Taking You from Curling in the Squat Rack to Squatting in the Curl Rack
Hey brah, how much ya’ bench?
Extra small T-shirts, half-rep bench pressing, squats in the Smith machine, and biceps curls for days describes your typical high school jock.
I don’t know about you, but I remember those high school weightlifting days. Far too many kids are in the weight room trying to outdo each other by popping more pills and looking for the quick fix. If I knew in high school what I know now, it’s pretty easy to say I would be in a much better situation. My goal with this article is to share all the mistakes I made and show those jocks that what they’re doing in the gym will hurt them in the long run. No matter how much you bench, it still doesn’t get you laid.
Strength training for a high school kid is actually quite simple. The thing is, every Joe in town wants to try the latest craze. They look up workouts online and do what their friends are attempting to do. As a high school gentleman, you have more testosterone than a bull shark getting ready to make sweet love. However, most of you don’t take advantage of that. Instead, you waste time doing biceps curls and dips, thinking that will make you look like Arnold and get you in bed with Angelina.
This program will take you from curling in the squat rack to squatting in the squat rack. It may even eliminate “chest day.” It's for the high school boy who wants the girls staring at him and, frankly, just wants to look good naked. If you play a sport, you’ll probably want to follow something a little bit more specific. If you have any injuries and/or restrictions, get those fixed before you jump on this program. If you want to look good with your shirt off and be strong as shit, this is the program for you.
Forget chest day, back and biceps day, and upper body day. I recommend sticking with a solid full body workout. Here are a couple of reasons why I program more full body workouts than anything else. First off, they keep your heart rate up, thus keeping you lean. Doing an “arm day” won't get your heart rate up, but supersetting dumbbell chest presses with chest supported rows after squatting for five sets of five will burn calories. Secondly, you’re a high school kid. You have a ton of shit going on in your life, and as much as the gym may be your priority this week, it probably won’t be next week. You meet a girl next month and kiss the gym goodbye. By doing full body workouts, missing a workout isn’t as detrimental in comparison with other formats. For example, if you miss a full body workout, you'll still hit it all again later in the week. If you’re doing individual body parts each day, you may skip “leg day” or skip “shoulder day.” Thus, your body isn't getting worked to its potential. This doesn’t mean that skipping workouts will get you results. Just like with any other program, you need to commit in order to see results.
When taking a look at a full body workout, you’ll want to have a day off in between each workout. In order to go into the next workout at 100 percent, you'll want those 24 hours to rest and recover. Those days off can be spent a few different ways. I encourage you to spend one day completely off. No gym, no anything. For most, it works best to make that day a Sunday. Depending upon your goals, the other three days should be spent a certain way. I like leaving Saturdays for “play”—playing wiffle ball on the street, playing pick-up basketball, or swimming. The other two days depend upon what your goals are. If you're that skinny, scrawny kid, you’d be better off spending the time shoving food down your throat. If you’re that chubby kid looking to shed some pounds, some form of cardio may be a good option. For cardio, I recommend interval sprints, hill sprints, sled work, jump rope, and circuits. There isn't any need for a high school guy to be cruising on a cardio machine for 45 minutes. I'll outline cardio more in the program below.
Taking a look at the lifting days. Think less is more. I always encourage high school jocks to go back to the basics. Developing a good foundation at a young age is crucial so that you actually still have the ability to train when you’re older. I encourage you to focus more on the multi-joint compound lifts rather than what you see on YouTube. Leave your ego at the door and focus on full range of motion and good technique.
Below is the ultimate program for a high school kid who wants to look good naked and be strong as hell. Stick to it, stay dedicated, don’t eat like shit, and you’ll see some pretty damn good results. You will see a lot of supersets. This keeps you on track so that you aren't wasting your time flexing in the mirror and sending out a tweet. I also know that all these workouts can be completed in under an hour, including a solid dynamic warm-up, foam rolling, and a good static stretch at the end.
Foam roll: IT band, middle back, quads, hamstrings, and adductors.
