Off-Season/Pre-Season Training for the High School Athlete

TAGS: pre-season, hockey, neary, high school, athlete, strength, strength coach, training

It seems that the terms off-season and pre-season are synonymous in the world of high school athletics. Most of the athletes who I train play multiple sports or participate in the same sport in multiple seasons. Unlike the college athlete, the high school athlete doesn’t have 16–24 plus weeks in the off-season/pre-season to devote to a comprehensive strength and conditioning program. Looking back through my athletes’ old training logs, I concluded that the training period during their off-season/pre-season lasted between 6–10 weeks, with an average of about eight weeks. Based on this information, I created the following eight-week template to use with the athletes who I trained this past summer. The athlete trains on three nonconsecutive days per week. Multiple strength training methods are utilized to develop strength and power while also providing a conditioning base.

*All baseball players and any other athlete whose primary sport skill is performed overhead (i.e. football quarterbacks, volleyball, swimming, or tennis) used the “Westside for Baseball” program posted on EliteFTS in August 2007 with some minor adaptations. The loading parameters and exercise selection closely mimicked the ones in this template.

Exercise pool

My training facility consists of a 50-foot X 4-foot rubber track rollout and about 100 square feet of space in the back of a baseball training center. It used to be a dumpster overflow area if that paints a better picture for everyone. Needless to say, I have to make use of every last piece of equipment and every inch that I have. Below is a list of exercises that I chose to use for this template. Keep in mind that these aren’t set in stone, and if you like another exercise, by all means use it.

·  Horizontal push, barbell bench press and all of its variations

·  Horizontal push dumbbell, dumbbell bench press and all of its variations

·  Horizontal push body weight push-ups and all of its variations

·  Horizontal pull, any row—barbell, cable, body weight, dumbbell

·  Horizontal pull, body weight inverted row or recline row

·  Vertical pull, any pull-up, chin-up, pull-down

·  Vertical pull body weight, pull-up or chin-up

·  Unilateral lower barbell or dumbbell, step-up, lunge or one-leg squat and all of their variations

·  Posterior chain, Romanian deadlift, natural glute ham raise, band leg curl, band god mornings

·  Weighted torso flexion, any weighted abdominal exercise where the torso is the prime
mover

·  Static abdominals, prone bride, side bridge

·  Rotational abdominals, any rotational exercise in transverse plane

·  Shoulder stability, any from the following list—face pull, rotator, YTWL’s, posterior deltoid

·  Elbow flexion, any biceps exercise

·  Elbow extension, any triceps exercise

·  Prowler push, push sled peg as if pushing low handles of a Prowler; it's the
poor man’s version

The program

Week 1: Week 1 was designed to reintroduce exercise, build work capacity, and
evaluate the current levels of the athletes and their strengths and weaknesses. The weights used were sub-maximal, not exceeding 70–75 percent of the old max. All three workouts this week were full body. With my athletes, only one week was needed of these full-body workouts because the majority of them were training in-season. However, I’ve had athletes with a low
training age/experience perform this template for anywhere from 2–6 weeks to introduce exercises, develop fundamental strength, and evaluate their progress before moving them to any other methods of training.
Day 1
1)      Box squat: 4 X 8
A2)   Horizontal push (barbell exercise): 3 X 10
B2)   Horizontal pull: 3 X 10
A3)   Unilateral lower (no bar on back): 2 X 12
B3)   Body weight vertical pull: 2 X AMAP
A4)   Weighted torso flexion: 3 X x12
B4)   Body weight reverse hyperextension: 3 X 15

Day 2
A1)   Unilateral lower (barbell exercise): 3 X 10
B1)   Body weight Horizontal Pull: 3 X AMAP
A2)   Horizontal Push (dumbbell exercise): 3 X 10
B2)   Shoulder stability: 3 X 15
A3)   Elbow flexion: 2 X 12
B3)   Elbow extension: 2 X 12
4)      Static abdominals: 3 X 30 seconds

Day 3
1)      Trap bar deadlift: 4 X 6
A2)   Body weight horizontal push: 2 X 15, 1 X AMAP
B2)   Horizontal pull: 3 X 8
2)      Sled Prowler push/backward drag: 5 total trips/30 yards

*Push going down, backward drag coming back.*
*Two minutes rest between sets.*

A4)   Rotational abdominals: 2 X 25
B4)   Body weight reverse hyperextension: 2 X 25

Week 2 and 3: The template for the remaining training cycle is introduced (day 1: ME lower; day 2: ME upper; day 3: full body). Max effort work is introduced, although not a true 1RM is designated. All of the weights continue to be sub-maximal and the evaluation process of each
athlete continues.

