By Rick Scarpulla Stack.com
This is the time of year when athletes should focus on getting stronger.
Today, there are so many new and so-called improved methods and exercises for athletes to choose from, many times it can be downright confusing. You can go online and find an endless supply of videos showing people doing all kinds of crazy things, all claiming to make you faster and stronger. Much of this is a total waste of time for high school athletes.
When it comes to strength training, most high school athletes should stick to a simple, basic program focusing on foundational strength. All the bells and whistles are merely distractions for a high school football player.
A solid program of nothing but compound barbell movements will yield great results for most high school athletes. A large majority of high school athletes lack basic foundational strength, so adding isolation methods and exercises is not really doing much for them at all.
Look at it this way: foundational strength is like human horsepower. If you have a car and make fancy upgrades to the engine, but the engine still only has 50 horsepower, what’s the point? The car will still barely move.
Same thing with a high school athlete: no horsepower (i.e., strength), no speed or power. You can use all the fancy training methods and all shiny new isolation equipment you can get your hands on, but it won’t do you much good at all. Like anything else, the most important part is a solid foundation or frame.
If you want to get faster, get stronger. If you want to get stronger, keep it simple until you have a firm foundation.
When I work with high school athletes I keep it very basic. Lots of Squats, Deadlifts and Bench Pressing.
I hear some coaches say, “Well I don’t want my athletes to be big slow powerlifters.” No kidding! I don’t want that either. Athletes come to me to get quicker and more explosive. Would I stay in business very long if I made them slower?
Another fact is that most high school athletes are so skinny or soft, they have a very, very long time before any of that nonsense even enters the picture.
Same story with girls. They come to me skinny and weak, and first thing they say is, ” I don’t want to get all bulky.” Really? Do you think if you lift weights for a couple of months you will get bulky? Don’t flatter yourself—your genetics are not that gifted.
It takes a very long time before a high school athlete has to worry about getting too bulky.
Athletes work for years to get big and bulky. Most skinny or soft high school athletes have nothing to worry about. In addition, most high school athletes do not eat or sleep correctly, so fears of getting big and bulky are truly laughable.
If you want to get better at your sport, keep it basic in the gym with lots of barbell work. Lift in the moderate range of 6-12 reps. Focus your training on the big three power lifts—Squat, Bench and Deadlift—twice a week each. Split your workouts into upper-body and lower-body days.
On lower-body days, do four exercises. That’s it; that is all you need. Do 3-5 sets of each and mix up the order. Switch from starting with a Deadlift movement to starting with a Squat each week. You can also mix up your foot position, going from narrow stance to wide stance on both of the aforementioned. Keep it simple and get in and get out of the gym.
On upper-body days, do a Bench Press variation. You can rotate them in a 1-2-3 fashion. Week 1, do a flat bench, Week 2 an incline, Week 3 a decline, and so on. You can do a flat bench every other week if you prefer. But mix it up.
Follow that with a Shoulder Press then some Pull-Ups or Dips and some Back Rows. Add some Push-Up work on some days as a switch. That is all you need. Remember, work one day each of upper body and lower body, and mix up the weight and reps. One day use heavy weight with lower reps, and another day go with lighter weights at higher reps.
Eat right, sleep right and follow this simple template, and in 8 weeks you will see nice improvement in speed and strength on the field.