Phase 1: How You Should Start Young Athletes in the Weight Room

TAGS: youth athlete, strength and conditioning, athlete, training, Jeremy Frey

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As I talked about in my last article, I will be providing a program on where I would start a complete novice athlete in the weight room. The following program provided is just one way I would start taking into account the following parameters:

  • 12-13 years of age (seventh-grade)
  • Male (would change a few things based on female)
  • Zero experience

RECENT: How Athletes Come to College


The first two weeks would be as follows:

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Again, a very simple setup. Mainly you want to introduce them to very standard motions at a low volume. You know never know who you are going to get, so it’s best to start slow. This is a time, as is most of the time, to teach correct movement patterns and start with very general strength.

With the dumbbell squat, the expectation is to hold at the chest but it doesn’t need to be anything heavy. A little weight for counterbalancing and mostly just working movement patterns and general preparedness. A lot of this should be body weight in nature. Make sure you are teaching the push-ups correctly. It is not one set of 20 reps. You want them to complete 20 reps in the fewest amount of sets possible. Twenty is the total volume. Technique is the key: elbows in 45 degrees, body holding a plank position.

When performing the push-up eccentric you are focusing on the lowering of the movement. Control the lowering phase for five seconds at a full ROM and however you get back up doesn’t matter. This is eccentric lowering emphasis, period.

The next two weeks would be load and volume manipulation. I don’t care if they get bored with the movements. We are trying to establish good GPP and set the base for the next phase of teaching.

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Again, we are talking about four weeks here with an individual who has never trained. We crawl before we walk, walk before we run, and run before we sprint.

I systematically increase the volume of the movements based upon what I’ve seen through experience. Not everyone is the same nor should they be treated so. Adjusting some volume here and there may be necessary. This is a general outline you can follow religiously or not. This is far from scripture. Start simple with the beginner.

My next article will deal with the next phase of where to go from here.

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