View Full Version : My latest experiment- teaching young boys basic WL with PVC, etc

Blair Lowe
06-29-2009, 11:32 PM
For some reason, I've got it in my head to teach my boy's team how to manipulate themselves with the basic lower body lifts.

Today I ended up using jump ropes for lack of proper width sticks ( our extra empty wood rails are too thick for their hands ). We stretch it taught and treat it like a stick but we ended up using it for OHS instead of BS ( though we did go over a squat with the hands behind the head and elbows out- very FS-ish ).

Most of my boys have stalled progress with working the SingleLegSquat or Pistol whether the free leg is in front of them or simply hanging down ( by standing on a higher surface/beam ). I had one boy who was able to do about 10 on either leg but this was also a boy with far better balance than any of my current monkeys and is currently on hiatus. As well, his VJ and sprint speed and form were better than the other guys. One of my strongest boys has either some weird leg mechanics or just some enforced motor patterns that were never corrected before I came on and it's been a struggle to fix them since then. They are slightly better but still crappy in general.

We have gone through the partial ROM SLS and those are fine but I have come to believe they all have poor balance issues which may be aided by this supplementation. We have been working on wall squats or goblet squats during conditioning but I will be adding this basic squatting to our warmup. We may also incorporate Burgener drills. I'm not exactly sure the mechanics of the clean or snatch may be worth looking into at this point but I'm planning on the Burgener WU at least besides the 3 basic squats and it's good to learn how to pop the hip. I think they'll find it more fun and a different change of modality than just doing depth drops and deck squats and SLS.

An interesting note today is how it went. Besides 2 distractions that mucked up a lot of it, a couple of the boys had a helluva time with them due to actually requiring concentration and focus. Two brothers seemed to do well, but it's hard to say with the older one since he is not as interested in physical activity while his younger brother is a machine during workout.

While I have taught people how to squat before ( adults ) this was much more of a challenge, especially due to our age. I'm trying to get the go to bring some actual weights in as I think they would be really jazzed if they see me snatch or clean BW or close to. I don't really have racks yet to BS heavy but I'm sure one of those beams will suffice.

In lieu of bars because I still don't trust them, I'm planning to build some weighted PVC bars with sand and putting caps on them with glue and duct taping them just in case so sand doesn't get everywhere. Sand should be cheap while lead shot probably isn't.

In case the Team Program Manager gives me any guff or the owners do- I've prepared by stating that the Russians and Chinese are known to teach their gymnasts to squat besides training many of their WL in gymnastics at the developmental stage.

Steve Liberati
06-30-2009, 03:48 AM
Blair, thanks for sharing. Have you considered starting your own blog?

Derek Simonds
06-30-2009, 04:47 AM
Really good thoughts on using the basic WL movements with gymnasts. One thing I can add from personal experience with my own little gymnast is DL'ing. He just flat out loves it. In fact I have to limit him to when he can do it. I started him DL'ing with his William Bar (5KG) from Pendlay off of blocks. Currently we are in a race to see who can get to a double BW faster. Since I am the one controlling when he lifts I might have a small advantage :D

For whatever reason any boy I have ever had in my gym wants to see how much he can pick up. Might be something universal in there somewhere?

06-30-2009, 06:59 PM
All young boys want to see how strong they are, and if you get them before they get infected with benchpressitis, the two universals are how much they can pick up and how much they can lift over their head.

Blair Lowe
06-30-2009, 11:43 PM
Most of all my boys love picking the weight bar looking things and putting it over the head and getting my recognition like our floor parallettes that have blocks on the sides as anchors.

Another thing is also how my boys love picking up their moms and telling me about it.

One of the boys knows about the OL as he watched them in 08. As far as I'm concerned, BP is ultimately useless for gymnasts besides for ego purposes like spitting and peeing for distance.

I've considered starting my own blog, but I"m pretty lazy about starting it. I've got an idea to start one for the gym I'm at and posting training clips and in gym footage but I'd like to come up with a media waiver first ( one of my old gyms had parents sign them ). I post on my Myspace occasionally but just haven't really gotten into blogging as I have a hard enough time pushing myself to keep up my workoutlog.

