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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!
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:
- Active legs (straight as an arrow)
- Glutes (squeeze a quarter between the cheeks)
- Trunk (brace like someone is going to punch your gut)
- 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, 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.
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.
- Create rigidity through the body (body is one long piece of solid oak)
- Torque the ground through the hands (rotate the hands away from one another)
- Pull the body to the floor (rip the ground apart to give the chest space)
- 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,
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
Push Ups Help Develop Powerful Athletes:
Learn more power evolution techniques today.
Foot Strike: The most obvious but most overlooked component of training young athletes.
About eight years ago, one of my high school high jumpers, Danielle, came running down to me at a track meet to tell me the news. As the coach of the long, triple and high jumps I was making the rounds at a meet trying to miss as few competitive attempts as possible, in a facility that spread the jump areas out. Needless to say, I missed her high jumps attempts. She was about to fill me in.
Between spurts of laughter, Danielle, whose athleticism is best described as “she is a really nice girl”, managed to tell me that during her approach she fell, crashed into the standard, caused a ruckus but rather enjoyed the experience. She then bounded off. Momentarily, I was relieved to have missed it. Days later I scrounged up the video to see what I expected. Poor foot placement in the latter steps of the approach and some other factors caused the wipeout.
Her problem was caused by the same part of athleticism that also led to many of the great performances that day: the” foot strike.” “Foot strike,” refers to the foot contacting the ground while running. That instant is vital to the success or failure of nearly every sporting endeavor, yet it is rarely emphasized, coached, taught or even discussed. It definitely should be. Since then, the other co-head coach of the track team and I have focused many hours upon this very topic. Here are some things to think about:
Youth Agility Obstacle Course Video
Imagination, creativity AND biomotor improvements in speed and agility.
Have a look at this…
Sport specialization the brief, but telling conclusion…
The study’s findings are relatively convincing. The elite group tended to devote far less time at earlier ages in sport-specific training.
Additionally, early Sport Specialization was found to be a likely predictor of classification as a near-elite athlete.
In other words, while the early sport specialization may have been beneficial to overall performance, the athletes who tended to excel the most had instead focused on multilateral athletic development early in their growth and avoided the high technical skill, intensity, and specificity of unique sport preparation until such foundational skills were well established.
Youth Fitness Tools
What do you REALLY need to train young athletes properly?
What if I gave you an exact template to spend no more than $50, but with that small investment, could stock your entire Youth Fitness & Sport Training business with exactly what you needed to both:
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And, be fully equipped to ‘do it right’?
Think I’m crazy?
Then watch this short video:
As a given sport evolves and the participants within that sport begin to break records and perform what was once considered impossible, you can be sure that advancements in training and conditioning regimes have occurred within that sport. Very few athletes ever become great sport technicians without the inclusion of a comprehensive athletic development and conditioning program as part of their training package. Over the past decade, the type of training and conditioning performed by young, developing and elite athletes has gone from basic fitness to more functionally- based and developmental activities. Figure skating and all of the disciplines under that umbrella are such examples.
For example, many training coaches prescribe that their skaters practice landing jumps and performing balance based skills (such as spirals) off the ice. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the ‘athletic developers’ who tend not to concern themselves with producing specified strength gains but instead work more directly at improving the complete athletic profile of the skater. The general conception among these professionals is that the greater degree of athleticism the skater has, the more likely he or she will be able to carry out athletic skills. While traditionalists often incorporate basic and conventional exercises into their training programs, the athletic developers come from a more movement based perspective. This style of conditioning is often referred to as ‘functional’ training, which is in fact a misnomer. Let’s examine that.
Training young athletes… It seems that everybody dabbles in this market
Whether the fitness or sport training professional is a Physical Therapist by trade, Personal Trainer to the average adult clientele or Strength Coach to elite sporting stars, when stating their bios and areas or expertise, it seems that the sentence always ends with ‘I am Training Young Athletes, too‘.
And why not, right?
Training young athletes is the fastest growing niche within the entire fitness industry.
It’s worth over $4 billion a year in the United States alone and more than 1 million children, youths and teens hired a Personal Trainer in 2007 – a large number for the purpose of enhancing sport performance.
But that term, ‘enhancing sport performance’ is something that doesn’t really belong in the vernacular of the youth sports training world. At least not in the way we currently use it.
At the risk of sounding acrimonious, let me ask you this question.
How much do you really know about human growth, development and the necessary components of training clients in the pediatric and formative years?
Exactly as I predicted, the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” certification has been absolutely flying off the shelves since I released it yesterday.
There is an unbelievable buzz at IYCA Head Office that, quite frankly, I haven’t seen in a very long time – the whole Fitness and Sport Training industry is lighting up over this new certification!
(See what all the buzz is about by clicking here —> http://iyca.org/highschool/)
And why wouldn’t they be?
You receive a certification and gain credentials to work with the fastest growing and most ‘in need’ demographic in the entire sports training industry.
You learn the inside secret systems for training high school athletes by some of the most successful Coaches on the planet (Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Wil Fleming).
Until Saturday January 29, you can own the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” certification for a full $100 discount.
But perhaps the most important reason…
The lynchpin that is making it so practically every single Coach and Trainer worldwide wants to become a certified “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach”?
Because it’s a Risk Free (more…)
How To Develop Speed Training for Athletes
There are a few key things that must be in every program that is designed to help athletes get faster. As you are putting together a program that is focused on speed training for athletes consider if your program includes the following:
1. Tissue Quality
4. Movement Preparation
As you are developing your program for speed training for athletes it should have each of those components and the sessions should follow that progression.
