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Designing a Lifting Program for High School Football

Ok, this is gonna be a long post, so get ready. For the last two seasons I?ve been an asst. coach on high school football teams, the offensive and defensive line coach. This year I?m also the de facto strength coach.

A little background info on what I?m working with. For the winter season (now til about late February) I expect to have 12-15 players in the weightroom. For at least the month of November and possibly the month of December they have no conditioning work, no speed work, no positional work, NOTHING they are responsible for except lifting.
They range in age from 14-16 years old. Most of them have been in the weightroom before, so I?m not dealing with total beginners, however, I?m sure some of the freshman will be completely new to this. Almost all of them lack any real base of muscle mass (I think that right now we have three kids on the team over 200 lbs.) Some seem to have good posterior chains (compared to overall strength) and in some it?s appallingly weak. I have two benches, an incline, a squat rack (not a power rack,) a back extension, 2 lat pull stations, a cable row, numerous dumbbells, a stability ball, blocks and plenty of other pieces of equipment which I consider to be worthless (for the record: leg press, leg ext, leg curl, smith machine, some cable attachments, etc.) No GHR, Rev Hyper, power rack or any of that other fun stuff.

I?m looking to steal from a couple of sources: Big Martin?s post on tier training for his athletes, http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do;jsessionid=CECAE8A346FEC965EDCD8FC41536D73C.ba13-1?id=432787

Westside for Skinny Bastards, DeFranco?s Strongman training for Athletes (I don?t have any of this in yet, my HC doesn?t want us outside til the weather warms up in the spring) Some of Wendler?s articles on Elite about Westside and football players and best of all, I just got my Coach?s Strength Training Playbook from Elite. I just got it yesterday so if anyone has any advice specific to that, lemme know and I?ll skip ahead to that part in the book. I divided the week up into two upper days, and two lower days; unlike Westside they?re not ME/DE since I figured emphasizing special strengths in trainees so young probably wouldn?t be all that productive. Instead they?ll do one day of 5x5 and one day of 3 sets of 12/10/8 reps. Thoughts on this? I wanted to come up with a split that would train movements, not muscles. Here?s the division:
Upper body days
Horizontal Pressing
Horizontal Pulling
Vertical Pressing
Vertical Pulling
External rotation

On the second upper day of the week the order of the pressing and pulling motions would be reversed to balance out/avoid any imbalances.

Lower body days
Compound Movement
Hip Extension
Unilateral Movement
Core Work

So that?s how it?s set up, here?s the exercise selections
Horizontal Pressing
Flat Barbell Bench Press
Incline Barbell Bench Press
Flat DB Bench Press Palms Facing In
Flat DB Press Palms Facing Feet
Inc DB Press Palms In
Inc DB Press Palms Facing Feet
Pushups
Pushups with Feet Elevated
CG Bench
CG Inc Bench

Vertical Pressing
Standing Military Press
Standing DB Press Elbows Out
Standing DB Press Elbows Forward
Dips
Bradford Press

Horizontal Pulling
BB row to Chest
BB Row to Stomach
One Arm Row
Chest Supported Row off a Bench
T-Bar Row (ghetto version: stick a BB in a corner, load it with 45?s and use a v-bar as a handle)

Vertical Pulling
Lat Pulls
Eccentric Pullups
Partner Assisted Pullups
Upright Rows

External Rotation
Poor Man?s Shoulder Horn
External Rotations with Bands

Just so there?s no misunderstanding, they don?t do ALL of these exercises, they pick one from each category every upper body day.

Lower Body
Compound
Box Squat
ATG Squat
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Deadlift
Deadlift off a platform

Hip Extension
Back Extension with weight on chest
Back Extension with weight behind head
Pull Thru
Banded Good Morning
Straight Leg DL (BB/DB)

Unilateral Work
Lunges (static, walking, dynamic, lateral)
Single Leg Squats

Core (do TWO exercises every leg day)
Ab Pulls (use the tricep rope, weighted crunch)
Leg Raise
Russian Twist
Plank
Ab Wheel

We?ve really just started this program this week, so it?s totally fluid and I?m not at all in love with it yet; it?s totally flexible so I?d like to open this (and myself) to any critiques, questions, observations, whatever. Just to get the ball rolling I do have a few questions myself:

  1. Can the kids handle a higher volume since they are neuromuscularly inefficient?

  2. In the same vein, how can I make sure that the workouts are challenging enough? They?re already bitching that it?s too easy or too short (some of them finish in 30-45 min) As a follow up, how should I deal with kids who want to do more? Let em do body building crap?

  3. I?m placing an emphasis on compensatory acceleration; would contrast methods such as chains be appropriate for kids this young?

