Build it Up

I can’t stress enough the importance of building a foundation of strength before you progress in your training program and go after the big weights. The other night I was watching YouTube videos of unsupervised AND supervised kids in weight rooms performing heavy lifts with terrible, back breaking form. Awful coaching, incorrect and unsafe spotting, and obviously improper progressions that prepared these kids to work up to that weight. (*Yes, athletes need to train heavy. But keep in mind that they aren’t powerlifters or olympic lifters- they’re athletes. Use the tools from these separate sports to build the athlete.)
Could probably see his spine literally sticking out of his shirt if the camera angle was better…
After seeing all these it made me a littler nervous posting videos of some of our PSTS athletes training heavy. Nobody knows what goes on inside our walls every day unless you’re actually there. I’m not bothered by any outsider’s opinions if it has nothing to do with getting my athletes better. However, I don’t want the perception to be that we load up athletes with big amounts of weight without correct coaching and progressions in place first. That’s ignorant and the exact opposite of what a proper athletic training program is all about. And I know- I’m not in those YouTube video weight rooms every day either but I don’t have to be. I know crappy/unsafe exercises and progressions when I see them- as most decent strength coaches with any sort of vision could. 
Nobody knows that all these guys lifting heavy in our PSTS videos have been training consistently (and seriously) for quite awhile. They can all do push-ups, chin-ups, dips, and they hangout on the glute ham raise and back raise benches for fun in their free time. 🙂 They also hammer proper technique and their weak points, while achieving the mobility to actually be able to safely perform certain exercises- especially squats and deadlifts.
Big Bob is a strength freak for his age (16) but he has been training year-round for 2 years. Even with him, we constantly work to refine his technique. mobility, and athleticism rather than just piling on the weights. 

You not only have to earn the right to go heavy in a sense, but also develop the technical skill and strength foundation for the heavy weights to positively transfer to your athletic development. Why go heavy if you’re not ready? Getting a nagging injury, or worse, doesn’t make you a better athlete- especially if you’re too banged up to train or play. Check your ego at the door and do things right.
Building the foundation is all about constant progress. Many of our new athletes go through 4-6 weeks of just a baseline program that we call Phase 1. Depending on the athlete, this can last as long as it needs to. They can’t move on until they dominate Phase 1. Slowly, new exercise variations are introduced and the intensity of the workout increases slightly. The goal is to build up the body to be able to eventually withstand heavier loads. Keep in mind, you won’t get anywhere fast if you don’t eventually lift heavy weights and get stronger. Remember- “Heavy” is based on the individual. What’s heavy for one person might be light for another. If you don’t ever work up to heavy sets of 1-5 reps you’ll never know where you’re limits are. In case you didn’t already know, we like to go heavy and so does any other athlete/gym that enjoys getting great results. You just have to be smart about it.
I’ve written about building the foundation before but I will always revert back to it as I’m always dealing with young, inexperienced athletes. Getting the abs and upper and lower back strong. Learning and being able to do push-ups, chin-ups, bodyweight rows, hand walks, sandbag exercises, bodyweight squats, lunges, sled drags, light plyo’s and proper landings- these all make-up the foundation of developing an athlete. Add in mobility, flexibility, and basic movement prep drills and you have your Phase 1 workouts for 4-6 weeks.
Once the athlete sees progress you’ll start to notice a change in their confidence and they’ll want to move on quickly. Stay disciplined and stick to the basics as long as needed. You can still get creative and mix it up but don’t get too fancy (or heavy) too quick. I always try to test the mindset and work ethic of our guys whenever I can. This is still possible by keeping things simple and safe while being intense!
Even if you aren’t an athlete, you still need to develop a foundation of strength for your workouts. The exercises listed above are simple but they can easily bust up anybody. The strongest guys in the world still do chin-ups, dips, and all the back and ab work you can think of. It works for them so it will work for athletes and weekend warriors alike.
Thanks for reading guys.