The How, Why & When Youth & High School Athletes CAN Train HARD



Decades ago, young children worked on farms sun rise until sun down.

There were NO worries of "over training".

The Amish children begin manual labor from a very young age as well. They grow up strong and capable both physically and mentally because of the hard work.

Sure, someone out there will complain and talk about an adult from the Amish or somewhere else who worked very hard and it hurt them, etc. but people must STOP looking for excuses and start finding REASONS to inspire the dedication and the hard work.

That's why I love movies like McFarland, USA which was based on a true story. Those kids would work on the farm before going to school, they would run to school in the morning, run home after school, work on the farm again and then AFTER the sun went down, it was finally time to train.

Greatness NEVER happens when you do "normal" things.

It STARTS in the mind......

If Mom & Dad keep planting seeds of worry and doubt into little Johnny's brain, then little Johnny is going to create excuses for the hard work.

He will grow up scared and that fear of hard work will continue into his adult life.

Hard Training is FINE when it is combined with:

  • Science with smart / safe training methods and techniques


  • Proper Lifestyle with sleep, nutrition, social life

"Hard Training" is a very general term so in the wrong hands, with a bad coach, with bad lifestyle choices..... It leads to NO results, injuries, detraining of the athlete and an overall negative cascading effect on performance physically & mentally. 

SMART Training does the opposite, it will BUILD the athlete UP physically and mentally, leading to greater performance in sports and in other areas of life.

On the surface, our training looks hard, BUT, our athletes can handle it because they've been safely built UP to the training and their lifestyle (nutrition, sleep, etc) supports the training.

Look at the training from the 1960s at LaSierra High School when President Kennedy encourage being strong, fit, competitive & tough!

This Video demonstrates difficult training as it should be!

Today, this does NOT happen in Physical Education as we ALL know. This is also a BIG reason why the majority of the youth of today are NOT Strong, Fit & Confident.

As a parent myself, sometimes I too catch myself worrying or making silly excuses that maybe this or that is too hard for my kids.

Then, I bring myself to reality and realize it's NOT hard.

HARD is if my kids actually WERE working on the Farm everyday for several hours a day but 6-7 hours a day our kids sit in school.

High School Physical Education is NOT very physical anymore. Athletes can AND should be more active than merely going to 2 or 3 strength & conditioning sessions a week. 

That's only 2 or 3 hours of activity! 


I will keep working hard to educate the world on helping our younger generation to become STRONG in Mind, Body & LIFE.

The Underground Strength Gym exists to help athletes transform themselves both in sports AND LIFE!

Drop your comments below.

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15 Responses

  1. The PARENTS of today are the problem. Quick to publicly rebuke hard work as unnecessary “punishment”, while privately lamenting how lazy & undisciplined little Jimmy is.

    The answer lies somewhere between raising their kids FOR them, and crotch-kicking them back to reality…

    1. Yes, there are parents who support the work, others who fear it and likely those who fear it grew up coddled themselves.

      The more Spartan like we can live, the better it is for ALL of us.

      As a parent myself, even I get worried SOMETIMES until I realize my kids aren’t working 12 hr days.

  2. George Delcambre III says:

    Great article. How do we take back the gym classes in all schools , and grades to give kids this balance back, to help them to be productive, and help build good self esteem. Thanks for using your gift, and making a difference.

  3. One of the biggest says I have seen is be the example you want them imitate. Youth look up to their older siblings. If they you doing it they will imitate it. This is something I have definitely seen and is driven by your daily posts and the fact my son loves the gym and exercising and is he is only 5 years old! Keep it going Zach, you da man!

    1. TRUTH! My kids think hard work, training in a garage, riding bikes, sprinting in the street, etc is NORMAL!!

      The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

  4. Dustin Maynard says:

    Zach! My man!

    I hear you. The older I get—sometimes I catch myself “worrying” about “if I did this–would it be too much? Could I keep up with work too?” Then I wake up and say “knock it off!” Just do the damn thing. Eat and sleep. Tough work builds tough men.

    As fr kids–we gotta start them young! I was a FAT kid growing up. Never did me any good physically, mentally, or emotionally. I will not allow that to happen to my kid. First—I want to be a role model! My wife and I workout daily and we hope to inspire our daughter to do the same. When she gets a little older, I will enroll her in gymnastics. Try to keep her active, and keep it fun.. And they should most definitely bring back PE classes!!!!

    1. PE classes even when NOT being cut they are NOT challenging.

      Often times NOT empowering or educating the kids.

      So we need to implement higher standards.

      The teachers who Do, YOU are AWESOME!!!

      It’s gonna take Parents, Teachers / Schools / Administrators and EVERYONE to work together to make it better for the youth!

  5. Zach, that is 100% on target!
    I used to train many teens and kids back in my maryial arts years.
    Back then the parents wanted them to learn about discipline and hard work.
    They were very supportive of me and my hard trsining methods.
    Times sure have changed!
    I don’t train any kids or teens now, Itefuse to work with cry babies, that gies for cry baby adults too.

  6. Zach, that is 100% on target!
    I used to train many teens and kids back in my maryial arts years.
    Back then the parents wanted them to learn about discipline and hard work.
    They were very supportive of me and my hard trsining methods.
    Times sure have changed!
    I don’t train any kids or teens now, Itefuse to work with cry babies, that gies for cry baby adults too.

  7. Jason Woods says:

    As a youth myself I would say that burpees and or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Repeated consistently is the key to that. It all comes back to getting comfortable being uncomfortable or could it be getting uncomfortable being comfortable? I think it comes to what is your biggest weakness, finding that then working to improve that because when you fix the biggest issue everything else feels eaiser to accomplish and naturally you develop confidence by doing this.

    1. Jason it CAN be very simple, true.

      Every day the kids have PE or do something physical that challenges them, in turn building mental / life strength.

  8. Zach this may be your best post ever. When I get home I’ll be sharing it on my FB.
    Keep fighting the good fight!
    I/we got your back!

  9. Great post Zach. Unfortunately you know the education system here in NJ. We are making everything easier for our kids; classes being watered down, extending deadlines on assignments, PE OPT OUT, lazy, older teachers, etc. Remember we (NJ) are one of 2-3 states with mandatory PE K-12 The NJEA is pushing more STEM (science, tech, math) and and removing other necessary classes such as music, art, shop, auto, etc. A way to take back PE would be to present this type of information at the Athletic Directors and NJAPHERD Convention. I know I’m preaching to the choir and there are quality programs out there but the pussification, oh sorry that’s not PC, how about wussification, nope can’t say that either, softening of our youth..oops sorry I might get an HIB filed against me. Oh f-it, let’s go train hard and kick ass! If anyone makes it this far, re-read Zach’s t-nation article “Old School Training” it will get you fired up!


    1. Rob, so GREAT to hear from you!

      Yes, I know on ALL fronts.

      When I taught at Elementary school, we had 3 x week PE.

      It was cut down to 2 x week for extra Spanish class I believe and a few PE Teachers who did not have tenure were let go.

      I have NO clue who comes up with these crazy ideas.

      More and More I come across parents home schooling their kids bc their tired of the BS and their child can NOT sit in a chair 6-7 hrs a day.

      We’ve got a battle happening w/ parents bc if their son isn’t a Champion they blame the coach.

      Thus, scaring coaches & administrators into accepting mediocrity so they don’t deal w/ the headaches.

      People always say “this generation” when it’s the Parents.

      Parents MUST LEAD from within the home.

      Keep crushing it, Rob!!!

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