Most of our progressions and programs when speed training for athletes are similar in nature, but today we wanted to share a quick video from IYCA Expert Dave Gleason on speed training for athletes that play soccer.
Learn How Our IYCA Experts Develop Speed Training Programs By Getting YSAS Certified! Click The Image Below To Get Started Today.
Here’s where I left off with ‘Part 2’ of the Dave Gleason chronicle:
"More on the training and business side in a bit, though, for now, I want to explain what Athletic Revolution has done for me, my life and my career…"
Now, here’s where we pick it up for ‘Part 3’:
I Have the Opportunity to Effect a Generation and Build Wealth and Financial Stability in the Process
The Fitness & Sport Training industry is very young.
And not unlike any other industry’s growing pains, the evidence of our ‘youth’ can be seen everywhere.
We spend hours creating, designing and implementing training programs for our clients and have next to no time left for business systems generation or management.
We cram in things like marketing, press releasing, advertising and networking whenever we have a free moment (assuming we know how to do any of those things properly at all).
If we get sick or (gasp) want to take a day or week off… We don’t get paid. And man, can that hurt.
We remain at the mercy of our clients who can freely opt to be without our services at any time and entirely alter our monthly revenues and lifestyle budget with one ‘cancel’ phone call.
We wake up early, work all hours and cater to the whims of whenever our services are wanted for fear of leaving any scrap of money on the table.
We exist in the double-edged-sword world of wishing to grow and expanding our profits, but knowing if we do, we risk spreading ourselves even more thinly.
It’s a precarious balancing act that sounds alluring at first (the prospects of making $75 an hour), but reality can set in awfully quick…
Athletic Revolution is absolutely exploding nationwide.
A 100% done-for-you Youth Fitness & Sport Training facility or program that is just waiting for you…
… Waiting for you to join the AR Family and share in the joy of owning a business of your own that has proven effective, successful and fulfilling.
Every week, I adore the time I spend chatting with new and soon-to-be-new franchisees – their excitement, passion and care is positively contagious!
As a means of making the decision to become an AR Family Member and business owner even easier for you, Pat Rigsby and I have decided to put together an incredibly special offer (that expires December 31 of this year… That’s only 25 days or so from right now).
9.) Financial Justification – Most athlete programs are funded by parents or the school system or a possible sponsor. Parents can rationalize spending the dollars on a Youth Fitness Business and on their children more than themselves when it comes to physical fitness. Why? Parents view their children as “still having a chance” to achieve a dream or great feat. This brings us back to the adult client. Why doesn’t an adult view this the same way? Adults cannot justify spending the money on personal training or fitness because they face other expenses where they need to funnel their hard-earned money to. When it comes to personal health, adults try to rationalize with themselves by procrastinating, or trying to get healthier on their own. When they fail, they finally seek out a personal trainer. Certain adults are skeptical of this expense simply because they lack the confidence, commitment, and motivation needed to succeed.
Yup, parents will pay for their kids while sacrificing for themselves. True. But the fitness industry generates more than $100 billion every year in the United States alone – people ARE paying for service and product.
The youth fitness business /sport training market generates $4 billion annually in the United States (according to the Wall Street Journal). The adult ‘fat loss’ demographic generates 4x that amount. (more…)
I start this 60-minute audio interview with the business genius Pat Rigsby by saying:
“You’re not going to get this information out of any books and you won’t hear this any other place”
This is one of the key elements to how Pat and myself have both built successful Youth Fitness business and Sport Training businesses.
LISTEN BELOW, RIGHT NOW:
The Youth Fitness and Sport Training market has officially exploded.
Trainers, Coaches, Facilities and Health Clubs worldwide have all jumped at this new opportunity to provide quality service to the demographic most in need.
And the market has responded.
More than 1 million kids and teenagers hired a Personal Trainer last year in the United States alone and as much as $4 billion are spent every year in this country on training and coaching for kids.
But as with any new marketplace, the professionals who can claim ‘Specialist’ status will eventually become the go-to-experts for consumers at large.
Youth Conditioning Market: the perfect storm
Fitness Professionals with acumen for business will clearly recognize that the youth conditioning market represents a literal perfect storm in terms of revenue potential and stability. There are relatively few professionals who specialize in this niche and yet the consumer demand is growing by the day. In fact, unlike adult-centric demographics, the youth conditioning market contains sub-niches – all of which may satiate a respective Trainers desire to work with certain individuals and not others.
The most common opportunities found in the youth conditioning market are as follows –
1. Youth Conditioning Sporting Organizations
Countless youth conditioning athletic organizations from a range of sports, hire Fitness Professionals specially trained in the art and science of pediatric sport development, to conduct camps and clinics for both the young athletes themselves as well as the volunteer Coaches involved with the association. The network created being involved in such an endeavor can greatly enhance a Personal Trainers ability to bring private youth clients on in a private setting.
Summer is the ‘make or break’ time of year.
Without a strong summer of youth fitness or sport training camps working effectively on all levels, you can literally kiss your business progress goodbye.
June, July and August represent your greatest potential to have a revenue spike.
They are the months that will see the most number of new young clients walk through your door (at least hopefully).
They are when the seeds will be sown for your business success the remaining nine months of the year.
And yet every single year at this time, mistakes are being made.
I guarantee that you are making mistakes yourself.
Here are the ‘Top 5’ things you need to be concerned about: