The Basics of a Beginning Strength Training Program

by | June 9, 2016, 7:30am 0

Several coaches I’ve been talking with over the past few weeks have told me that they’d like their athletes to put more effort into offseason strength training. A big challenge these coaches face is that many of their athletes have no idea where to start when they enter the weight room.

I always tell my athletes that getting started and being consistent are more important than trying to be perfect and not doing anything. So with that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you and the ones you love get started doing something in the weight room. This is not a perfect program. But it is a place to start.

First step – Learn the basic moves
My first recommendation is to book a clinic or some personal training sessions with a strength and conditioning coach or even a personal trainer. Have a professional teach you good form on these six exercises: lunge, squat, deadlift, bench press, pushup, pull up. I’d recommend three sessions to get some practice with someone really looking at your form.

Creating a balanced program
A balanced program means that you’re not training the front of your body more than the back or the upper part of your body more than the lower. To create a balanced program it can be helpful to organize exercises into basic categories and choose 1-2 exercises from each for a balanced workout.

4 Parts – knee, hip, push, pull

Knee Dominant:
Anything that looks like a squat or a lunge.
Goblet Squat
Front foot elevated split squat
Backward lunge
Front Squat

Hip dominant:
Anything that looks like a deadlift or a hip thrust.
Single leg deadlift (SLDL)
Single leg elevated hip lift
Weighted hip thrusts

Anything that looks like a bench press or a pushup
Flat barbell bench
Feet elevated pushup
Incline alternating dumbbell bench

Anything that looks like a pull up or a row
Semisupinated grip chin up
Inverse Row
Dumbbell Row

Putting the workout together
Stage 1: Choose one exercise from each category. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps twice per week for a full body balanced workout.

Stage 2: When you’re ready for more, you might consider splitting your days into upper and lower days or push and pull days. These are two common splits and there are pros and cons of either.

Splitting up your workouts allows you to add more volume to your training.

An example of a lower body workout:
Back squat
Front foot elevated split squat
Foot elevated hip lift

In this example there are two hip-dominant and two knee-dominant exercises. One bilateral and one single leg for each. 6-8 Repetition Maximum (RM).

An example of an upper body workout:
Feet elevated pushups
Wide grip assisted pullups
One arm incline dumbbell bench
Dumbbell rows
Again we have a balance between pushing and pulling exercises. I’ve also chosen some bilateral work and some single limb work that engages the core as well as the upper body.

An example of an upper and lower split schedule:
Monday: upper
Tuesday: lower
Wednesday: off
Thursday: upper
Friday: lower

Or for three days a week:
Monday: upper
Tuesday: lower
Wed: off
Thursday: full body
Friday: off

This is a good schedule for when you have tournaments on the weekends and want to avoid too much fatigue in the legs.

Example of an upper body workout:
2 pushes, 2 pulls. Work different angles. One single limb, one double limb.

Example of a lower body split:
2 hip dominant (one more glutes, one more hamstrings), two knee dominant. One single leg, one double leg.

Get started with an 8-10 RM range. Work on endurance by keeping rest to 60 seconds between exercises.

Note: I didn’t include core work in this article. But you can look here for some ideas. Core work can be done after your lifting sessions. Five minutes of some sort of core training is a good place to start.

If you like the idea of a balanced strength training program but don’t want to build it yourself, you can check out my program, 12 Weeks to Game Time that tells you exactly what to do five days a week. It includes strength training, speed and agility work, and conditioning.

Today is the last day to get some extras to go along with my program. Anyone who purchases by the end of they day today will also get a 5 page e-book about nutrition for athletes and a video training by mental toughness coach Anna Rogacki about goal setting. It’s everything you need to make your next season of ultimate awesome.

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