Creating A High School Strength Program – Pt. 2

In part 1 we discussed some of the key factors that must be considered before designing high school strength and conditioning programs. I would highly recommend checking it out before reading this section as it provides a foundation for the template I will provide below.

So after you have figured out what your sport is all about, how many kids you have, what kind of equipment and the training age of your athletes, you get to finally design the program. The simplest way to create a program is start by mapping out your training year and competitive season. For the purposes of this article I will use baseball since it is my primary sport.

High school baseball typically starts in the spring, although some areas compete in the summer months (I’m looking at you Iowa). Here in California our season starts at the end of February. Using that as our starting point we will actually work backwards. Assuming we are only doing work during the school year, up until we start playing games in February, I would utilize that month as a “pre season” block. A pre season block means the period right before the start of your season where you are getting extremely sport specific. You will back off weight room time and anything you do will be geared towards aggressively developing energy systems and movements related to your sport. I would utilize January to attempt to squeeze out any last ounces of strength the athletes and transition to a more power based workout. We would definitely be working more outside of the sagittal plane and utilizing more single leg exercises for lower body development.

The four months in the fall (September-December) will be used to develop the proper movement patterns found in part 1 and packing on as much strength as we can. Over the course of 16 weeks, your athletes will see significant increases in strength and bodyweight. Ideally you would want to be in the weight room 4 days a week during this period but 3 will work as well. Since they are young athletes, your goal should be to introduce them to as many different variations as possible during this period. Utilize back squats, front squats, zercher squats, goblet squats, etc. At this stage in the game, ANYTHING WORKS, as long as you progress them appropriately. It won’t matter what style of squats they are doing, they will see results because of their lack of training experience.

If you have the opportunity I would highly recommend spending a month prior to the start of your program taking your athletes through some light conditioning. Conditioning does not mean running them until they puke. It should never be used as a form of “mental toughness.” Cardio means anything involving getting the heart rate up. This does not mean we have to run, although it will be involved. This month is an optimal time to perform circuits of the movement patterns with bodyweight variations and some light jogging. The only stipulations during this period are to not focus on loading the athletes and make sure they can maintain a conversation during and after your workouts. You are only setting a foundation here. They will build on it in the following months.

I would recommend against finding 1 rep maxes for your athletes. Although it is cool to be able to show off exactly how much they can bench, the risk/reward is not worth it. Unless the sport you are coaching involves lifting weights (powerlifting, weightlifting) there is no need to find a true 1RM. I prefer to find a 5RM and using a online calculator to estimate what their 1RM would be. The 5RM is typically very light and manageable for the athlete and can still reasonably be used to estimate the 1RM for percentage based programs.

Block Layout for High School Baseball Development:

August (If possible): Light conditioning and bodyweight movement circuits

September: Lightly loaded movement patterns and light conditioning

October: Medium load movement patterns, find 5RM and light conditioning

November: Heavy loads on movement patterns, no conditioning

December: Heavy loads on movement patterns (find 5RM), no conditioning

January: Decrease in frequency, maintain heavy loads on movement patterns, add plyometric work, condition based on proper energy system

February: Decrease frequency and load, focus on speed/explosiveness, condition based on proper energy system

March-June: Dominate

 

-MOC

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