Week 2:

Day 1
1)      Box squat: work up to 5RM
2)      Unilateral lower (no bar on back): 3 X 12
3)      Posterior chain: 2 X 15
4)      Sled forward drag: 5 X 20 total steps
5)      Weighted torso flexion: 3 X 12

Day 2
1)      Floor press: work up to 5RM
2)      Horizontal pull: 3 X 8
3)      Body weight vertical pull: 2 X AMAP
4)      Shoulder stability: 2 X 15
5)      Elbow extension: 3 X 10
6)      Static abdominals: 3 X 30 seconds

Day 3
1)      Unilateral lower (barbell exercise): 4 X 10
A2)   Horizontal push dumbbell: 3 X 10
B2)   Horizontal pull: 3 X 10
A3)   Elbow flexion: 3 X 10
B3)   Rotational abdominals: 3 X 20
3)      Sled backward drag: 5 X 20 total steps

Week 3:
Day 1
1)      Trap bar deadlift: work up to 5RM
2)      Unilateral lower (barbell exercise): 3 X 10
3)      Sled Prowler push: 4 X 40 yards
4)      Weight torso flexion: 3 X 10

Day 2
1)      Bench press: work up to 5 RM
2)      Horizontal pull: 3 X 8
3)      Body weight vertical pull: 2 X AMAP
4)      Shoulder stability: 2 X 15
5)      Elbow extension: 3 X 10
6)      Static abdominals: 3 X 45 seconds

Day 3
1)      Unilateral lower (barbell or dumbbell): 4 X 8
A2)   Body weight horizontal push: 2 X 15, 1 X AMAP
B2)   Body weight horizontal pull: 2 X 10–15, 1 X AMAP
A3)   Dumbbell shoulder press: 3 X 10
B3)   Elbow flexion: 3 X 10
C3)   Rotational abdominals: 3 X 20

Weeks 4 and 5: “Max” effort work is replaced with repetition work to provide a deload during the appropriate week for both the upper and lower body (upper = week 4; deload lower = week 5). Dynamic effort movements will be introduced for both the upper and lower body. General conditioning methods will intensify during these two weeks.

Week 4:
Day 1
1)      Box jump: 5 X 3
2)      Box squat: work up to 3RM
3)      Posterior chain: 3 X 12
4)      Body weight callisthenic circuit: 3 times through body weight squat: 20 reps; alternating  lunge: 20 reps; v-ups: 20 reps

Day 2
A1)   Dumbbell floor press: 3 X 10
B1)   Horizontal pull: 3 X 8
A2)   Lateral raise: 3 X 10
B2)   Shoulder stability: 3 X 15
C2)   Elbow extension: 3 X 8
3)      Static abdominals: 3 X 45 seconds

Day 3
1)      Speed bench (straight weight): 6 X 3 (using 50–55 percent of projected 1RM)
2)      Unilateral lower (barbell exercise): 4 x 8
3)      Body weight vertical pull: 3 X 6–12, 1 X AMAP
A4)   Elbow flexion: 3 X 8
B4)   Rotational abdominals: 3 X 15

5)      Sled Prowler push: 8 X 30 yards

*75 seconds rest between sets.*

Week 5:
Day 1
1)      Weighted box jump: 4 X 3
2)      Trap bar deadlift|: 3 X 15
3)      Unilateral Lower (No bar on back)-3x10
A4)   Dumbbell swings: 3 X 60 seconds
B4)   Weighted torso flexion: 3 X 10
C4)   Body weight squat: 3 X 20

Day 2
1)      Floor press: work up to 3RM
2)      Horizontal pull: 4 X 8
A3)   Horizontal push (dumbbell exercise): 3X 8
B3)   Vertical pull: 3 X 8–12
A4)   Elbow flexion: 2 X 8
B4)   Elbow extension: 2 X 8
C4)   Static abdominals: 2 X 60 seconds

Day 3
1)      Speed box squat: 8X 2 (using 50–55 percent of projected 1RM)
A2)   Body weight horizontal push: 3 X 15
B2)   Shoulder stability: 3 x 15
C3)   Body weight unilateral lower: 3 X 15
4)      Sled forward drag: 8 X 30 seconds

*Rest 60 seconds between sets.*

Weeks 6 and 7: True “max” effort work will be performed for the upper and lower body (lower
ME = week 6; upper ME = week 7). Sled conditioning work is intensive so that the athlete will enter the season with a solid conditioning level regardless of what conditioning activities their coaches want them to perform. (Yes, the football players who I train have to run a timed mile test!)