Tomorrow I think we'll go over DL again warming up with OHS.

Blair Lowe
07-01-2009, 09:48 PM
OHS was ok today. However, one boy has noted his muscles have been sore since Monday and the only thing I can think of is the OHS. Bare in mind, we were merely doing them with jumpropes stretched taught. However, he is also one of the weakest boys who has a very low tolerance for difficulty/pain/discomfort.

We didn't really have to go over too much re critiquing the basics of the movement such as position and what not. One boy has said his knee was giving him problems last night but I do not know if it was this or something on his own time. He was fine in practice, running around or doing OHS.

Inflexible boy had a really nice taking to the SLDL keeping his head and back in nice position but we have worked these before. The others either chicken necked badly or were a bit round in their thorasic.

Maybe goblet squats next ala Dan John.

Blair Lowe
07-31-2009, 09:25 PM
So it's been a few weeks since we have worked OHS really. I decided to do to it today since I remembered instead of most of our regular WU stuff ( lunges across floor and broad jumps ) for legs.

I definitely need to get them some weighted pvc because they don't understand how you can have to hold a bar over their head.

One boy has very flexible hips but couldn't get the arched back right off and totally rounded or bowed. Kinda weak but he's going on 13. Still, pretty good across the board except for the lil guy who is always a weenie.

Blair Lowe
12-29-2009, 11:36 AM
Kind of digging this up.

Due to a bunch of things, this got put on the backburner. We were still working some of the basic stuff with PVC in the WU but without bars and weights weren't going further.

I managed to get my standard weights out of storage and a 1 inch bar. Because I am concerned about a bar slipping out of their hands and the height discrepancy of a 1 inch bar and 3,5,or 10lb plates; I set the starting position on top of two 6 layer panel mats. This works out pretty well.

Right now, I'm thinking of using 3 exercises mainly. The DL, using the weight for glute-ham bridges if we can't do floor glute-ham or glute bridge foreleg curls (feet in frisbee extend and contract) and OverHead hold. The OH hold is not in a snatch grip but in the grip of their HS. They will eventually have to push press it up and hold it for a duration of time.

To start, they loved it. We got a bunch of sticks and spare high bars, wood or metal to over them again with me going around and checking their form. Focusing on an overgrip (similar to HB or rings), proud chest and no hunch over.

I also need to get another bar. With 5 boys, they started to get bored waiting for turns. Spinlock collars are too slow so I need some spring collars.

The bar is a 6' bar and weighs around 18lbs. Most of these boys weigh between 50-70lbs and are 8-11 years of age.

With the sticks, we worked it from the hang position lowering down. One of the boys used the empty bar but then again he is very strong.

DL were down as singles, 3-5, sometimes 2r. I started them out with 28lbs though the weakest boy started with 18.

I let Erik (low-mid 50s) get up to 60 (he wanted to do 100 as his dad lifts at home with an oly bar) which he noted felt good without any form failure. I let Jack do this as well while the other guys stayed with 28 or 43 because they would start to hunch over.

We worked 3 rounds and Erik enjoyed showing his mom.

Some of my guys are not committed to team so they only come 1-2d/week so I figure some DL will help them to increase their strength. With the weakest boy, I am hoping it gets him stronger from bottom to top. Super flexible but not very strong. He can climb rope of course, tuck planche, and do a few skin the cats and 7 PU but his lower body and trunk strength are meager though he is a fast sprinter due to being a natural born runner according to another coach.

To note, Erik who pulled 60lbs is basically the poster child for inflexibility which is what limits his ability to SLS as his legs are all funky. Fast though with very strong tight hammies. His form was actually the best though Jack's was a close 2nd who is the runner up in the strength department.

peace warson
12-29-2009, 12:02 PM
good stuff! get that squat and press on :)

Blair Lowe
12-30-2009, 12:38 AM
I doubt we will be employing much of either since they are gymnasts. Some shoulder press may be good for shoulder mobility, especially Mr. Inflexible; but more than likely the danger would be ixnayed by my higher-ups unless I spotted it. I'm sure they would enjoy it though. I think the girl's team employs very low weight shoulder presses from time to time but nothing more than 18lbs.

