Bare Bones Approach to Getting Stronger

October 27, 2012 | Kasey Esser

Must See Strength Training Videos

As a young athlete, you require a few things in life:

  • Food: good nutrition is essential to growing bigger and stronger
  • Sleep: rest for growth and development
  • Strength: for sports and everyday activities

Trust me, I know that list is not original. But that's the point: to become a better athlete, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. You just have to get the wheel spinning more efficiently. However, I'm not going to talk about eating or sleeping. If you aren't doing those things, start doing them. I want to use this article to discuss the oft-misunderstood notion of strength.

I'm going to bet that the program you're currently on involves massive amounts of lifting and high-level plyometrics. On the surface, those Quarter Squats and High Box Jumps may signal strength and power to your buddies, but they're actually setting you up for disappointment and possible injury down the road. Why? Because in most cases, there is no foundation of strength to support that type of training; and without a foundation, technique tends to take a back seat, leading to plateaus and unnecessary injuries.

If you're serious about getting stronger, I challenge you to take the plates off and put the boxes away for awhile and re-build your foundation of strength. The following workout doesn't sound like much, but it will ensure you can handle future loads with skill, not just brute force. Remember, you are an athlete, not a weightlifter. As I mentioned, it's a foundation, so make sure it has no cracks. For the next two weeks, perform the following every day:

Plank

The goal is to hold for one minute without letting your lower back go into hyperextension (i.e. arching of the lower back). Practice until you can accomplish this. Always engage your glutes and mid-section as much as possible. (Read more on the STACK Plank page.)

Overhead Squat

Learn how to squat properly before you start piling weight on the bar. (See Overhead Squat How-To.)

Sets/Reps: 5-8x50

If your technique is spectacular after one week, increase the overall reps to 75-100. Go old school. Take a PVC pipe or a broomstick and hold it straight over your head while you squat. Sit back on your heels and maintain an upright torso. Don't let the pipe dip in front of your head. Depth-wise, I would like you to squat until the tops of your thighs are below parallel.

If you have trouble maintaining good posture, perform the squats in front of a wall. You won't be able to hit the depth right away, but keep practicing and you will get there.

Deadlift

Mastering this movement will have an immediate transfer to how you perform on the field. Squats tend to dominate most high school weight rooms, but for maximum strength development, you need to prioritize the Deadlift. A stronger posterior chain means a stronger athlete. (See How to Perform the Deadlift.)

Sets/Reps: 5-8x50

  • If you have never deadlifted before, find a power rack
  • Set the pins just below your knees and set unloaded barbell on pins
  • Bend from the waist, pushing hips and butt back
  • Grasp barbell with mixed grip (one hand overhand, one hand underhand)
  • Pull shoulders down and back, so chest naturally opens up
  • Pull bar up, driving hips through at the top
  • As you become more comfortable, gradually move the pins lower until you are deadlifting off the floor

Push-Ups

Sets/Reps: 1x20.

Attempt one all-out set per day, followed by one or two sub-max sets of no more than 6 to 8 reps.

Before you get ready to press weight on the Bench Press, you should be able to knock out 20 perfect push-ups. (Perform Perfect Push-Ups.) However, this only applies if you can complete a one-minute plank.

You will probably struggle to hit 20 perfect reps on day one, but you don't have to succeed overnight.

Kasey Esser
- Kasey Esser, CSCS, CPT, is a trainer based in Beverly Hills, Calif. He formerly worked as an assistant strength coach at the University of Evansville.
Kasey Esser
- Kasey Esser, CSCS, CPT, is a trainer based in Beverly Hills, Calif. He formerly worked as an assistant strength coach at the University of Evansville.

Featured Videos

Adrian Gonzalez Rope Plank Adrian Gonzalez Rope Plank Views: 632,441
Ronda Rousey Shows Off Intense New Bag Drill Ronda Rousey Shows Off Intense New Bag Drill Views: 68,124
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Views: 1,524,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,164
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,831
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,057,815
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,082,676
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,974,019

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Building Brakes for More Speed

Building Brakes for More Speed

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Strength Isn’t Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Strength Isn't Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

YardBarker