T Nation

Recommendations for Building Strength for Teens

Short and sweet question: CT - How would you focus on building strength for the teenage lifter who isn’t just starting out and wants to train frequently because it’s FUN?

CT - I love training. I’ve been experimenting with all types of different methods. Many of which are yours. But recently, I’m just not sure exactly what to do. I’m 16 years old, and have been training for about a year and a half. I’m sure everyone has experienced this at some point in time, but I, like well… most men, am going for that “power look” but am also wanting to BE powerful, healthy, and stable. Currently, I’m about 150lbs at 5 ft 8. I’ve gained 15lbs since June and have maintained a general leanness threshold without trying too hard (pays to be young, I know).

I think that now, I just want to focus on building strength. But I’ve come to a crossroads:
Pretty much every other resource besides yours (in regards to building strength) say that you only need 3 workouts a week. Push/Pull/Legs, Squat/Bench/Deadlift, 3 Full Bodys/ etc. But I’m… addicted to training. It’s actually FUN to me and not at all feels like a chore.
As I continue to research, I keep stumbling on your methods that recommend training with a high-frequency. And I LOVE training every day. Doing something. I want to build strength while training at a high-frequency.

I tried a plain ole bodybuilding standard split in the summer. Rows/Pulldowns Monday, Squats Tuesday, Chest Thursday, Deadlifts on friday.

I did something similar to the 6-6-6 sprints program written about here (http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_6week_sprinting_solution&cr=) around when school started in late August… First thing in the morning, fasted, having only water, I sprinted past 4 houses on my street, 6 times, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. Other training in the afternoon included some Olympic lifting and technique work on other lifts. Because of the business of being in marching band, an AP student, and practicing my sax in general at the beginning of the school year, I got lazy and didn’t do exactly what the 6-6-6 program said. Shoot me.

I tried your split for the original Look Like a Bodybuilder, Perform Like an Athlete article (http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/look_like_a_bodybuilder_perform_like_an_athlete).
I really enjoyed it, but felt toast after every leg workout. If I’m being honest, I didn’t follow a lot of your written methodology going into the program during my actually workouts itself. 3-4 sets every pressing workout were obviously grinding sets. The Neural Charge workouts (which I know I will continue to implement for a long time because of the way they make me feel) were the only ones that felt like I was performing true “rocket-launch” reps.

After about 8 weeks, I was BURNT. Took a few days off and I tried the Indigo Project Hypertrophy Phase (http://www.T-Nation.com/img/photos/Hyper-1-1.pdf). Felt burnt out after 2 weeks because of a combination of a tremendous amount of isolation work, set-up, and time needed. ALL of my workouts took about 70 minutes.

After going back and doing plenty of research, I experimented over the course of the week with some new methods that I learned about. If you don’t want to read through all of my details, I wouldn’t blame you, but here’s the GIST: My new favorite approach is a layer system following these guidelines…
Part 1 - Activation
Part 2 - Max Ramp w/ Singles (The Heavy Segment)
Part 3 - Density Work (The Volume Segment)7 min timed - As many singles as possible with 85% of 1RM for the day
Part 4 - Loaded Carries or Prowler Work
Part 5 - Any needed isolation work for either balance and stability or aesthetics.

Here’s what I did:
Saturday: Push Press
After an overhead activation movement (a pillow I thrust upward as explosively as possible because I lack a medicine ball), here’s what my workout was:
PP:
45lbs - 1 set of 6
75lbs - 1x3
85lbs - 1x3
95lbs - 1x3
100lbs - 1x1, 1x2, 1x3 (Wave Ladder Approach your wrote about recently)
105lbs - 1x1, 1x2, 1x3
110lbs - 1x1, 1x2, 1x3
115lbs - 1x1

Set 8 min timer
95lbs - 30 total reps

Part 3 - Overhead Snatch Carry
55lbs - 3 sets of about a minute

Sunday: Snatch-Grip High Pull - Experimented with a different type of layer system
Ramp to Max Layer
45lbs - 1x3
55lbs - 1x3
65lbs - 1x3
75lbs - 1x1
85lbs - 1x1
95lbs - 1x1
105lbs - 1x1
115lbs - 1x1
125lbs - 1x1
135lbs - 1x1
140lbs - 1x1
Cluster Layer
105ls - 2 cluster sets of 5, 1 of 6
HDL Layer
85lbs - 3 sets of the 5,4,3,2,1

Monday: Bottom-Up Back Squats from Pins
Part 1 - Activation
Violent Jump Squats
65lbs - 3 sets of 3
Part 2 - Thib’s Wave Ladder
Bottom-Up Back Squats from Pins
45lbs - 1x6
165lbs - 1x3
175lbs
185lbs
195lbs
205lbs
215lbs
Part 3 - Density Work
8 min timed 185lbs - 23 total reps
Part 4 - Tire Sled Pulls done loaded carry style (Substitute for Prowler I built found here http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/build_your_own_sled)
50lbs in tire - 3 sets of forward walking, 1 set of backward walking for 1 min each set.
Part 5 - Isolation Work
Lying Leg Curls
45lbs - 1x10
25lbs - 2x10

