Yesterday I learned of a high school student who is a wrestler and is out for at least this season because of spinal fractures per this report. He said that the coaches had them doing power lifts (squat, bench press, and dead lift) as well as the olympic lifts (snatch and clean and jerk) until they were exhausted. He definitely thought that they were overtrained. No less than three other athletes from the same school have developed lumbar spondylolysis.
I’ve talked to Ben Tennessen several times over the years about this. Ben is the Strength and Conditioning Coach, as well as a phy ed teacher, at Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Ben has been lifting for over 20 years and happens to be one of the very best natural bodybuilders in the world. I have had him coach at our gym and I can attest to the fact that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the iron game. He agrees that the majority of high school weight room coaches and attendants are deficient in their knowledge base, especially when it comes to coaching high school athletes.
Once again, should you let your kid squat? Should you bother incorporating such a “high-risk” exercise into your own fitness program? As I said last week, yes; but only if there are both qualified coaching and supervision to insure that proper form is guaranteed. For example, there are many good reasons why it is popular for high school weight lifting programs to have their athletes attempt to train the Olympic lifts. However, these are among the most complicated and demanding movements one can do in the weight room. Do your coaches have at least the first level of certification by USA Weightlifting? If not, why not? It requires the investment of one weekend, a little travel, and $495.
As far as overtraining goes, I have always told the people I have coached, “Do the least amount that will elicit the desired response (getting stronger over time), not the most that you can stand.”