I like to post programs on my Instagram page. I have no proprietary secrets. There is no special sauce. If there were, it would be called Show Up and DTFW. And maybe wearing a 3 Wolves Howl At The Moon Shirt. Because, #science.
I post these programs because I think they can help coaches like me who find themselves in scenarios that are less than ideal. I’ve left many workshops and seminars with crystal clear ideas about programming, protocols, and periodization that fell apart once I got back to my environment. As one of my former basketball coaches would say, sometimes you have to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.
If you haven’t followed, I’m working with 35-40 baseball guys at a local high school who essentially have a combined training age of fewer than 5 years. The equipment is limited. My time to work with them is limited. The space is extremely limited.
That being said, my initial thinking led me to look at the facts of the my situation.
Things working against me:
- They are untrained. My standards for the technique are a far cry from where we are.
- There is no space.
- There is limited equipment.
- I have no coaching help.
- I have just 1 hour to work with each group.
- Some days I won’t be present and I need to communicate my goals to the coaches effectively
Things working in my favor:
- They are untrained. I can probably make them get stronger by looking at pictures of weights.
- They are young. All hail testosterone 🙌🏼
- Their lack of experience means no bad habits
- I have a ton of energy and am usually over-caffeinated as well.
Here is a picture of the 1st day I programmed for them where I was out of the gym. I had two trial sessions that were exploratory in nature the previous week; however, I couldn’t be there to get this off the ground. I likely have ideal techniques that will not be met by the coaching staff…so what. I did a bunch of dumb shit when left to my own devices in high school. These kids are resilient. First and foremost, I had to get over myself.
I would love to use Mach drills, crawls, and an assortment of other tools. The reality is that we have to clear out all the benches and lay like near sardines to fit the guys in the room. This means I need to do things that are stationary and to the point. The good news is not a single one of them have the core or hip control to knock out a single-leg leg lower without excessive neck tone, lumbar extension, or hip flexor cramps. Even the supported version is quesitonable — but less moving parts is a good thing for us right now.Here
I have two goals woven in the fabric of this entire day: rib cage over a pelvis and a pelvis under a rib cage. The end.
The bear doubles as a reset and I coach the athletes to reach long and gently tuck the hips. Few can maintain a solid reach, but right now it’s about building awareness of that position.
The down dog to push-up is a favorite of mine and it allows the guys to get into closed chain upward rotation. The benefit is that the hamstrings will be taut in the down dog and help to orient the hips by way of posterior tilt. Plate squats skip a few steps but aim to introduce triple flexion to this crew of extended bros.
It’s simple. The coaches I need to outsource on this day and get by with a few simple cues. These guys can practice these moves at home. I make sure to tell the guys they need to get better at these each week because it’s Ground Zero work they need to dominate.
There is not a ton of weight available, so I’ll need to use positions and postures that are more advanced rather than always relying on external load like I’ve been able to in my studio. The truth is when I opened the studio it was basically a “place” with a rubber floor. Could have been a dog sitting service as easily as a fitness and sports training studio. I was good at bodyweight training because I had to be. Necessity has awaked that sleeping giant.
We start with squats — half the group knocking out five and then switching to the other group. Because the weights are light there are a lot of sets. I kept the reps low because their attention span and capacity is poor. Every time we switch weights there is an opportunity for some individual feedback. This is a foundational movement (again, more triple flexion), and they don’t have to exhaut more mental real estate with multiple exercises (yet).
As I build the workout it requires that I leverage the weight we have, time the sequence of exercises, and minimize degrees of freedom so the athletes can train the muscles I want in the way that I want.
Group B and C are split between the groups, with half doing B first and the other half doing C first.
The split allows me to get a few guys on a much needed incline for push-ups. Especially the 1-arm support version. This is just another opportunity to reach. The quadruped row has, you guessed it, a reach incorporated with a row. This posture is hard(er) to compensate, so I can be confident my guys are mostly accomplishing what I want.
Group C involves some higher rep single leg training for the hamstrings. With the back on the ground in the starting position, they can find their abs easier and recruit hamstrings from a position of sagittal competence at the pelvis. We aren’t doing much speed work yet (more later) but I want to make sure we are building tissue tolerance and capacity in sprinting muscles. The dead bug is chosen for similar reasons: they need more ground contact to orient in the sagittal plane and it’s one of the few less-than-bodyweight reaching opportunities the athletes have. They break down quickly on the bear, push-ups, and other exercises where they are required to reach in a prone position. A light kettlebell or plate reach can reinforce this concept and help them appreciate the position I want to accomplish with them.
Aerobic development with a focus on muscle building is the name of the game right now. This means tempo lifting or stato-dynamic for us. They love the pump from this on the upper body days, but not so much on the tempo squats. I love it because it slows things down and lets us hone our technique at this stage of the game. This will be a bridge to more aerobic work down the road that requires sustained and repeated contractions.
What about speed work?
They are so untrained that strength is going to help them run faster. Lifting in a full range of motion might even make them more limber. Anything I do is going to have a positive effect. Right now, my mission is to get a month or so of basic strength training under our belts. It’s likely we’ll also spend one of the three days I’m working with them outdoors (until we can) working on linear acceleration and or lateral acceleration. The model at my studio allows us to address all these components and it was luxury I have taken for granted.
At the end of the day, flexing the hustle muscle and giving my guys multiple opportunities to demonstrate success with basic things is going to reinforce the adaptations I am seeking. They will get stronger. They will build muscle. And damn it, they’ll learn to reach and find some abs.
If you’re a coach reading this, thank you for spending the time going through this. Very often our programming goals are at odds with available resources. Textbook protocols are great in theory, but often the content you have from conferences will need to be adapted to your situation. Think through it and put your best forward.