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Strength Train Early & Often

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

It was great having Robert Mathis, Nick Hardwick and Daniel Muir at Genesis the other night. Great turnout! Guys and Gals, it’s the off-season! That means get off of your butt and get to work! Come see us, let’s get you bigger, stronger and more explosive for next season! It starts now! I can’t tell you how many athletes come in just before the start of the season and expect big results. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! It’s a process, it takes time. Why do you think Collegiate and Pro athletes’ workout year-round?

Yes, even during the season. Being in this industry for over 13 years now we see a ton of mistakes made by parents and athletes alike.

 Not starting at a young age  Sport specific training without proper body strength and stability  Speed and Agility training without strength training  Parents training kids at home  High School kids training on their own  Not strength training year-round

As you can see there are a lot of them. Here is one of the biggest mistakes we see way too often, and it’s driven by an old wives’ tale. Youngsters waiting until High School to strength train. Parents, your kids are falling way behind. Your young athletes are way more susceptible to injury playing a sport then they are strength training. Here is a fact for you. When your son/daughter land on one leg after a layup in basketball they are loading that one leg with roughly 3x their bodyweight and it certainly isn’t under a controlled manner. Think about that. If they haven’t strength trained, which means they most likely don’t have adequate ankle, knee, hip and core stability, and they land awkwardly their chances of getting injured are much higher than they would be if they were properly strength trained. We start at 10 years old at Genesis with body weight and progress them as their technique allows. If you are still thinking strength training is dangerous for a youngster but willing to let them play sports without it, you have it backwards.

Here’s another one that I personally see way too much. Not only am I a strength coach but I am also a certified hitting instructor and a High School baseball coach. Time after time I see a young boy or girl and yes even at the high school level, I see kids come in and spend big money on hitting lessons, pitching lessons, etc… but they aren’t strong enough or have enough stability to execute the skills being taught. What is happening here?

They simply are not strong enough. They aren’t properly strength trained. All their time and money go to skill training without proper strength and stability, it’s counterproductive.

We get this one a ton. “My son/daughter need to get faster!” Please hear us. Your son/daughter need to get stronger! We realize we may sound a little harsh, but we can’t tell you how many times we have these conversations with parents, but it goes in one ear and out the other. we are usually rebutted by something they read or saw on the internet or heard from a not so experienced trainer. The larger part of speed is this, it’s simply how much force can be produced into the ground to move the body at a higher rate of speed. This is strength folks! You can’t have speed without strength. Of course, technique is involved and the two should be part of any good strength program as it is at Genesis Sports Performance.

We can’t tell you how many times we hear, “oh yeah my kids do speed training with so and so, and they come out of there so tired, it’s great!” I’m sorry to say it’s not great! Speed training should NOT be about how tired one gets. That is called conditioning and is a completely different animal then speed training.

In fact, if you are training with the goal of getting faster and you are not sufficiently recovered to execute every rep at maximum effort you simply won’t force your body to adapt to become faster. You may increase stamina, you may get a slight bit faster, but not near as much as you could be when done correctly. So, reps need to be kept at a minimum and significant rest needs to be taken between reps. Same is true for increasing a vertical jump. Countless reps while exhausted are counterproductive. To reiterate this important point, speed training should be done as part of a strength training program and done at the beginning of very workout when the athlete is the freshest as to perform each speed rep at maximum effort to solicit adaptation and force change.

This next one is a huge problem, and it comes from the right place but often does more harm than good. We know parents have the best of intentions when they take their son/daughters strength training into their own hands. we strongly caution against this. So many times, we get a new athlete in that wants to strength train. They say they know how to squat, bench, etc… “I have a weight rack at home” we hear, but unfortunately most times they mount the bar and hit that first squat and we see a very poor, potentially dangerous movement pattern. Now we have to spend a ton of time retraining a poor movement pattern. It would have taken less time if we taught them from scratch and worse, no telling the unseen damage they have caused to their lower back, knees, shoulders etc… we know what you’re thinking. “Hey Coach, you said strength training wasn’t dangerous”? That is correct. When taught correctly most of the risk is eliminated. This is where starting your son/daughter early can be a huge advantage. We teach all the big movement patterns with body weight and make sure they are executed perfectly before adding an external load to the equation. One other very important note here is that there are all kinds of mobility factors that come into play here that tell us if an athlete is even a candidate for these types of movements. We have athletes that require weeks of mobility work before we can really strength train them. This is why we do a thorough movement screen called a SPARC ASSESSMENT on all of our athletes first so we know exactly how they move and if there are any asymmetries or imbalances that need to be addressed before real training can begin.

The last one we will discuss is simply training year-round. Too many athletes come in to see us 4 to 6 weeks before their season starts and, in some cases, even less. That is great and certainly better than nothing. Yes, you can get stronger in a few weeks but how much? Did you know it usually takes about 3 months to start seeing hypertrophy (muscle growth)? There is a reason Collegiate and Pro teams have their athlete’s strength train year-round and yes during the season too. Here is an analogy for you and then we will put this blog to bed. Let’s say a high school or even a Jr. High football player strength trains for 3 months leading up to their season. They are at the top of their game the first day they show up to practice. As the season wears on, they get beat up, they lose a little strength each week and by the last game of the season or play-offs they are at the weakest they have been all season. Does this make any sense? Of course not. Did you know that just 1 to 2 short workouts a week can help maintain most of the strength they worked so hard to build in that 3 months leading up to the season? Not to mention it helps recovery as well. This is true of all sports not just football.

So, what have we learned here in a nutshell? If you want to give your athlete, the best chance to succeed, maximize their potential, and reach their athletic goals do these things:

1. Get them started early with experienced, certified strength trainers (like the ones at Genesis) that know how to train pre-adolescents and adolescents. Learning good movement patterns and gaining strength and stability at a young age is paramount and will have them ready for the rigors and perils of a High School weight room.

2. Stay away from sport specific training even if you are a one sport athlete. A well-rounded program is what almost all athletes need. Well-rounded programs are still what is being used at the collegiate and pro level if that doesn’t support the latter, I don’t know what does.

3. Sport specific training should be utilized by well-trained athletes as a supplement to their strength program. Be careful not to spend all your time and money on skill training without proper strength, stability and mobility in your arsenal.

4. Take as much time throughout the year to stick to your program as possible. This will result in real gains that will breed a lifetime of superior performance and health results.

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