Strength Performance Network

Hello everyone. I've been trying to come up with a lifting program that can help me develop my high school lifters, particularly the younger ones, on some critical lifts: squat, bench press, and clean. My thought was to develop a set of standards for each lift that would allow the athlete to develop the necessary technique before moving on to the next level.

For example, (and I'm just pulling out a number of reps) a player would do 25 perfect bodyweight squats before advancing to 25 perfect bodyweight squats on the balance board. From the balance board to an overhead squat, etc. Essentially, I want the athlete to perfect one technique, as judged by a coach, before moving on to something more complicated/heavier. I think this will allow for each player to move at an individual pace and allow us as coaches to have "evidence" for why a freshmen isn't back squatting like a senior is.

Does anyone have anything or know of anything along these lines so I don't have to reinvent the wheel? I'll take any advice or suggestions you guys have. Thanks!

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I completely agree with you with the bodyweight movements.  I believe the kids should have to be able to control their own bodies effectively before an external load be placed on them.  I don't like the balance board idea too much.  I think you need to target larger muscle groups.  When you are on a balance board or doing balance work in general the focus is mainly small stability muscles.  I think balance work is a great supplementary exercise, but not put in the progression you are talking about.  Now with larger (obese) athletes like linemen, they wont be able to do pushups/pullups/correct squats typically.  To me leaning them out is the most important for their health and for them to have any benefit towards your team.  If I was writing your program, if you could work with the middle schoolers have them on a 3 year body weight training regime, so then freshman year they can back squat.  If not I think the entire freshman year should be all calisthenics work.  And there is a ton of calisthenics exercises and progression/regressions

Here is the progression i use with my athletes.  I picked up the wall squat from Robert Taylor Smarter Team Training and the Hands Free squat from Mike Boyle.  You can add the BW squat to be 1st on this progression if you like.  You can also add a DB front squat or KB goblet squat as well.  But i agree, ditch the balance board.  

Squat Progression: 

  1. Wall OH PVC Squat 8 to full depth 
  2. Wall OH 25lbs BB Squat 8 to full depth 
  3. Wall OH 45lbs BB Squat 8 to full depth (optional for younger athletes if they dont have the shoulder stability) 
  4. Hands Free BB Front Squat 8 to full depth 
  5. BB Rack (Anderson) Squat 8 to full depth 
  6. BB Squat x 8
  7. BB Squat 65lbs x 8
  8. etc...
Very important - be very strict about your criteria to "graduate" to the next step to ensure growth and credibility.  Otherwise kids will start skipping steps and it will just break down.  Make the BB Squat a privilege.

I do a progression very similar,but I use a box to help.  It not only helps the kid learn the depth, but technique as well.

Coach, You should take the time to reach out to Coach Cash at Dorman HS in SC. He has great direction and a plan for his program. Super great guy that will spend time with you if you take the time to reach out. I was lucky enough to visit him and really pick his brain about topics that I felt like I needed help with. 

So do some leg work and look him up, it will be worth it. 

Good luck, and stay the course!!

Adam Jaimez 

Swain Co. HS


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