Week 6:
Day 1
1)      Box squat: work up to 1RM
2)      Weighted torso flexion: 3 X 10
3)      Sled combination drags: forward 30 yards followed by backward 30
yards followed by Prowler push 30 yards

*1:2 Work:Rest Ratio*
*Number of sets based upon state of athlete after ME squat; usually falls between 6–10.*

Day 2
1)      Bench press: work up to 3 X 3 with 70 percent of projected 1RM
2)      Horizontal pull: 5 X 6
A3)   Elbow extension: 3 X 8
B3)   Shoulder stability: 3 X 12
C3)   Static abdominals: 3 X 60 seconds

Day 3
1)      Weighted box jump: 5 X 2
2)      Speed deadlift: 6 X 1 (50–55 percent of projected 1RM)
3)      Vertical pull: 3 X 8–12
A4)   Elbow flexion: 3 X 8
B4)   Rotational abdominals: 3 X 15
5)      Sled: same as day 1 of week 6

Week 7:
Day 1
1)      Trap bar deadlift: work up to a heavy triple (not a 3RM)
2)      Unilateral lower (barbell exercise): 3 X 8
3)      Weighted torso flexion: 3 X 10
4)      Sled: same as day 1 of week 6

Day 2
1)      Bench press: work up to 1RM
2)      Horizontal pull: 5 X 6
3)      Body weight vertical pull: 2 X AMAP
4)      Static abdominals: 3 X 60 seconds

Day 3
1)      Plyo push-up or explosive medicine ball throws: 5 X 3
2)      Speed box squat: 6 X 2 (55–60 percent of 1RM box squat from week 6)
A3)   Shoulder stability: 3 X 12
B3)   Elbow flexion: 3 X 8
C3)   Elbow extension: 3 X 8
D3)   Rotational abdominals:3 X 15
D4)   Sled: Same as day 1 of week 6

Week 8: Participate in some active rest activities and/or sports-specific skill
practice. NO LIFTING! Rest and recover.

Week 9: The season starts!

The results

Below are five examples of athletes from a variety of sports who participated in this strength training template this past summer. All of them play multiple sports or the same sport in multiple seasons.

Athlete#1

Hillsborough High School football; Position: starting OT/MLB

6’0” 218 lbs
Bench press: 300 lbs (from 270 lbs)
Squat: 435 lbs (from 400 lbs)
40-yard: 4.8 (from 5.08)

Athlete#2

Hillsborough High School football; Position: starting WR/DB

5’9” 160 lbs
10-yard: 1.51 (from 1.65)
Pro agility: 4.18 (from 4.52)

*His 4.18 was the seventh fastest pro agility time out of over 150 of the top football players on the east coach at the Xtreme Xposure Combine.

Athlete#3

Hillsborough High School football; Position: starting OLB

5’10” 185 lbs
Bench press: 250 lbs (from 225 lbs)
Squat: 390 lbs (from 345 lbs)
40-yard: 4.74 (from 4.95)

Athlete#4

Montgomery High School soccer; Position: varsity goalie
Trap bar deadlift: 225 lbs/3RM (from 155 lbs/3RM nine weeks ago)
10-yard: 1.68 (from 1.84)

Athlete#5

New Jersey Rockets Travel hockey; Position: center
Squat: 195 lbs/5RM (from 165lbs/3RM nine weeks ago)
Pro agility: 4.60 (from 5.03)

Although these numbers weren’t world class, I was proud of my athletes’ efforts and accomplishments. More importantly, these athletes felt that they had an edge on the competition, both mentally and physically. They had put in the work and reaped the rewards. These kids busted their asses day in and day out and got the most out of every minute of training this summer.

Grant Neary is the owner of Power Hitter Sports Performance LLC, a performance enhancement training company based out of the Extra Innings baseball training facility in Hillsborough, New Jersey. He has been a college and high school strength coach and has also coached high school football and baseball. When his college baseball career was cut short due to a shoulder injury, he turned his attention to powerlifting. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education/exercise science, and his best lifts are a 515-lb squat, a 315-lb bench press and a 500-lb deadlift in the 165-lb class. Grant can be contacted at powerhittersp@hotmail.com.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

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