, one behind the other. When

the first row reaches half way, the next row begins.
Circle up – Our Exploration classes are now accustomed to

engaging in MFR and active range of motion activities as our

classes begin. With a class of 16 kids they will form one large,

or small circles. Discovery athletes always enjoy circles…they

know it means something fun is coming!
Spread em’ out – Another very effective way to observe your
young athletes is to have them spread out so you can view each and

every one of them during the activity. We use spot markers

(agility discs) for our Discovery classes to add some continuity

to where they are. Be cognizant of the child trying to hide

behind another athlete or in the corner.

Split the room –
Lay out cones down the center of the turf area.

Half the athletes at one end of the turf and half at the other.

You can instruct them to stop at the center line, turn around at

the center line and return to the start, or even pass each in the

middle during some activity (great for spatial awareness and

kinesthetic differentiation).


As you create your programs, contemplate how the activities and

movements you have chosen fit into these mechanisms of

organizing your young athletes. It will provide the context for fantastic

classes and remarkable results!

Young Athletes: Flexibility versus Mobility



Young Athletes Priorities

by Mike Robertson


What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?

I’ve always used the Bill Hartman definitions; they go something like this:


Mobility – Range of motion under specific circumstances (specific)


Flexibility – Range of motion about a joint (non-specific)


So mobility is specific to a certain movement – i.e. you need a certain amount of hip mobility to squat, lunge, etc.


In contrast, flexibility is non-specific – i.e. you lay someone on their back and stretch their hamstrings.  This gives you an idea of their flexibility, but it’s not specific.  Just because they have great hamstring length doesn’t mean they’ll be able to perform functional movements properly or without compensation.



Favorite Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Tony Reynolds is a cut above almost every Strength Coach I know.


And that’s why he’s 100% in charge of the content for the message board
on www.IYCAMembers.com


When our Members have questions about training young athletes, their
is no one in the world I trust more than Tony to answer them.


But not only does Tony answer questions, he also contributes to the message
board every day with fantastic thoughts, opinions and suggestions.


Tony detailed some of his favorite strength training exercises to use with young
athletes last week and I just had to make sure that you saw this goldmine of
information. Below is a description of one of these exercises:


Single Leg Low Pulley RDL


Low pulley lowered as far down as it will go (ankle height) with a “D” handle attached.


Starting Position:
Grasp the D-handle in your right hand and face the pulley. Move far enough away from the pulley so you can perform a full range of motion without the plates touching the stack.


Stand on your left foot with your head up, base leg knee slightly bent (10-15 degrees), spine neutral but tilted, and hips pushed slightly back.


The Motion:
Flex at the base leg hip. As your torso moves forward and down “push” your free leg back for counter-balance. The free leg hip should not flex during the exercise.


You may need to slightly flex the base leg knee an additional few degrees as your hips travel back. This will allow you to keep your weight on the back half of your foot and reach forward maximally with the d-handle while keeping a neutral but tilted spine.


Descend until your back is near parallel with the ground. Reverse the motion and return to the top.


Things to Avoid:
Letting your hips push out to the side.
Dropping the base leg knee valgus
Over flexing the base leg knee…its an RDL not a squat
Losing a neutral spinal alignment
Loading the front half of the base foot
Hyperextending the hips/spine at termination of the ascent



Let me know some of your favorite strength training exercises for young athletes below



Injury Prevention and Youth Performance Training




Youth Performance Training,/h1>


So here’s where I chime in.


Want the truth from my perspective?


Blunt and to the point as usual….



Injury prevention and youth performance training is the same thing.



When working with young athletes in a well-designed developmental
process, the goal is simply skill acquisition and advancement.


Done correctly, injury prevention and performance gains take care of


Now, this is in stark contrast to much of the industry who pontificate
about specific "6-Week Injury Prevention Programs" or "8-Week Off-Season
Speed Training Programs"


A well-designed developmental system of training involves little more than
teaching skill, progressing the skill and then subsequently applying it
to specific patterns or sports when required.


