In mid June in NJ the Governor granted permission for "gyms" to train outdoors. I always say, The Underground Strength Gym is a Private club, but the government and governor don't really understand this.
When mid June came around, I knew that I would have to start at 50 or 60%. The plan was to add 10% of work / intensity each week so that by the 4th week, we would be almost at "normal". Which nowadays, I really do not enjoy that word, "normal".
With 3 months of training athletes since mid June, and now coaching athletes at a high school who many did NOT have any training under their belt, I want to share a few tips to help Coaches / Parents rebuild these athletes at the high school / college level.
Since seeing student athletes return, I've seen a lot of changes both physically and mentally / emotionally.
Here are factors to consider:
- Loss of Strength
- Loss of Size
- Weight Loss
- Some athletes have become "skinny fat". They have lost muscle AND added body fat. This includes high school seniors.
- Loss of Work Capacity
- Loss of Grit as they have not engaged in strenuous activity for 3 - 6 months. The longer they have been living a lifestyle of comfort and ease, the longer it takes to transform them back into highly competitive athletes who are agile, mobile and hostile.
Many will be shocked to know this but this will also be happening at the college level, including the D1 level. Many kids today do not train or do the work unless told exactly what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc.
Simple Tips to get athletes back in action:
If you're working with athletes at the HS and / or college level and it's first time returning, a few simple points:
1) Moderate intensity the first week. Next week another 10%, then another the following week. In high school, the Fall sport athletes have only 2 weeks of practice before game day. That still means, don't rush it. You want consistent progress. NEVER listen to the BS of "in season maintenance". You want to get stronger & better in season. Period.
2) Encourage Calisthenics at Home DAILY. Can Herschel Walker be wrong? Squats, Lunges, Push Ups, Pull Ups, Abs, etc.
3) 3 meals by 3 PM, 5 meals by the end of night. If you're not eating, you're not growing. Food is fuel for Athletics, Academics and LIFE.
4) Athletes have LOST muscle during this time away. Familiarize yourself with some 3 x 5 and eventually 5 x 5, it's a GREAT blend of developing strength & size. Athletes are going to need to add muscle. The calisthenics are great for rep work as is dumbbell and kettlebell training.
5) Get those Legs going. DB or KB Squats & Lunges + Sprints. Before you hit the back squats, get the athletes reorganized with technique and strengthen up their trunk. Many athletes will not be ready for spinal loading out of the gate.
In addition, many athletes don't have a squat rack at home. Hence, their own training has been a LOT of chest & biceps beach training. Sports performance is legs and back.
Chest & Biceps = Party up Front
Legs & Back = Business in the Back
6) Moderate intensity for Sprints, each week add 10%. Start with tempo runs. If you have a hill, use the hill. Do NOT sprint directly off the whistle. Instead, start with some skips, shuffles or even a walk. Next whistle, tempo run.
If the athlete is running IN practice, don't add more running to your training. They are not ready for the volume of running early in the stage.
7) Get them to BELIEVE in themselves through doing the WORK. Athletes build confidence through preparation. That being said, do NOT destroy them with crazy, stupid workouts. That will destroy their confidence. Always finish with energy in the tank so they want to come back for more.
8) Athletes LOVE Arm Work. Get those Pipes Pumping! Because they love arm work, include arm work often. They will actually buy in and believe in the training.
9) Above ALL else, just train the kids as if they were your own. Give them the best you've got. If these were your own kids, how would you train them? How you speak to them about life, not just sports?