The world of high school sports is getting more competitive. High school athletes train harder, longer, and eat smarter that ever. In this highly competitive environment, athletes need to be in tip top shape. They need to strengthen their whole bodies and continually work on flexibility to prevent injury. With these needs in mind, the following are 3 must-know exercises for high school athletes to improve strength, explosiveness, and to develop a competitive edge over their competition.
Disclaimer: Before diving in, it must be noted that proper form is essential to preventing injury and maximizing athletic improvement. Athletes who are unfamiliar with the exercises listed below should consult with a professional, such as a personal trainer, coach, or weight class teacher, to ensure proper mastery of each movement. Failure to master proper form can lead to injury, which is the antithesis of what these exercises are meant to accomplish. As always, consult with a physician to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise.
Power cleans are an olympic weight lifting movement that require skill, coordination, balance, and strength. Properly done, power cleans are a tremendous whole-body strengthening exercise. What makes power cleans unpopular with many high school athletes is how technical the movement is and how long it takes to properly progress. It takes many, many repetitions to get it right, and often high school athletes lack the patience to develop proper form. However, when mastered power cleans are one of the best exercises a young athlete can perform to improve overall strength and mind-muscle connection.
Squats are another effective whole-body workout with a focus on building stronger legs. They are considered somewhat of a whole body workout because of the need to build strength in the back to hold the weight properly. However, squats are most effective at building strong legs.
There are several different types of squats that can be done, and these differ from one another by the width of your stance. For high school athletes, the most effective squats will be those where your stance (i.e. foot position) is shoulder-width apart. For taller high school athletes, a slightly wider stance may be best.
Another whole-body exercise with an emphasis on the back, deadlifts are not only popular, they are effective. They are arguably one of the simplest exercises in the weight room. Described simply, deadlifts are the lifting of weight off the ground. Do not let their simplicity fool you. Deadlifts are responsible for many, many gym-related injuries. There is a technical piece to the deadlift to prevent back strains. High school athletes who master the deadlift can expect improvement in overall strength in the legs, glutes (the butt), lower back, upper back, and grip strength.
Special considerations for high school athletes.
High school athletes are still growing and developing. Therefore, there are special considerations that must be taken into account to prevent injury. First, ample warmups, such as 15-20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before even touching the weights is recommended. Start with light weights and perform many reps to warm up the specific muscles used in each exercise before moving to heavier weight. Lastly, always have a spotter. Spotters help save you when you fail, and they can also help to critique and correct your form.
Want to learn how to perform these lifts correctly? Ask one of our personal trainers!