As much as I like the squat of all kinds, I am yet to be approving it as a staple training regimen of gymnasts due to lower body hypertrophy though I cannot deny it's fantastic ability for developing overall body strength. We, however can employ single leg squatting, Pavel pistol style or with the free leg hanging down to our benefit with weight or for power, when applicable. Quite possibly FS, HBBS and more than likely LBBS or box squatting would be ixnayed as well from the higher ups.

I took a lot of shit last time at the gym by the higher-ups for doing weighted pull-ups and chins with a few of the boys (using light weights not near maxes to the use of employing spotting resistance with some of the boys) more as a benchmark day.

Sara Fleming
01-05-2010, 12:38 PM

Just a note on bars if you still want a DIY solution:

I used 5 foot lengths of 1.5 inch PVC capped with sand and they weighed 8-10 lb depending on the sand. If you use mixing sand that has clay in it, it will weigh less. If you use pure white playground sand, it will weigh more. Regardless, once you pound those caps in place, they do not come off without crowbars or other implements of destruction. I was going to use pipe sealant, but it was completely unnecessary. I just banged the pipe on the ground. These were for my beginner clients and work great, especially for overhead squats. But, for littler hands, you might try inserting some rebar into the 1/2 inch PVC to give it some weight and then capping it. Sand won't change the weight that much so you'll need something heavier like the lead shot you suggested or rebar.


Blair Lowe
01-06-2010, 05:06 AM
I may end up making some of these bars, since the gyms bodybars have gone AWOL. I hate the damn things but the girl's program uses them a lot so...

I'm doing a trip to HomeDepot to buy some pvc for rings and maybe some of those bars. We have two sets of parallettes in the gym besides the PB and a whole bunch of other things to do L-sits on.

I pretty much decided I don't need them since we have the real thing for what we are doing but they would still be useful possibly. Sand is cheap, lead shot isn't if I remember; and that is part of the issue (doing this as inexpensive as I can).

I just may have found a line on about 800lbs of plates and a bar for a ridiculous price so I will have more weight than I will know what to do with. The bar is probably a beater but I would then invest in a proper bar and start building my bumper collection and then a squat rack.

Instead of bars, we typically get out ropes, stretch them taught and pretend they are a bar. It gets pretty boring fast for most of them since there isn't any weight.

Thanks, Sara

Blair Lowe
01-24-2010, 01:14 AM
I'm pretty sure I'll start introducing the jump shrug/2nd pull to some of the guys on Monday. Two of them have the basic DL down and I think I gave them the bug when I one arm snatched what they were deading.

They enjoyed the hell out of that which I'm glad I didn't launch or drop on my head. :D

Blair Lowe
04-28-2010, 08:38 PM
An update. We're doing a bunch of strength testing as we just ended the season and today we did the DL. 2 guys were missing but they would probably have been at the tail end.

My strongest DL 78lbsx4@BW of 61. He was actually supposed to try again but opted not to because another boy, a 12yo who is in 6th or 7th pulled it 15x (it was our max weight which means I need more weights). At 15th, he started just rounding his shoulders a bit so I told him to stop. It was his first day ever DL and we did go over before on how to do it. He's pretty slender, under 5 foot but he has sort of surprised me with some strength tests of 8 pullups and 15 dips though he hasn't faired very well on the tests testing torso/core strength like L-sits or skin the cats.

DL were not bounced and included a reset each time. I was probably a bit anal about form but once rounding started, their turn was over.

Of course, the boys loved it when they hit the benchmark of BW or BW+. We haven't gone this high yet generally ending around 68lbsx3.

And of course, the girls looked on with high interest.

Guess, I better go get some weight and another bar before we start the new strength program. Looking to input DL 1x/week, SLS 1x/week, and lower body plyo 1x/week (they go MWF).

I've been thinking I need to video tape it so we could send it to 70'sBig as we polish off some milk during snack break.