Strength Introduction: Full Program

This is the third and final instalment in a three-part series covering the proper introduction of strength training for young athletes new to the weight room.

As we discussed in the first two articles, what separates a good introductory program from a bad one is twofold…

  • Good programs focus on proper movement and muscle firing patterns before they introduce weight.
  • Proper strength implementation is done in a systematic fashion that takes into account all three phases of strength development – Isometric, Eccentric, and Concentric.

We also covered the four movements a quality introductory strength program is built around.

Those four movements are – Hinge, Squat, Push, and Pull.

To this point we have laid the foundation for how a quality coach should approach designing a training program, however, we have not touched on the X’s and O’s.  In this final instalment, I will layout an 8-week training progression for each of the four primary movements and how they should be progressed to insure proper and save strength development in young athletes.  In addition, I will show you a glimpse into 4 training sessions throughout the 8 weeks so you can see the progressions and how an athlete is actually built through a comprehensive strength evolution.

For this I am going to show 4 sample training sessions.  One from week 1, week 4, week 6, and week 8.  This will show how a proper strength program should progress.

Now, when you view these look for three things…

1: These are introductory athletes so you will not see any complex movements as they do not have the structure required to perform these. However, each training session does have some form of jumping mechanics.  This teaches the athletes how to forcefully extend their hips and how to land properly.  This is the building block for complex strength movements and overall athletic development.

2: This is an ideal program.  As the saying goes “a good coach writes in pencil not pen.” As with every program, you lay out your plan and adapt based on what the athletes body is telling you.  Remember, you have to fit the program to the athlete not the athlete to the program.

3: Each movement is paired or done in a “super-set” fashion.  The movement that is listed second is an auxiliary movement with the emphasis being either corrective in nature or core strengthening.  The goal behind this is to build the structure and body control necessary to perform more complex movements later.

Week 1 – Strength Introduction

  • Active Dynamic Warm Up
  • Core Activation 
    • Dead Bugs, Plank Elbow Taps
  • Landing Mechanics 
    • Snap Downs, In Place Jump to Hard Deceleration
  • Strength 
    • Hinge: PVC RDL super-set w/ Plank Hold 
      • RDL 3X8 (3-1-3 tempo)
      • Plank 3X30 seconds (core activation)
  • Squat: Squat Iso Hold super-set w/ Rocking Frog Stretch 
    • Squat 3X30 second hold w/ Hands Behind Head
    • Rocking Frog 3X10 (corrective – hip mobility)
  • Push: Bodyweight Push-Up super-set w/ Band Face Pull
    • BW Push-Up 3X8 (2-1-1 tempo)
    • Band Face Pull             3X15 (corrective – posterior shoulder strength)
  • Pull: Pull-Up Iso Hold super-set w/ Band Pallov Press 
    • Pull-Up Iso Hold 4XMaxHold
    • Band Pallov Press 4X12 each side (core activation)

Week 4 – Strength Accumulation 

  • Active Dynamic Warm Up
  • Core Activation 
    • Bird Dogs, Plank Rockers
  • Single Leg Hop Mechanics 
    • Lateral Hurdle Hops – w/ Counter Movement
    • Medial Hurdle Hops – w/ Counter Movement
    • Forward Hurdle Hops – w/ No Counter Movement
  • Strength 
    • Hinge: Kettle Bell Deadlift super-set w/ Side Plank Hold 
      • Kettle Bell Deadlift 4X5 (3-1-1 tempo)
      • Side Plank 4X30 seconds each side (core activation)
  • Squat: Bodyweight Squat super-set w/ Lateral Band Walks 
    • Bodyweight Squat 4X10 (3-3-1 tempo)
    • Lateral Band Walks 4X10 each way (corrective – glute activation)
  • Push: Push-Up Iso Hold super-set w/ T/Y/W Holds
    • Push-Up Iso Hold 3X6 (2-5-1 tempo)
    • T/Y/W Hold 3X15 sec (corrective – posterior shoulder strength)
  • Pull: Eccentric Pull-Up super-set w/ Split Stance Pallov Press 
    • Eccentric Pull-Up 3X6 (5-X-X)
    • Split Stance Pallov 3X10 each side (core activation)