  4. How can I/should I progress these? I?ve started with box squats just to get the kids to parallel with the bar, before I bring in the front squat, over head, etc, I?m starting them with the One Arm Row off a bench so they don?t have to support themselves with their lower back yet as in a BB row

  5. Where can I/should I put total body movements eg, cleans, push presses, snatches, jammers, etc.

  6. Any advice on
    a) teaching lifts that the kids could (and very likely will, the little spastics) f-ck up, eg pull thrus, rounded Back Extensions, a Good Morning, upright rows, Conventional Deadlifts, Straight Leg Deads? and
    b) defending my decision to incorporate these lifts from any well meant questions from my AD, athletic trainer, etc?

  7. If a kid doesn?t have the flexibility to do an ATG squat, suggestions?

  8. Should I include dedicated rear delt work or let the rows take care of it?

  9. Should the kids use wrist straps on exercises where grip becomes an issue? On the one hand I feel like grip strength isn?t really important to a football player ? any notion of a game saving tackle being missed because of a weak grip seems like bs to me ? but on the other hand I don?t want to neglect any links in the chain.

  10. If a kid doesn?t have the flexibility to do an ATG squat, suggestions?

  11. Would a Face Pull qualify as a horizontal or vertical pulling motion?

  12. How do people feel about Leg Curls being included as an option on Leg day? I know knee flexion isn?t the most important thing for athletes, but at the same time, with my limited resources I wanna hit the post chain with whatever I got.

  13. Should I include advanced methods eg drop sets?

  14. Any suggestions on adding in plyometrics?

Finally, if you?ve read this far ? Thanks

that is a really good set up program…i can only see one thing i would personally change…some of the moves below i think can be done in a gpp warm up wich will actually allow you to use 1 more move in the gymon this day such as a oly hybrid, like power cleans, hang cleans, a dead lift variety ect

Hip Extension
Back Extension with weight on chest
Back Extension with weight behind head
Pull Thru
Banded Good Morning
Straight Leg DL (BB/DB)

Unilateral Work
Lunges (static, walking, dynamic, lateral)
Single Leg Squats

Core (do TWO exercises every leg day)
Ab Pulls (use the tricep rope, weighted crunch)
Leg Raise
Russian Twist
Plank
Ab Wheel

so i would personally pick 3 of these moves each work out and do them before the weight room work example…

walking body weight lunges 3-5 sets of say the length of the basketball court or 50 yards ect…

band gms- 3-5 sets of 20 reps…put the guys in groups and the lighter squaters use a light band and the stronger guys can use a green band…

ab work…then have them do ab work…

and you should makethis intense and make it super seted and quick one move after another…

this will do 3 things…

  1. team work ect…you can see the heart, work ethic, of guys and team members can push them harder than you can if you have good leaders…

  2. it will get them in shape…and in foot ball you cant be in good enought shape…espicially moves like this that act a latic acid training…

  3. warm them up, keep them from getting injured…

you can do this on upper body day also, with moves like push ups, bear crawls, band face pulls ect…

also end each session as a team also i think that important…dont let any kids think there indivduals working harder than the other kids…get it so there a team being pushed and the leaders arent showing off but being forced ot give the same effort as every other kid…this will really help coem season…no one will fell they worked harder than any one else…soem things i did here was do gpp team thing like competitions, ect…things liek tire flips, sled dragging, jumping jacks, burpies, bear crawls ect…

…good luck and let me know if you have any other questions…rb

[quote]KBCThird wrote:
Ok, this is gonna be a long post, so get ready. For the last two seasons I?ve been an asst. coach on high school football teams, the offensive and defensive line coach. This year I?m also the de facto strength coach.

A little background info on what I?m working with. For the winter season (now til about late February) I expect to have 12-15 players in the weightroom. For at least the month of November and possibly the month of December they have no conditioning work, no speed work, no positional work, NOTHING they are responsible for except lifting.
They range in age from 14-16 years old. Most of them have been in the weightroom before, so I?m not dealing with total beginners, however, I?m sure some of the freshman will be completely new to this. Almost all of them lack any real base of muscle mass (I think that right now we have three kids on the team over 200 lbs.) Some seem to have good posterior chains (compared to overall strength) and in some it?s appallingly weak. I have two benches, an incline, a squat rack (not a power rack,) a back extension, 2 lat pull stations, a cable row, numerous dumbbells, a stability ball, blocks and plenty of other pieces of equipment which I consider to be worthless (for the record: leg press, leg ext, leg curl, smith machine, some cable attachments, etc.) No GHR, Rev Hyper, power rack or any of that other fun stuff.

