Long-term athletic development is one of the many goals for a high school strength coach. Every day we work to transform the young athlete into a robust machine that can squat, hinge, explode, absorb force (land), press, pull, carry, and lunge.
Many of these attributes can be instilled and enhanced by the core lifts that are performed with squat racks, barbells, dumbbells, and benches. But after a high school facility has the staple pieces of equipment in place, there are five additional pieces of equipment to add to a weight room...when the budget allows.
Supplementing your weight room with these pieces will raise the level of training and allow your athletes to maximize their physical potential.
1. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands, or monster bands, are versatile, portable accessory equipment for any weight room.
These bands are wonderful tools when working with young athletes who may not be able to perform body weight exercises such as the pull-up or dip. The bands are available in a variety of widths, thicknesses, and resistance levels and can be used for anything from banded pull-ups, banded pull-a-parts for the upper back and traps, band walks for the glutes, mobility work, or banded bench presses and squats.
The ability to vary resistance levels and even location of the athlete’s band grip makes it easy to conduct group exercises with athletes of varying strength and skill.
2. Trap/Hex Bar
The deadlift is a staple in all athletic development programs to develop lower body strength, power, and the ability to apply force into the ground.
The trap bar, or hex bar, makes it easier for athletes to get in a safe position to perform the movement. Many young athletes do not have the proper mobility to get in the good starting position necessary to perform a safe conventional deadlift with a barbell. This puts many young athletes at risk of injury when performing the movement. The trap/hex bar decreases a great deal of this risk, allowing more athletes to capture the tremendous benefits of the deadlift exercise without unnecessary risk to their health and sports performance.
The number one goal of all strength coaches should be that no harm/injury is incurred to the athlete while in the weight room.
3. Glute/Ham Developer
The glute/ham developer is a great piece of equipment to develop the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Many athletes and especially young athletes have a weak posterior chain. Lots of sports, like basketball, volleyball, and soccer are very anterior dominant; therefore, it is our duty as a strength and conditioning coach to develop our athlete’s posterior chain.
Strengthening an athlete’s posterior chain will also help them better perform other weightlifting movements, like the squat, clean, push jerk, and snatch.
4. Medicine Balls
Medicine ball training has been around since the Ancient Greeks and allows for endless training adaptations for strength, stability, and power.
The ability to use different sizes and weight levels allows for a coach to continuously challenge his/her young student-athletes. These are a great tool for loading young high school athletes because many of them are not confident in the fundamental movement patterns. The medicine ball allows for the student-athlete to learn the pattern without having the psychological bearing of a barbell, dumbbell, or plate.
Medicine balls are also unbelievable, when used correctly, for producing and developing power effectively and safely through all planes of motions.
5. Suspension Training Device
Suspension training devices take up very little space in the weight room and provide the possibilities of 100s of bodyweight exercises.
Suspension devices train movements, not muscles.
This means that athletes can not only increase their strength but also their balance, stability, mobility, and coordination at the same time. It is very important that young high school athletes learn to ‘move well’ before excessively loading. The devices are very portable, and you can leverage gravity and the student-athlete’s body to complete the exercises.