Week 6 – Strength Realization 

  • Active Dynamic Warm Up
  • Core Activation 
    • Dead Bugs, Plank Pull Through
  • Jumping Mechanics 
    • Box Jumps, Depth Jump to Box Jump
  • Strength 
    • Hinge: Kettle Bell Swing super-set w/ Bird Dogs 
      • Kettle Bell Swing 4X8
      • Bird Dogs 4X8 each side (core activation)
  • Squat: Goblet Squat super-set w/ Groiner Stretch 
    • Goblet Squat 4X6 (3-2-1 tempo)
    • Groiner Stretch 4X6 each side (corrective – hip mobility)
  • Push: Eccentric Push Up super-set w/ Band Pull Apart 
    • Eccentric Push Up 3X8 (5-2-1 tempo)
    • Band Pull Apart 3X15 (corrective – posterior shoulder strength)
  • Pull: Suspended Row super-set w/ Med Ball Chop
    • Suspended Rows 3X12 (1-2-1 tempo)
    • Med Ball Chop 3X10 each side (core activation)

Week 8 – Technical Mastery 

  • Active Dynamic Warm Up
  • Core Activation 
    • Band Pallov Press, Med Ball Slams
  • Jumping Mechanics 
    • Broad Jumps, Depth Jump to Broad Jump
  • Strength 
    • Hinge: Trap Bar Deadlift super-set w/ Slow Mountain Climbers 
      • Trap Bar Deadlifts 4X5
      • Slow MTN Climbers 4X8 each side (core activation and hip mobility)
  • Squat: Barbell or PVC Front Squat super-set w/ Pigeon Stretch 
    • Barbell Front Squat 4X6 (3-1-1 tempo)
    • Pigeon Stretch 4X6 each side (corrective – hip mobility)
  • Push: Dumbbell Bench Press super-set w/ BlackBurns
    • DB Bench Press 4X6 (3-1-1 tempo)
    • BlackBurns 4X15 (corrective – posterior shoulder strength)
  • Pull: Full Pull-Ups super-set w/ Med Ball Chop
    • Full Pull-Ups             3XMaxReps (1-2-1 tempo)
    • Med Ball Chop 3X10 each side (core activation)

Full 8 Week Progression for the 4 Primary Movements:

The Hinge Movements: 

  • Phase 1: PVC RDL
    • Week 1
    • Week 2
  • Phase 2: Kettlebell Deadlift and RDL
    • Week 3
    • Week 4
    • Week 5
  • Phase 3: Kettlebell Swing 
    • Week 6
    • Week 7
    • Week 8
  • Phase 4: Trap Bar Deadlift
    • This is assuming that proper technique is mastered in the first 8 weeks. If not, this movement should not be implemented.

The Squat Movements:

  • Phase 1: Squat Iso Hold
    • Week 1
    • Week 2
  • Phase 2: Bodyweight Squat 
    • Week 3
    • Week 4
  • Phase 3: Goblet Squat 
    • Week 5
    • Week 6
    • Week 7
    • Week 8
  • Phase 4: Barbell Front Squat 
    • This is assuming that proper technique is mastered in the first 8 weeks. If not, this movement should not be implemented.

The Push Movements: 

  • Phase 1: Bodyweight Push-Up
    • Week 1
    • Week 2
  • Phase 2: Push Up Iso Hold
    • Week 3
    • Week 4
  • Phase 3: Eccentric Push-Up
    • Week 5
    • Week 6
  • Phase 4: Dumbbell Bench Press 
    • Week 7
    • Week 8

The Pull Movements 

  • Phase 1: Pull-Up Iso-Hold
    • Week 1
    • Week 2
  • Phase 2: Eccentric Pull-Up
    • Week 3
    • Week 4
  • Phase 3: Suspended Rows
    • Week 5
    • Week 6
  • Phase 4: Full Pull-Up
    • Week 7
    • Week 8

There you have it.  The full approach to building a young athlete the proper way in order to set them up for long-term success in the weight room.  Remember, the key is patience and coaching with detail.  If we use this structured approach the athlete will have a strong foundation and know how each movement should feel.  The most important phase an athlete can go through is the introductory one.  Take the time, do it right.  We’re not breaking any records in middle school.

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