I?m looking to steal from a couple of sources: Big Martin?s post on tier training for his athletes, http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do;jsessionid=CECAE8A346FEC965EDCD8FC41536D73C.ba13-1?id=432787

Westside for Skinny Bastards, DeFranco?s Strongman training for Athletes (I don?t have any of this in yet, my HC doesn?t want us outside til the weather warms up in the spring) Some of Wendler?s articles on Elite about Westside and football players and best of all, I just got my Coach?s Strength Training Playbook from Elite. I just got it yesterday so if anyone has any advice specific to that, lemme know and I?ll skip ahead to that part in the book. I divided the week up into two upper days, and two lower days; unlike Westside they?re not ME/DE since I figured emphasizing special strengths in trainees so young probably wouldn?t be all that productive. Instead they?ll do one day of 5x5 and one day of 3 sets of 12/10/8 reps. Thoughts on this? I wanted to come up with a split that would train movements, not muscles. Here?s the division:
Upper body days
Horizontal Pressing(priority)
Horizontal Pulling(priority)
Vertical Pressing(tool)
Vertical Pulling(tool)
External rotation(priority)

On the second upper day of the week the order of the pressing and pulling motions would be reversed to balance out/avoid any imbalances.

Lower body days
Compound Movement
Hip Extension
Unilateral Movement
Core Work

So that?s how it?s set up, here?s the exercise selections
Horizontal Pressing
Flat Barbell Bench Press
Incline Barbell Bench Press
Flat DB Bench Press Palms Facing In
Flat DB Press Palms Facing Feet
Inc DB Press Palms In
Inc DB Press Palms Facing Feet
Pushups
Pushups with Feet Elevated
CG Bench
CG Inc Bench
what about swiss ball dumbbell press

Vertical Pressing
Standing Military Press
Standing DB Press Elbows Out
Standing DB Press Elbows Forward
Dips
Bradford Press

Horizontal Pulling
BB row to Chest(pronated!)
BB Row to Stomach(pronated!)
One Arm Row(no 10 reps cheating set please!)
Chest Supported Row off a Bench
T-Bar Row (ghetto version: stick a BB in a corner, load it with 45?s and use a v-bar as a handle)

Vertical Pulling
Lat Pulls
Eccentric Pullups(eccentric maybe for lineman, not for others)
Partner Assisted Pullups
Upright Rows (ouch!) cuban press is a better option (opinion)
supinated chin up

External Rotation
Poor Man?s Shoulder Horn
External Rotations with Bands
Low cable external rotation
Seated front dumbbell external rotation

Just so there?s no misunderstanding, they don?t do ALL of these exercises, they pick one from each category every upper body day.

Lower Body
Compound
Box Squat
ATG Squat
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Deadlift(snatch grip too!)
Deadlift off a platform

Hip Extension
Back Extension with weight on chest
Back Extension with weight behind head(not for athletes to young, my opinion for technical issues vs injury possibility)
Pull Thru
Banded Good Morning
Straight Leg DL (BB/DB)
Seated good morning
Floor good morning

Unilateral Work
Lunges (static, walking, dynamic, lateral)
Single Leg Squats(very good choice can be done on a box with dumbbells)

Core (do TWO exercises every leg day)
Ab Pulls (use the tricep rope, weighted crunch)
Leg Raise
Russian Twist
Plank
Ab Wheel
Low cable knee elevation (if available a very valuable exercice)
High cable tornado i-e russian twist+crunch)
incline russian twist with dumbbell

We?ve really just started this program this week, so it?s totally fluid and I?m not at all in love with it yet; it?s totally flexible so I?d like to open this (and myself) to any critiques, questions, observations, whatever. Just to get the ball rolling I do have a few questions myself:

  1. Can the kids handle a higher volume since they are neuromuscularly inefficient?

Kids who play sport doesn’t have to handle higher volume. Make them strong not sick! They don’t have to leave the gym totally exausted. They are young and people who are the better at what they do are often those who enjoy the game the most!

  1. In the same vein, how can I make sure that the workouts are challenging enough? They?re already bitching that it?s too easy or too short (some of them finish in 30-45 min) As a follow up, how should I deal with kids who want to do more? Let em do body building crap?

Kids who finnish to fast, don’t let them use too short rest between sets.
Kids who want more should give more on the field, not in the gym where they only should do whats good particulary in-season.

  1. I?m placing an emphasis on compensatory acceleration; would contrast methods such as chains be appropriate for kids this young?

Not at all, kids should learn basic principle, westside trained 20 year without band and grow stronger these are advanced stuff. Technique and progress first then details focus bacome important. The better way for them to be more explosive is by become more strong. According to some research up to 90% of speed strength depend on maximal strength.

  1. How can I/should I progress these? I?ve started with box squats just to get the kids to parallel with the bar, before I bring in the front squat, over head, etc, I?m starting them with the One Arm Row off a bench so they don?t have to support themselves with their lower back yet as in a BB row

Don’t fool themselves with too much movements, they learn stuff! Practice makes perfect.