Biomotor gains (i.e. speed, strength, flexibility increases) occur naturally
as a bi-product of such a system.


So to does injury prevention.


When technique and force application is taught correctly and in a progressive
manner, efficiency of movement, systemic strength and range of motion increases
happen naturally.


When young athletes move better, are stronger head to toe and have full, complete
ranges of motion through joints, they are naturally less likely to incur injury.


It really is just that simple.


But do you know how to construct a fully developmental and progressive
training system?


Do you understand fully what sorts of training stimulus are necessary at certain
ages in order to maximize athletic performance?


Maybe it’s time to look very seriously at my Complete Athlete Development


More than 10,000 young athletes worldwide, Coaches, Trainers and Parents
haven’t been wrong.


Click on the link below to see what I mean –





‘Till next time,






Flexibility Training for Young Athletes




Chris Blake gives answer some common questions about flexibility training for young athletes


What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?
Flexibility can have two definitions:

1.) The ability of muscle to lengthen during passive movements.

2.) Range of motion about a joint and surrounding musculature during passive movements.


Mobility can also have two ways of being defined. The main definition is the state of being in motion. But this state of motion can be looked at within certain joints (subtalar mobility) or as a physical whole (moving from one position into the next during a run).


Are both important to young athletes or is one more important than the other?
This is a great question. Both are important for the older athlete (ages 14-18+) as athletes within this age group tend to show more restrictions with both flexibility and mobility, often times once you take care of the flexibility then you improve mobility. But with the younger athlete (ages 13 and under) I wouldn’t place much importance on either one unless there has been a certain injury that limits each.


Are there different kinds of Flexibility, or is ‘bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy’ what all young athletes should be doing?
There are seven different ways of going about flexibility:



Fitness Training For Youth Flexibility vs. Mobility




Fitness Training For Youth

What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?


Well, sometimes this is a confusing issue, as these terms are often used interchangeably. Mobility (also known in some circles as active flexibility) is where we’re talking about CONTROL of the body through a larger range of motion. The muscle group says “I want to move, and I can.” The contrast is passive flexibility, where an outside force will be asking the question, “Can I stretch you?”, and the muscle says “Yeah, I guess so”. There is no skill here, and it is my belief that those who are hyperflexible (too flexible) without motor control are just as prone to injury as those who are Hypomobile / flexible (not mobile or flexible enough)



Are both important for Fitness Training For Youth or is one more important than the other?

I think that, all things being equal, mobility is a far more valuable goal to pursue for our young ones. However, if there is a physical limitation in a certain body area / muscle group, flexibility can certainly be addressed as part of an overall mobility program.



When should young athletes train Flexibility?


Again, flexibility should be the goal when there is a specific area that is tighter proportionally than the rest of the body. Although, the first question should be “Why?”, with regard to the cause of the tightness. Many times, we are just dealing with the natural growth process during a growth spurt, where bones outgrow muscle and connective tissue, and there is temporary tightness. We may need to train flexibility here through focused stretching, but always in the context of a well rounded mobility program.



When should they train Mobility?


Unless there is a debilitating injury. Always. Throughout development. Period.



Are there different kinds of Flexibility, or is ‘bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy’ what all young athletes should be doing?


Absolutely not. The young body should be able to MOVE, and the body should interact smoothly and naturally with the nervous system, not just accept and yield to forces passively.



What is the single greatest mistake or myth people make when it comes to Flexibility training for fitness training for youth?


The greatest mistake people make when it comes to flexibility is to force a passive stretch. When you force a passive stretch, there is circuitry in the spinal cord that will respond by tightening the muscles. Wait, weren’t we trying to RELIEVE the tightness in the muscles? I have seen utterly sadistic attempts by uninformed, performance / ego driven coaches where they would take a young athlete and stretch him or her to the point of tears, actually saying that they wouldn’t get flexible unless they fought through the pain. This doesn’t create athletic mobility, it injures, tears, and forever alters the tissue.



Want to learn more on Fitness Training For Youth?   www.IYCA.org/youth-fitness-certification