Time Efficient Fitness for Young Athletes (Includes 3 Workouts)

Fred Fornicola


Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States

Nutrition, Family and Kids

It has been my experience that when an individual strength trains using controlled repetitions, utilizes perfect form throughout the entire set and works within their momentary muscular ability (MMA) on six to ten exercises, they can get quite strong.


If they add the additional component of moving quickly from one exercise to the next, they will not only increase their strength, but their metabolic conditioning as well.



This method of training allows for periods when direct conditioning training is absent or minimized and the athlete can still maintain a better-than-average level of fitness.


When periods of the year dictate a higher level of conditioning, training cycles can be advantageous to improving the athlete’s potential for advancements in his or her sport.


Because improving both strength and conditioning are a high priority for an athlete, there are times when direct work for both needs to be implemented in the training period.


For most young athletes and coaches the conundrum lies in finding the time. Time, as we know, can be a valuable commodity and so we must accommodate the athlete’s needs and availability.


Combination Training

In an attempt to optimize time and effort along with promoting proper rest and recovery for growth, the following approach of combining strength training with direct aerobic stimulation can be considered for training an athlete.


Before you start, though, you must first consider if the athlete has the capacity for such a workout. Not all trainees have the capacity mentally and/or physically to sustain such a program. This is where a qualified coach really comes into play.



Secondly, you must address the facility at which the athlete is training and the availability of modalities at the athletes’ disposal and the safety of use. A structure such as I’m about to recommend may not be conducive to crowded gyms but can certainly work well in a private establishment, the school gym possibly, and even the great outdoors.


The process is quite simple and direct as it involves performing a strength exercise alternated with a direct cardiovascular exercise.


For instance, let’s take a compound lower body movement like the squat and have the trainee perform a set of 20-30 controlled reps to MMA. Going to MMA means going until he physically can't do another rep while keeping good form.


The athlete will then move immediately to the elliptical for 2 hard minutes. This does not need to be performed at a break neck pace, as his heart rate will be substantially elevated from the difficult set of squats that preceded.




Given the total time, the athlete’s heart rate will have been elevated several minutes, stemming from a metabolic as well as direct cardiovascular stimulation. At the end of the 2 minutes, give the trainee 60-120 seconds of recovery and move him to the next strength exercise.


A workout lasting 30 minutes will have the trainee using only a handful of “big exercises” followed by a bout of a cardiovascular exercise. If at all possible, combine strength and cardio pieces that do not overly stress the same muscle groups so safety is not compromised.


For instance, someone just off the leg press who already has wobbly legs and is breathing very rapidly would be ill advised to try and run on the treadmill as if could lead to improper form or injury.


Choosing the elliptical, stationary bike, stepper, or some type of upper body ergometer or equivalent would be a better and safer choice, but use whatever you have at your disposal that is safe for the trainee.



Note: The cardiovascular segment should be a high level of effort for the 2 minutes.


Sample Strength/Cardio Free-Weight Workout

  • Squats/deadlift: 1 x 20-30 reps, then 2 minutes on elliptical
  • 2 minute recovery
  • Bench press: 1 x 10-12 reps, then 2 minute run
  • 90 second recovery
  • Chin-up/pull-up: 1 x max reps, then 2 minutes on stationary bike
  • 90 second recovery
  • Shoulder press: 1 x 10-12 reps, then 2 minutes on step machine
  • 90 second recovery
  • Row: 1 x 10-12 reps, then 2 minutes on vertical climber


Another approach is to prioritize the cardiovascular component first, then apply the strength portion of the program.


This approach works well with machine-based equipment for safety reasons as someone who just did 2 minutes of running would be ill-advised to perform squats or an overhead press.


Sample Cardio/Strength Machine Workout

  • 2 minute run, then chest press 1x12-15 reps
  • 90 second recovery
  • 2 minutes on elliptical, then leg press 1x20-25 reps
  • 2 minute recovery
  • 2 minutes on stepper, then pulldown 1x12-15 reps
  • 90 second recovery
  • 2 minutes on stationary bike, then shrug 1x12-15 reps
  • 90 second recovery
  • 2 minutes on vertical climber, then machine rows 1x12-15 reps


Lastly, here is one more example using nothing but bodyweight movements and running.


This is a mixture of protocols, with the athlete working very hard on stabilization, balance, strength, and conditioning. Even though it only involves bodyweight exercises, it should not be taken lightly.


Sample Cardio/Strength Bodyweight Workout

  • Walking lunges 1 x 20 each leg, then 2 minute run, then walking lunges 1 x max
  • 2 minute recovery
  • 2 minute run, then push-ups 1 x max, then 2 minute run
  • 2 minute recovery
  • Chin-ups/pull-ups 1 x max, then 2 minute run, then negative chin-ups/pull-ups 1 x max
  • 2 minute recover
  • 2 minute run, then crunches 1 x max, then 2 minute run



Obviously, the workout programs are infinite for this type of protocol. The key factors are based on the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness for the young athlete being trained.

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