  1. Where can I/should I put total body movements eg, cleans, push presses, snatches, jammers, etc.

First on every max effort day
push press max effort upper body
cleans, snatches max effort lower body

  1. Any advice on
    a) teaching lifts that the kids could (and very likely will, the little spastics) f-ck up, eg pull thrus, rounded Back Extensions, a Good Morning, upright rows, Conventional Deadlifts, Straight Leg Deads? and
    b) defending my decision to incorporate these lifts from any well meant questions from my AD, athletic trainer, etc?

Put all new exercise in front of a workout and work 15-20min on it without worry about other stuff, and this is also true for abs work.
No one should question your methods, there is no absolute way, just option and tool to achieve goal and those are the bests you came across in your life.

  1. If a kid doesn?t have the flexibility to do an ATG squat, suggestions?

One word PNF!!!
See the stretching roundtable

  1. Should I include dedicated rear delt work or let the rows take care of it?

And what a bout shaving course for the older ones. Just kidding but not necessary with row work, but x-row and cable press to the neck may be good idea.

  1. Should the kids use wrist straps on exercises where grip becomes an issue? On the one hand I feel like grip strength isn?t really important to a football player ? any notion of a game saving tackle being missed because of a weak grip seems like bs to me ? but on the other hand I don?t want to neglect any links in the chain.

Wrist straps should only be used if they limit the real muscle to do the work, ex: forearms not enough strong to deadlift big weight, use it but work on grip, the goal is to stop using them, powerlifting powder may be an option here.

  1. If a kid doesn?t have the flexibility to do an ATG squat, suggestions?

Same question, same answer
One word PNF!!!
See the stretching roundtable

  1. Would a Face Pull qualify as a horizontal or vertical pulling motion?

Yes, yes and yes and a good one, little more higher reps tought.

  1. How do people feel about Leg Curls being included as an option on Leg day? I know knee flexion isn?t the most important thing for athletes, but at the same time, with my limited resources I wanna hit the post chain with whatever I got.

Only in accumulation cycle, but i suspect you do not use them so don’t use it. Not the best tool for athletes.

  1. Should I include advanced methods eg drop sets?

Not yet. Rest-pause may be a good one tought.

  1. Any suggestions on adding in plyometrics?

Yes, don’t do them now and make your athletes fucking strong!!!

Finally, if you?ve read this far ? Thanks
[/quote]

We have experience training teens to powerlift. I don’t have much experience outside of that realm. Just want to preface my response with that. Anyway, here are some random thoughts in regards to your questions.

No emotion attached whatsoever.

  1. Your premise that teens are neurolomuscularly inefficeint provides more of a reason to have them perform a core movement a couple weeks in a row. They can typically get away with this and I have found it difficult to teach good form when you are constantly mixing it up. Additionally, I would only put two or three core movements in front of them at first. Your list is good but IMHO has the potential to result in basically an emphasis on nothing.

  2. You will determine if the workout is challenging enough by making them keep training logs and track progress. It really is that simple. Their thoughts are not particularly important at this stage in their training. Two years down the road, absolutely.

  3. Be cautious with your emphasis on compensatory acceleration. It is well placed but I have seen it result in some really stupid behavior in the gym. Like deciding that the further the bar comes off your shoulders at the top of a squat, or the more your back comes off the bench, the more explosive you are.

Additionally, kids can really slam into the lockout position, particularly on bench, which can be very hard on connective tissue. Do it, but supervise closely at first.

Contrast method is not needed at this point.

In regards to getting kids to develop flexibility to squat deep, this can be a pretty complex issue. IMHO, you are probably going to have to take a multifaceted approach to this. Take the kids you are having a problem with and experiment with stances. Point their toes in or out. Raise or lower bar position. There are so many variables that can affect a kids ability to achieve depth. Alot of the time, it is just confidence.

My advice to you is to keep it simple at first and work on getting these kids to a point where they show up and do things with satisfactory form in some basic compound movements and progress from there.

Your time is going to be well spent watching them train compound movements, making assessments of relative strengths and weaknesses, and encouraging them to engage in accesory movements that address this.

All too often, teens tend to train what they are strongest at almost to the exclusion of weakness.

Lastly, Big M has some great suggestions in regards to instilling a sense of comraderie and team. This is almost always overlooked and really to the detriment of the team. If they are having fun in the gym, they will train harder and be more inclined to continue when you are not around. Think about it, training partner comraderie is huge.

Good luck. Sounds like fun.

I would HIGHLY recommend that you buy Joe Kenn’s book. He is the strength and conditioning coach for Arizona State. He has a multitude of workouts that would work for both your advanced and less experienced athletes. It is the best book that I have bought in a long time.