- Quadruped hip rotations
- Quadruped lateral leg lifts
- Quadruped thoracic spine mobility
- Scapula retractions
- Bodyweight squats
- Walking lunges
- Toy soldier walks
- Hip wide outs
- Spiderman walks
- Barbell squats supersetted with ankle mobility, 5 X 5
- Dumbbell chest presses supersetted with chest supported rows, 4 X 8
- Lateral raises supersetted with single-leg foot-elevated bridges, 3 X 10
- Cable triceps press-downs supersetted with dumbbell hammer curls, 4 X 10
- Prone plank holds, 3 X 45 seconds
- Reverse crunches, 3 X 15 reps
Static stretch: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, chest, shoulders, and triceps. (Each should be held for 10–20 seconds.)
Skinny kid: Eat some peanut butter.
Chubby kid: Go find a hill. It should be about 26 yards long and roughly 12.5 degrees of incline. I’m kidding. Just find the steepest hill in your town. Run up it, walk down it, and repeat 8–10 times.
Foam roll: Same as day 1.
Dynamic warm-up: Same as day 1.
- Barbell bench presses supersetted with supinated band pull aparts, 5 x 5
- Bulgarian split squats supersetted with half-kneeling hip flexor stretches, 3 x 8 and 3 X 30 seconds (This is the one that could be done on the preacher curl rack, hence the title of the article. I know, pretty clever.)
- Neutral-grip chin-ups supersetted with neutral-grip standing dumbbell shoulder presses, 3×8
- Overhead rope triceps extensions supersetted with strict standing dumbbell curls, 4 X 10
- Stability ball stir the pot: Trace the alphabet, rest, and repeat 2 more times
- Side plank isometric hold, 3 X 30 seconds
Static stretch: Same as day 1.
Skinny kid: Motivate the chubby kid. He's going to need it.
Chubby kid: Sled push death circuit.
Load up a sled with 20 percent of your body weight. Find an area about 25 yards long. Put a medicine ball at each end. Push the sled down one end and then immediately do eight medicine ball overhead slams to the ground. Rest 30 seconds. Push the sled back down and do another eight medicine ball slams. That counts as one round. See if you can complete 4–6 rounds. Then head to the nearest trash bucket and puke up the piece of school pizza you ate before making your way down to the gym. (I learned this awesome piece of conditioning from Tony Gentilcore over at Cressey Performance).
If you don’t have a sled, you can do the same exercise with a weight plate and a gym floor. Just take a towel and wrap it around a plate. The plate push is a lot harder because it’s lower to the ground. Still go for 4–6 rounds, but shorten the distance to ten yards.
Foam roll: Same as day 1.
Dynamic warm-up: Same as day 1.
- Trap bar deadlifts supersetted with TRX lateral lunges, 5 X 5 and 5 X 8 (each leg)
- Dumbbell incline alternating presses supersetted with TRX decline inverted rows, 4 X 8
- Big 60 (20 lateral raises, 20 front raises, 20 posterior flyes), 1 set
- TRX Ys supersetted with wide stance cable rotations, 3 X 12
- EZ bar skull crushers supersetted with EZ bar biceps curls, 4 X 10
- Cable Pallof presses, 3 X 10 each side
- TRX fallouts, 3 X 10
- Stability ball rollouts, 3 X 10
Static stretch: Same as day 1.
Play some pick-up basketball, wiffle ball, street hockey, or play fetch with your dog. Hell, play fetch with yourself.
Football and rest.
There you have it—taking you from squatting in the curl rack to actually squatting in the squat rack. Hell, I even gave you the option to squat on the curl rack. So please, no more cut offs, no more mirror pictures, and no more chalking up for a 135-pound deadlift. And please, no more benching on a Smith machine!
Just by reading this, you’re already a step above the rest. But only 10 percent of you will actually do something different after reading this, and probably only one percent will follow this program. Ninety-nine percent of high school rug rats are doing something wrong in the gym. In the gym and in life, strive to be that one percent.