T Nation

Recommendations for Brand New Lifter

CT,

 My 15 y/o cousin has recently been bugging me to get him started on lifting some weights so I've decided to take the time this summer to introduce him to the wide world of strength-training. He's pretty athletic and plans on playing lacrosse in high school next year (he'll be a sophomore). He's a bit above average height-wise (probably about 5'9" right now) but he's pretty skinny and has absolutely NO experience lifting weights.

Obviously, he needs to train like an athlete, but I’m a bit perplexed as to how to start him out. I’ve decided the first thing to do is to simply get him going on the major lifts by hammering away at form for a couple weeks at least with mobility work and constant practice of proper form for the squat, pressing variations, deadlift, power snatch and power clean, along with some high pulls and probably some chins as well.

But once he’s ready to actually start throwing some weight on the bar, what would you recommend for someone like him? I’d like to keep things pretty simple for him so that he can easily make the transition to working out by himself once I’m not there. I was thinking something along the lines of an abbreviated version of HP Mass or the layer system with the third layer omitted in favor of some assistance work and some extra ballistic jumping and medicine ball throwing at the beginning of the workout.

I figure I won’t really need to worry about any sort of running or conditioning since he’ll get plenty of that once he starts practicing with the lacrosse team. Just pure strength-training for now, but something that will really help him develop his athleticism and strength without wearing him out or anything like that.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Any info or program advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Hi,

I’m no CT, but maybe something like WS4SB? -it kinda fits with what he wants to achieve as well as allowing proper recovery and autoregulation for his sport. it’ll enable him to build a lot of strength and mass along with athleticism for lacrosse. he’ll be able to customise the routine to his tastes in terms of exercise choice/ available equipment etc whilst still progressing in the basic lifts you mentioned (presses/deadlifts/squats etc).

there isnt any cleans/snatches, but you could program them in fairly easily.

it has variations for off season as well etc.

http://www.defrancostraining.com/articles/38-articles/65-westside-for-skinny-bastards-part3.html

[quote]lboro21 wrote:
Hi,

I’m no CT, but maybe something like WS4SB? -it kinda fits with what he wants to achieve as well as allowing proper recovery and autoregulation for his sport. it’ll enable him to build a lot of strength and mass along with athleticism for lacrosse. he’ll be able to customise the routine to his tastes in terms of exercise choice/ available equipment etc whilst still progressing in the basic lifts you mentioned (presses/deadlifts/squats etc).

there isnt any cleans/snatches, but you could program them in fairly easily.

it has variations for off season as well etc.

http://www.defrancostraining.com/articles/38-articles/65-westside-for-skinny-bastards-part3.html[/quote]

While I appreciate your input and taking the time to make a recommendation, this sort of program is actually exactly the type of program that I’m trying to avoid with my cousin. Not that it isn’t an effective one or anything like that, it’s just that he doesn’t know what most of the exercises are and I don’t want to have to show him anywhere from 4 to 6 exercises per workout.

What I really like about CT’s methodology is that the exercise selection is extremely simple and limited. Any time that my cousin spends learning how to properly perform glute-ham raises or swiss ball back bridge leg raises is time taken away from learning how to properly deadlift, snatch or clean/jerk, for instance. I also love the idea of essentially performing both maximum effort and dynamic effort work in the same workout, which is the basic effect of ramping into a 1RM or 3RM and then performing cluster sets and that sort of approach.

Also, since I will be working out with him over the summer, while my time will be limited per day, I’d like to take advantage of the fact that he doesn’t have school all summer and try to work out as many days per week as possible, even if it means performing very little work each day until he’s built up some work capacity. The fact is that he’s a lazy, unmotivated fucker and I think it would be good for him to have to spend time every single day if possible working out, just so he gets used to the idea of having to dedicate time every day toward achieving a goal.

Haha I have lots of friends like that!!

if he really is lazy and unmotivated (your words not mine!), as well as having no experience, then maybe the layer system isn’t the best approach… I say this because although it is a simple system to follow theoretically, its still very demanding, and requires a great deal of base knowledge and experience to allow auto-regulation. it also requires a lot of dedication and motivation/will power to work up to your 3/1rm for 5-6 times a week, especially when your technique is far from developed -it will be hard for him to judge when he needs to stop ramping the weight after form breakdown or not feeling the muscle etc. as well pushing himself to get those extra cluster reps in -again, he needs to know when to stop each cluster set as well.

both HP Mass / Layer system require a great deal of consistency as well as substantial time dedicated to the gym 5-6 days a week… i know you said he’ll be on summer vacation, but you need to consider any sports training he will be doing and how much recovery he will need.

as far as learning technique, i personally think the high frequency approach is spot on, but as you pointed out, you need to help him with his work capacity. I would typically suggest using a system that advocates some higher rep work (for technique) as well as some submaximal cluster/ low rep work to build technique under intensity -the overall volume of these low rep days should be low (!).

as a ‘whole’ program, how about the tried and true 5x5 workout? squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans. boom! -he could easily add some chins/dips to the mix too.

Honestly I would focus on learning perfect form on the big basic lifts. To me, a young athlete should be able to do the following with solid form:

  • Back squat
  • Bench press
  • Power clean & push press
  • Deadlift
  • High pull
  • Chin-ups

The key is learning exercisew mastery and making technique automatic. So for that reason it is best to practice each lift more often (2-3 times a week) with moderate weight. I would stick to sets of 5-6 reps, but using a weight where perfect technique can be used on all reps.