High School Off Season Lifting

I’m a high school strength and conditioning coach, I’ll be honest I am not certified like CSCS or anything like that but I am a K-12 Physical Education teacher so I feel I know a lot about the human body and muscles and what not. I have a lot of friends who are more “qualified” and I go to them a lot for questions and what not about training. I do this to help me when students ask me questions.

My question for you is what/how do you think an off season workout should be set up. I think the basics core lift can go a long way (squat, deadlifts, bench press, push press) but others think complex lifts (power clean to press and other power clean variations) are the way to go. Knowing that the kids(grades 8-12) only lift 3 days a week what do you recommend for an off season program. Just looking for ideas. Thanks for all you do.

There are 6 or 7 (depending on who you ask) key movement patterns to train with a young athlete. And he most important thing is to make them strong and technically efficient in those patterns.

The basic 6 patterns are:
Hip hinge
Horizontal press
Vertical press
Horizontal pull
Vertical pull

And to that some add a 7th one: unilateral leg movements.

Now each pattern has exercises of various levels of difficulty. And much like school you don’t skip to a more advanced “grade” before you have mastered the preceding one.

For example:

Level 1 - goblet squat, KB squat, DB (one in each hand) squat
Level 2 - Front squat
Level 3 - Back squat

Level 1 - Romanian deadlift
Level 2 - Deadlift
Level 3 - Power clean from hang, power snatch from hang, KB swing
Level 4* - Power clean from floor, power snatch from floor

  • This level is no necessary to reach a the early high school level

Level 1 - Push ups (don’t laugh most don’t do them properly)
Level 2 - Bench press, incline bench press
Level 3 - DB bench press, incline DB press

Level 1 - Military press
Level 2 - Push press
Level 3 - Power or split jerks

Level 1 - Seated row on pulley station
Level 2 - Bent over barbell row (the ahlete must first master the Romanian deadlift and deadlift)
Level 3 - Ring row/invered row eventually shooting to do them torso parallel to he floor by elevating feet

Level 1 - La pulldown on pulley station
Level 2 - Assisted pull-ups
Level 3 - Pull-ups

Level 1 - Split squat, Bulgarian split squat
Level 2 - Backward static lunge, forward static lunge
Level 3 - Backward walking lunge, forward walking lunge

The key is not to skip step just because you want to add some lifts that are popular in college and pro programs. It’s better to stick to the lower levels longer and really hammer in perfect position and technique.

Thank you for your quick reply. With this being said (and I agree with all of this) should young athletes max out and use percentages to complete these workouts. If you think they should how often should they max out on these core movements?

Add loaded carries if you can

Good advice. Farmer’s walk, wheelbarrow walk, overhead walk, etc.

No they shouldn’t max out nor use percentages (percentages means maxing out). I suggest keeping the reps in the 3-8 reps range. Probably do something like 4 weeks of 8s, 4 weeks of 5s, 4 weeks of 3s. Except if you eventually do cleans, jerks and snatches on which you should no go higher than 5.

Focus on using a challenging weight for the number of reps selected but never going to the point where a rep is grinded up or form broken up.

I would divide the body in upper and lower body days. with 4 or even 6 sessions per week if manageable

The way that works best for our kids where we are from is going 3 days a week. What would you recommend for a split for 3 days a week? You mention going 4 days, so would it be smart to make 4 workouts (2 upper and 2 Lower) and circulate through those so week 1 would be workouts 1,2,3 and then week 2 would be workouts 2,3,4? So in a way do your Power Look Program (modify for HS Kids) and circulate through those 4 days?

Yes that would be my recommendation… that or having one upper, one lower and whole body day