By Tim Crowley
Tim Crowley, CSCS, PES, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Montverde (Fla.) Academy. He holds elite coaching licenses with USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, and he has been named Development Coach of the Year and Elite Coach of the Year by the latter organization. He is also the owner of TC2 Coaching, LLC.
Many young athletes, especially males, have a bodybuilding mentality when it comes to weight training, focusing solely on muscle size and hypertrophy. Not only can this approach lead to injuries, but it can decrease their speed, power, explosiveness, and mobility, as well. Since these traits are important for any collegiate athlete to have, this mindset isn’t ideal.
Instead, we reinforce that strength training goes beyond pumping iron. Creating good weightroom habits in high school athletes will pay off in the years to come.
To maximize our athletes’ chances of making an impact in college, we focus on developing total athleticism in the weightroom. Specifically, we target movement skills, proper lifting skills, core stability, muscle balance, and Olympic lifting techniques.
For movement and lifting skills, we teach athletes to be “brilliant at the basics.” Included in this are fundamental movement patterns, such as squatting, hinging, pressing, pulling, and rotating.
Every exercise we choose for these movement patterns is thought out in terms of skill progression and risk-benefit. Our goal is to use efficient exercises that have a low risk of injury. For instance, we rarely bench press, since it is time-consuming, and athletes can get more benefit out of chest pressing with dumbbells, cables, or TRX. We also clean and snatch from a hang position. This exercise is very productive for power development but doesn’t have the increased risk of pulling from the floor.
Below are some of our favorite exercises for each fundamental movement pattern we focus on:
- Horizontal pushing: Dumbbell chest presses, one-arm dumbbell chest presses, standing cable one-arm presses, TRX chest presses, and push-up combinations
- Vertical pushing: Barbell push presses; push jerks; split jerks; and one-arm overhead pressing dumbbell, cable, and kettlebell
- Vertical pulling: Pull-ups, chin-ups, band-assisted pull-ups, and one-arm vertical cable rows from plank position
- Horizontal pulling: TRX inverted rows, one-arm cable rows, face pulls
- Squat: Front squats, goblet squats, hex bar squats, rear foot elevated split-squats, TRX one-leg squats, and sideboard with squat
- Ham-glute hinge: Kettlebell swings, hex bar dead lifts, barbell dead lifts, and single-leg dead lifts (bar, dumbbell, kettlebell, and cable)
- Core: Cable lift/chop/anti-rotational presses (progressing from kneeling to half-kneel to standing), kettlebell quarter get-ups, TRX knee-to-chest/body saws, and medicine ball throws
- Power development: Olympic lifting progression and transitional exercises, box jumps, and hurdle hops.