Most athletes that roll through VSP are between the ages of 12 and 16, most of who never worked out before. Each one of them present with different movement patterns, play different sports, and overall, are just different kids. With that said, they all have one thing in common; they all need a true first block of training.
No athlete is ready to just jump right into a true strength, power, or whatever program until they are competent in 6 areas I believe are important.
The first training block, I call “Chalkboard” is a time to teach the athlete all of the “X’s and O’s” of working out. Without it, the health of the athlete and future progress of the athlete is put at risk. Starting here does not mean they are not an elite athlete. However they need to go through this to build the foundation for a long, successful strength training journey to help their athletic ability.
In no particular order, I outlined 6 aspects of training in your first block.
Most should understand that a person cannot just start performing hang cleans or back squats if they don’t even know how to descend into a squat.
Developing proper movement patterns is a crucial part of the first block. Here is where all of the “boring” exercises set one up for the advanced “fun” exercises.
For example, an athlete may need to work on balancing on one leg before performing a split squat. Another could be performing scapular retractions with a band before moving to dumbbell rows.
Each athlete should take their time and be patient with the process. Every athlete is unique and needs different exercises in order to develop the desired movement patterns.
If an athlete jumps right into back squats without progressing properly, they run the risk of becoming very sore or may even hurt themselves.
Preparing the body is extremely important. That’s why foundational strength is on this list as well. Generally, going from a goblet squat to back squat, opposed to going straight to back squats, is a better progression so the body can acclimate to external loads.
This is everything in the weight room. When I say this, I am also referring to effort.
If an athlete is lazy, careless, and not paying attention they will not get what they want out of the program. Every rep, of every set, of every exercise, the athlete needs to be dialed in.
When athletes see other athletes who have been working out longer perform advanced movements, they get excited and want to do those. Dangling those exercises in front of the athlete can always be helpful to motivate them to get through the the beginner movements to get to the more advanced ones.
Move with a purpose.
Not saying to rush through sets and rest, but there is no reason to spend 5 minutes resting after a set of dead bugs.
Keep a solid pace, that is under control.
This piggybacks the foundation strength point, but bracing is vital when using external loads. If an athlete fails to brace, they will not be as strong in the movement and could potentially hurt themselves.
Understand what proper bracing is. Depending on exercise, one should be able to breathe well during movement, tense abs/glutes, and stay neutral through entire movement.
This simple one, but often not done.
A few examples…
- Clean up weights
- Respect those around them training
- Speak with respect (no foul language, bullying, etc.)
- Write weights in
There are plenty more, but those are just a few. Overall be a good person in the weightroom – plain and simple.
Follow these 6 aspects of a first training block and it should set an athlete up for success in their strength and conditioning career. This can have a big impact on one’s athletic career, why not take advantage of it?
Feel free to make a comment below or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!