Tuesday: Bench Press (Going to try slight decline next workout)
After plyo-push up activation…
Experimented with the “Build Muscle with Heavy Singles” found here: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/build-muscle-with-heavy-singles
Part 2 - Heavy Segment
45lbs - 1x6
85lbs - 1x3
95lbs - 1x3
105lbs - 1x1
115lbs - 1x1
125lbs - 1x1
135lbs - 1x1
145lbs - 1x1
150lbs - 1x1
155lbs - 1x1
160lbs - 1x1
165lbs - 1x1 - This was definitely a new record. I did this by myself in my back yard with almost no prior hype up to the lift.
Part 3 - The Volume/Density Segment
135lbs - 15 total singles done in 7 minutes
Part 4 - Bear Hug Carries
45lbs plate - 3 sets of 1 min
Part 5 - Isolation Work
Squeeze Press
30lbs each - 3 sets of 10
“Full” Lateral Raises
10lbs each - 3 sets of 10

Wednesday - SGHP - Continued with the Build Muscle w/ Heavy Singles
Part 1 - Snatch Jump/Power Clean and Push Press Activation - 2 sets of 3 each
Part 2 - Max Ramp
45lbs - 1x6
55lbs - 1x3
65lbs - 1x3
75lbs - 1x1
85lbs - 1x1
95lbs - 1x1
105lbs - 1x1
115lbs - 1x1
125lbs - 1x1
135lbs - 1x1
Part 3 - The Volume/Density Segment
105lbs - 16 total singles done in 7 minutes
Part 4 - Overhead Snatch Carry (by FAR my favorite)
55lbs - 2 sets of 1 min
Part 5 - Rear Delt Flies
10lbs each - 1x10
5lbs each - 1x25

Thursday: Sumo Deadlifts (Had never done them and wanted to try)
Part 1 - Activation
Jump Squat/Power Clean
2x3 each
Part 2 - Max Ramp, done without straps or a belt
45lbs - 1x6
135lbs - 1x3
155lbs - 1x3
185lbs - 1x3
205lbs - 1x1
215lbs - 1x1
225lbs - 1x1
235lbs - 1x1
245lbs - 1x1
255lbs - 1x1
265lbs - 1x1
275lbs - 1x1
285lbs - 1x1
295lbs - 1x1 This was the last rep that felt easy.
305lbs - 1x1
315lbs - 1x1
325lbs - 1x1 - This was 10lbs heavier than my conventional pull record in the summer with a belt… Considering first time doing sumos, I was proud.
Part 3 - The Volume/Density Segment
275lbs - 9 total singles done in 7 minutes
Part 4 - Tire Sled Pulls done loaded carry style
50lbs in tire - 3 sets of backward walking, 1 set of forward walking for 1 min each set.
Part 5 - Lying Leg Curls
50lbs - 4 sets of 5
25lbs - 1 set of 20

Friday: Neural Charge Workout - DB Snatches, Horizontal Pillow throws, vertical and frog jumps

Saturday (Today): Low Incline Bench Press - So far, Thib’s Build Muscle with heavy singles has been a TON OF FUN and has been improving my focus tremendously. If you’ve read this far, thank you. You can probably tell that I mixed in the layer system with the heavy single system with the loaded carry style work… I love it.

Part 1 - Activation - Vertical Jump Resets, Incline Plyo-Push Ups
Part 2 - Max ramp
45lbs - 1x6
75lbs - 1x3
85lbs - 1x3
95lbs - 1x3
105lbs - 1x1
115lbs - 1x1
125lbs - 1x1
135lbs - 1x1
145lbs - 1x1
150lbs - 1x1
155lbs - 1x1
140lbs - 1x1
Part 3 - The Volume/Density Segment
130lbs - 11 total singles done in 7 minutes
Part 4 - Overhead Snatch Carry (I’m fully aware that Bear Hug Carries were recommended on “Chest” days but I really, really love this carry and just need MORE)
55lbs - 3 sets of 1 min
Part 5 - Isolation Work (NONE of the isolation work is at all maximal in anyway… Just working on mind muscle connection along with some aesthetically lagging areas and areas that NEED work for stability… cough cough lateral/rear delts)
DB Power Flies
25lbs each - 3 sets of 12
DB Lateral Raises
15lbs each - 2 sets of 8
10lbs each - 2 sets of 12

Is it immature and irresponsible of me to continue to “program hop”? Maybe. But in my opinion, there is no reason to restrict yourself in any regard to any one method of doing things. ENJOY the journey.

So here I am 45 minutes later after entering all that training info from my training journal and back to my original question:

CT - How would you focus on building strength for the teenage lifter who isn’t just starting out and wants to train frequently because it’s FUN?

Thank you to ANYBODY who has made it this far. I would really appreciate anyone’s thoughts, recommendations, etc. Keep on training!

Does anybody have any recommendations on what to do when your main goal is to build strength? Any help would GREATLY be appreciated. The only thing is that I’m 16, but I’ve been training for about a year and half and I think I’m past the “newbie gains” stage, and that I love to train everyday.

heres a few links related to more strength orientated layer programmes:

http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/quadruple_strength_layers?id=5780879&pageNo=1

Bare in mind that really all of the layer programmes focus on improving performance and strength. Some are just slightly geared more towards hypertrophy/strength than others but all of them are going to bring strength gains