By: Drew Robertson
Youth training, the biggest question is when is to young to train? Well that can depend on multiple factors, injuries for example, as well as what type of training you are considering. Lets say a young athlete has broken his leg, well going into a conditioning program that involves heavy lifting right away doesn’t sound like the best choice to me. I had written an article back in September referring to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and how they recommend staying away from repetitive maximal lifts. They also recommend however that prepubescent youth should integrate strength and resistance training into an overall conditioning program. Now I have had a number of emails like I mentioned about this subject and a lot of concern about the ‘weight lifting’ part of a conditioning program. I understand the concern and my recommendations are to make sure that your young athlete is properly supervised by qualified trainers and that they feel comfortable them selves progressing.
I have clients as young as 12 years old, my first ‘phase’ of training is teaching them how to use a foam roller, due to the fact that most young athletes go through periods of rapid growth and have areas of the body that are or become tight. I have written articles in this magazine about the benefits of Foam rolling and if your interested please email me and I will send you my .PDF about SMR work. Another part of the first phase of training is the Dynamic Warm-up, (again if your interested more in this specifically please email me), the warm-up ensures that every athlete is ready to workout to their maximal potential and with young athletes the warm-up helps them become more aware of how to move properly. The third part of the first phase is Agility ladder work, this helps build co-ordination, and builds proprioception. For examples of different ladder drills guess what?! YES, email me and I will send you an email with various links to videos that describe how to use the agility ladder properly. The forth element in the first phase is core work, and this is very important in my opinion and I spend a lot of time on this area to make sure that all my clients especially the younger ones perform these properly. Using or activating our core properly while lifting, twisting, bending over just about anything can help not just prevent injury but can put us into a better bio-mechanical position to perform whatever activity we are doing. The first ‘core’ exercise I get young clients to work on is the front bridge or front plank. By watching clients closely I determine how long they should perform the exercise, but as a general rule I start between 20 and 30 seconds, with a 30 second rest in between sets, as to how many sets starting off with 2 to 3 sets is what I recommend in order to maintain proper form throughout all the sets. I then progress into the side bridge or side plank, again watching to make sure that the client is able to maintain proper form through out the given amount of time. With core work we are far better to perform the exercises correctly than to try and be ‘tough’ and break form in order to achieve a certain length of time. One of the progressions from the front bridge is a front bridge or plank with a leg raise, now the same criteria applies here, its not about being all tough and holding them for 10 minutes its about performing the exercises right and pushing enough to challenge and progress. Here’s a sample basic core workout for youth, remember as I discussed above though if your unable to maintain form back off on the time.
1) Front bridge
- Hold – 30 seconds
- Rest – 30 seconds
- Complete 3-4 rounds
2) Side bridge
- Hold – 20-30 seconds (starting on your non-dominate side)
- No rest between sides
- Rest 30 seconds between rounds
- Complete 3-4 rounds
Complete the above 3-4 times a week taking a day off in between
After doing that program for a month change out the front bridge holds for the front bridge holds with leg raise and break the 30 seconds into 15 seconds per side.
In the next article I will go over phase two of young athlete training and give you some further exercise descriptions and simple program layouts to give you an idea of how to integrate the different aspects of training into an over all program. The pictures feature young Blake Priest who races the 85cc 12-16 and supermini classes and is the latest addition to the Evolved family of athletes!!
“I’ll show you how great I am”