Weight Training has been shown to improve movement for people of all ages in sport and clinical settings. Training age has a large impact on what kinds of program, exercises, and intensities someone should be doing. Generally, the advanced lifter requires greater variation in terms of intensities, training frequency, and complex movements, whereas beginners tend to only need more simple movements and easier rep ranges to elicit large gains in performance.
As a novice in weight training for the athlete, your exercise selection should be focused around the basic foundational movements – squat, hip hinge, upper body push and pull, and a brace – with a strong emphasis on increasing stability, work capacity, muscle size, and general strength. For the intermediate, movements can get more complex and include things like simple joint structure strengthening, injury prevention, continued muscle growth, and heavy strength movements that emphasize large muscle utilization. For the advanced (collegiate/pro), maximal intensities, high levels of variation, and specific weak point training can be used more regularly to reduce injury and maintain the athlete’s top end strength with planned subtle increases in performance over longer periods of time.
Reps, sets, exercise selection, and long term training programs should be selected wisely by a well experienced strength and conditioning coach so that the beginner (novice) can progress quickly and safely throughout the different stages of development without plateau. Often, inexperienced or undereducated coaches will give beginners too intense/complex movements in hopes of appealing to overzealous parents and progressing them too quickly to difficult movements, but for the beginner athlete strength movements like light high rep squats, push ups, bodyweight rows, etc. are more beneficial for overall movement function in the short and long term by enhancing general strength, coordination, and balance (which is strongly connected with increased athleticism and sport performance). When it comes to getting the beginner faster, they have greater results from learning proper running mechanics and body awareness rather than having an additional stimuli to worry about (like dragging a parachute or banded running). Under the guidance of an educated coach, the beginner will not only succeed with less injury but will also continue to excel and have fun as they develop. It’s important to lay a strong foundation of proper movement so that the beginner can one day reach an advanced stage.
Training age is not set by biological age. Instead, the beginner training age is based around their movement capabilities, structural joint integrity, work capacity, general strength, etc. (so you could be starting out as a beginner at 45) Any time you stop working out consistently and take a month or longer break, your training age should be momentarily reset when you start back up. For people that have lifted a lot in the past and start back years later, they may experience a faster growth through a beginner level program and move on to intermediate training faster than average as adaptation will occur faster. However, the intermediate lifter may never be advanced unless a lot of time, structure, and consistent long term gains is committed to training while staying free from injury (i.e. Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Elite Level Sport-specific training, etc.). Advanced training would be situated around the genetic cap of specific abilities that may take 6 months to a year to make small improvements in strength. Improvements might be considered only a few pounds added to a PR over a long period of time, rather than fast gains that beginner and intermediate lifters often display. Reaching a plateau prior to approaching the maximum genetic potential can be due to lack of programming, bad nutrition, sleep habits, stress, overtraining, etc.
At The Rack we take into account a lot of different, changing factors to build the beginner, intermediate, and advanced lifter onto the next stages of training development for swift, consistent, safe results.