Teen sports have become ever more competitive the world over. Professionalism in sports has given the less academic student a goal that he or she can train towards in order to give themselves a lucrative career.
However, in the USA, all teen athletes are in an increasingly competitive mode, as Universities and colleges grant the best athletes scholarships to attend, which as we all know for some, can be the difference between getting an education and not. In Europe however, this differs since third level education is free for all citizens of the EU.
Gaining the competitive edge on your fellow athlete means you have to train harder, eat better and rest more efficiently than your competitors. As a teen your body is still growing and can adapt rapidly to the changes that occur with the onset of puberty. These changes occur at differing rates from one individual to the next.
To maintain or even gain that competitive edge, there is no better time than adolescence to begin a good strength training program. During the teenage years is when most athletes decide to pick up the dumbbells for the first time. Making the decision to begin a strength training program is the first step towards athletic success; deciding on the correct type of training is the next.
For years I have watched young athletes come to the gym and go through the motions of a training program that they saw in a magazine or heard about from a friend who heard it from a friend, who got it from his cousin twice removed, whose brother's, sister's mother's ex boyfriend gave them, and he knew a guy who competed once in a bodybuilding contest.
To yield the full efficacy of a strength training program, take an analytical view of your chosen sport, decide what components of fitness are required and then decide your approach to your strength training.
So let us take a look at some of the big varsity sports in the USA: football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse to name but a few. The majority of these games require speed, agility, strength and stamina, all of which will increase with a well designed strength training program.
So, to maximize your time in the weights room, make your training as efficient as possible, choose compound exercises. Compound exercises are those exercises which require more than a single joint movement.
These exercises include: squats, bench press, deadlifts, high pulls, power cleans, snatches, etc. Coincidentally, most of these exercises are the backbone of every strength and conditioning program regardless of the sport.
Your strength training program should be performed 3 days per week, ideally on days that do not interfere with either your main sport or your academic studies. Below I have outlined an ideal strength training plan that can fit nicely into any sport.
Strength Training Program
- Power Cleans: 4 sets 6-8 Reps
- Bench Press: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
- Barbell Curls: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
- Dumbbell Curls: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
- High Pulls: 4 sets 6-8 Reps
- Squats: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
- Deadlifts: 4 sets 6-8 Reps
- Snatch: 4 sets 6-8 Reps
- Military Press: 4 sets 6-8 Reps
- Triceps Push-downs: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
- Skullcrushers: 4 sets 8-10 Reps
Choosing Your Weight
To choose the poundage's for each exercise, remember that your 1RM (1 Rep Max) is 100%. 2 reps = 97.5% 3 reps = 95% and so on.
However doing a 1RM when you are new to strength training can be quiet dangerous, I recommend that you gauge the weight by how much effort it takes to perform your required rep range.
If you are aiming for 6 reps, and you could easily get the 6th and maybe even another few, the weight is too light. Alternatively, if you are aiming for 6 reps and fail after the 4th, the weight is too heavy. I also recommend the use of a trainer to learn the techniques, these compound movements, can lead to injury if not performed correctly, and nobody wants that.
You will notice that I have also included some exercise for developing the arms, some like to call these beach weights, others like to call it doing a little work for the ladies.
Don't get me wrong, impressing the ladies with a great physique is all well and good, but these exercises actually have a purpose in the overall grand scheme of things, they are what are known as, assistance exercises, making the biceps and triceps stronger will allow you to stabilize the weight more when performing most exercises, and therefore minimize the risk of injury, while also maximizing your gains.
So now that you are armed with the tools, it's your time to become the best varsity athlete you can be, there is a university application out there with your name on it! Train hard my young apprentice's, and may the force be with you.