The importance of long term approach to strength development for children can not be overstated. Strength training programs designed with a focus on developing maximal strength are essential to develop proper body composition, improve athletic performance, reduce injury risk and increase overall health. However, these same exercises have been shown to produce positive effects on many other areas of well being including self esteem, social skills, academic achievement and mental well being.
Weightlifting is one of the most effective forms of physical activity for improving muscular size, strength and power. While it may seem like a simple task to just pick up some weights and start doing pull ups or squats, there are several factors that must be considered when designing a program. First off, strength training programs designed with a focus on developing maximum strength will usually result in greater gains than those based around increasing muscle mass alone. For example, if your goal is to build muscle mass then you would probably benefit from using a strength training program that emphasizes heavy compound lifts such as the squat, bench press and deadlift. If your goals are to improve muscular size, however, then heavier isolation movements such as bicep curls and triceps extensions might be better choices.
Another consideration when selecting a weightlifting program is whether or not it should emphasize hypertrophy (muscle growth) or strength (strength development). This is not as cut and dry of a decision as it may initially appear however, since increasing muscular size is generally the result of lifting heavy weights and proper rest periods between sets. It is also important to note that certain training techniques can be used to focus on muscular endurance or even on anaerobic power (explosive movements) as well.
Resistance training is a great way of getting your body into peak condition for sports during the off season.
With all of this information in mind, lets take a look at some of the most popular weightlifting programs that are currently available.
One of the most popular weightlifting programs currently available is known as the Starting Strength Program. Created by Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength is a weightlifting program that is intended to help novices gain strength for sports such as football, basketball and baseball.
The first phase of this program is known as the novice phase and it is broken down into three different levels. During the first level (beginner novice) an emphasis is placed on learning proper technique for the squat, bench press and deadlift. During this phase lifters are also expected to record their workout results in a training log.
The second level of the program (intermediate novice) involves moving on to three lift programs that are designed to increase overall strength. During this time lifters are still expected to perform the core exercises listed above. It is during this time that many novice lifters make the mistake of increasing the weight they are lifting before their form and overall strength is adequate to do so. This can result in injury and is why it is important to follow the program as laid out and to wait until your technique has been mastered before attempting to move on to an advanced level of training.
The final level of the program (advanced novice) involves bulking up and gaining size. During this time you will begin moving on to heavier lifts (such as deadlifts, squatting heavier and bench pressing) and using lower repetitions (typically 1-5 reps per set). You will also begin resting a little longer in between sets (3-5 minutes).
Unlike other weightlifting programs, Starting Strength is not a 12 week program. It prescribes 3 month blocks for each of the three levels and then repeats (3 months of strength, 3 months of bulking, 3 months of specialization, 3 months of power).
If you are looking for a good weightlifting program to help you improve your overall strength then this might be the one for you.
The weightlifting program that I have chosen to profile in this section is the one that I have been using for the past year with a great deal of success. It is known as the 5 x 5 Program and was created by Mark Rippetoe.
It is important to note that this program requires you to use a concentrate and isolate approach rather than the traditional bulk and cut system (where you try to gain a lot of fat during the “bulk” then burn it off during the “cut”).
This means that you should try to eat continuously throughout the day to maintain your energy. It is also important to note that this program requires you to eat a lot (your appetite will most likely increase). If you aren’t eating a lot then you probably aren’t getting big (this program doesn’t promise that you will get big but if you are doing everything else right then you should definitely see some size increases).
To begin you need to figure out how many calories you should be eating. There are a lot of online calculators that can give you a general idea of how much you should be eating (I recommend the one on the ExRx website).
Mark provides his own version of these online calculators on his website and I have provided a link in the sources section. Once you know how many calories you should be eating then you can begin the program.
The way this program works is you perform three different exercises for 5 sets of 5 reps each.
Sources & references used in this article:
Long-term athletic development and its application to youth weightlifting by RS Lloyd, JL Oliver, RW Meyers… – Strength & …, 2012 – journals.lww.com
The youth physical development model: A new approach to long-term athletic development by RS Lloyd, JL Oliver – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2012 – journals.lww.com
National Strength and Conditioning Association position statement on long-term athletic development by RS Lloyd, JB Cronin, AD Faigenbaum… – Journal of Strength …, 2016 – ingentaconnect.com
Integrating models of long-term athletic development to maximize the physical development of youth by AW Pichardo, JL Oliver, CB Harrison… – … Journal of Sports …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com