Bantam and Midget Training

This post will cover our training methods we perform with our bantam and midget aged athletes. A lot of parents become worrisome when their child begins to lift at this age, they fear stunting of growth, injury, etc.  At Institute 3E we utilize age-specific training, these are points in an athlete's life where they'll be most responsive to different forms of training. 

When your son/daugher lifts with us, the programs and movements they perform are made to create a strong foundation (progressive to their skill level) and to aid them for more elite lifting as they get older. 

There is a term in the strength and conditioning world called, Accumulation of Training Years–an essential piece to an athlete's continuous success. What this means is an athlete that has multiple years training and working on their skill will be better and more prepared than those who don't. This is why learning fundamentals and building a base of strength is so important for this age of athlete–with higher level play and college approaching you don't want to be left behind by the more experienced. 

The aspects of training we focus on with the bantam and midget aged athlete are...

  1. Speed (reaction time)

  2. Strength endurance

  3. Maximal strength

  4. Explosive strength

As an athlete gets older it will be harder for them to keep up with an elite level player who's had years of experience in the gym. For example, if you're planning on playing juniors and you've never truly back squatted before–you're going to get passed up by someone who's squatted the past couple of years. While they're adding weight and getting're working on learning the movement, gaining the mobility and building a base of strength. 

Speed (reaction time) is a huge component we work on at this age group, this aspect goes hand-in-hand with explosive power and strength as well. We'll perform exercises such as, plyometrics (broad jumps, box jumps, vertical jumps), Olympic lift progressions and various team-based exercises such as indian arm wrestling. 

Strength endurance is a key to building an athlete's base of strength, this involves performing a movement for multiple repetitions. It builds the capacity of muscles to handle a larger workload (i.e.more reps) while maintaining the strength of doing so. Examples of this are any strength movement with more than 5 reps (back squatting for 8 reps, incline benching 10 reps, chin-ups max reps). 

Maximal strength and explosive strength while different in many aspects work together in unison in a lot of cases. For example, you won't be able to create a maximal strength effort without some form of explosive strength, vice versa. With a built foundation of basic strength the muscle will be able to handle heavier loads (i.e. less reps, heavier weight) and be able to create more explosiveness. Examples of these aspects include: plyometrics, lower reps-heavier weight movements (a 3-5 rep deadlift) and exercises involving critiqued tempos (holding a front squat for 2 seconds at the bottom, then exploding up). 

An athlete's time at this age should be spent building a good base of strength, this will help improve their performance and keep them ahead of their competition. Higher levels of play call for more speed, strength and endurance–our programs will help prepare your athlete for just that. To get a better idea of the images above check out the video below! 

Peewee Training

In a recent article we discussed mite and squirt training, this article will entail training for the peewee aged athlete. 

In the athletic and strength training world there is something called, "accumulation of training years." In summation this explains that the more time spent training or practicing a skill, the easier it will be to develop as time passes with a better pay off. We realize this and construct programs that are tailored to your athlete's specific age and skill. 

The aspects we focus on with the peewee aged athlete include...

  1. General coordination

  2. Flexibility

  3. Speed (reaction time) 

  4. Speed (movement frequency)

  5. Strength endurance

As time goes it becomes increasingly harder for some skills to be developed by an athlete, if not prefaced at an early age. For example, if a younger athlete can't perform 5 consecutive push-ups, then it will be tougher for them to transition to more advanced lifting and a higher level of play as they age. 

General coordination, flexibility and speed (reaction time) are all keys for elite athletes to develop at young ages. For these aspects we use animal flow (advanced), basic tumbling/advanced tumbling, beginning dowel training, tennis ball drills, advanced agility drills and many more. We also explained these three more in-depth in the mite and squirt post

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Speed (movement frequency) is an aspect that has an athlete focus on their ability to maintain a pace with a time demand. It helps preface the athlete by combining cognitive and speed aspects, it develops one's ability to gauge and develop different speeds on cue. Examples of drills we use here are jumping drills, advanced agility/speed drills, various tennis ball movements, jump rope drills and animal flow into tumbling (frog stands/hand stands). 

Strength endurance is an increasingly important skill as your athlete ages, this is their ability to maintain a level of strength over an amount of time. Every athlete should have a base of basic strength at this age, this will facilitate their future transition to advanced lifting. For strength endurance we focus on a lot of bodyweight oriented exercises like, pistol squats, push-up drills, chin-ups, rope climbing, peg board and many more. 

When your athlete trains with us it's more than just going to an off-ice session. It's investing in their future, their future of growth and athletic development. There are aspects of athleticism that become increasingly harder to learn with age, don't miss your athlete's opportunity for optimal growth. To get a better idea of the images above check out the video below! 

Post-Activation Potentiation

The theory and practice of Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) revolves around prepping the nervous system for heavier maximal loads. This is known as Post-Tetanic Facilitation, this states if you lift a heavy amount usually a single, double or triple-you'll be able to lift a heavier amount with a higher rep range (ex: you'll be able to lift a heavier 6 rep after a heavy single, as opposed to just doing 6's) or create more power if you're doing a plyometric. In summary it's the method of priming the nervous system by creating a more effective neural drive.

When working with our athletes we facilitate this into the programs of some of our most elite players. They don't realize it at the time, but they're practicing a method that has long been used to create power and strength increases in a plethora of athletes. Hockey players have a demand for strength and speed in their game, thus making our form of PAP a useful tactic for increasing both at once.

An example of PAP we use with our athletes...

A1. Back squat - 3 reps, 40X0, 10 sec rest, 8 sets

A2. Depth jump - 6 reps, X, 4 min rest, 8 sets

Another example might be...

A1. High handle sled push - 10 meters, X, 0 sec, 10 sets

A2. Sprint - 10 meters, X, 3 minute rest, 10 sets

This example includes a heavy strength movement (3 rep back squat) and a plyometric (depth jump), both effective for hockey players. We combine these movements to increase a player's recruitment of muscle fibers when producing power. It's important to point out the rest time in-between each set--make sure to take a longer rest after the second movement when practicing PAP. The reason for this is the increased demand on neural drive, the body needs adequate rest to keep performing at an efficient rate.

PAP can be an effective change up when increasing one's strength/power production. It can be used combining different movements other than the one's used above (ex: 1 rep back squat, followed by a 6 rep back squat). It's also important to note that this method should be used sparingly, it's taxing on the nervous system and should be used strategically with your in/off-season schedules--this will help avoid burnout or any form of strength backtracking.

Important takeaways

  1. Use sparingly, there's a time and place in everyone's training program when PAP could be more or less effective.
  2. Allow adequate rest time.
  3. Combine movements that benefit and facilitate well together.
  4. If you're new to lifting this method won't benefit you as much as an advanced, trained athlete.