A Lesson Plan for the Youth Athlete

Slade Jones


Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Strength and Conditioning


Years ago, Dan John wrote a very good article on accumulation and intensification. He defines accumulation as, “actively seeking and learning new sports, lifts, moves, ideas, and games.” Intensification, he defines as, “doing what you say you need to do.” 


Intensification should be the primary focus of any person after the age of 18. You have a goal to lose 15lbs of fat? Great. Stick to your diet and make sure to exercise consistently. On the other hand, accumulation should be the primary focus of any person under the age of 18.



Why Youth Need to Accumulate

Youth today are missing the knowledge, body awareness, control, and strength to perform basic human movements. There are numerous reasons for this, but the result is that most kids don’t have the strength to do a proper push up or pull up, and don’t know the difference between a squat and a hinge.


The goal of a trainer or physical educator should be to pass on this transferrable knowledge that is useful for a lifetime; something kids can take with them beyond high school and use as adults. 


How to Teach Accumulation to Youth

We need to set up a plan, a month by month schedule on systematically teaching the youth.


Let’s use a school year as a template:


August and September: 

  • HKC movements: goblet squat, swing, get up
  • Bodyweight movements: push up, pull up
  • Loaded carries: farmer's carry, suitcase carry
  • Groundwork and tumbling
  • Flexibility and mobility for the hamstrings, hips, biceps, and pecs




October and November: 

  • RKC movements: single arm clean, single arm overhead press, snatch, double KB front squat
  • Barbell movements: back squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press
  • Loaded carries: single arm rack carry, single arm overhead carry



  • Review


January and February: 

  • Barbell movements: clean and jerk, snatch
  • Bodyweight movements: L-Sit to handstand, front lever


March and April:

  • Barbell and kettlebell complexes
  • Assessing and programming for the future



  • Review


The Goal Is Not Elite Youth, But Healthy Adults

This is by no means a perfect plan, but can serve as a template of how to systematically teach youth a wide range of strength training movements. The goal is not specifically to create elite-level lifters, but to prepare them for the future by helping them accumulate as many skills as possible.


Whenever you get lost, always come back to our mission as trainers, coaches, and parents of the youth. That mission is to give our youth as many tools and skills as possible, so they are prepared to live active, healthy lives as adults.


Don't have an advanced facility to train your kids? No problem:

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Headline photo credit: Craig on Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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