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What Intro To Fitness Looks Like

Intro To Fitness – Lesson Plan Preview

An introduction to all things movement and fitness! The aim of this program is to provide each and every student a foundation upon which they can develop their personal fitness or performance training moving forward. We seek to cement proper mechanics through all of the fundamental human movements, begin to develop relative strength & mobility while also introducing the concept of capacity.

Coach Breslin demonstrates what the very first lesson could look like in your class with a guided video and an in-depth lesson plan below.

Lesson 1 The Squat, The Hinge, & Core Work:

*Required Equipment*

  • Room for running (loop or shuttles), or equipment for stationary cardio (bike/elliptical/etc)

Goals:

  • Introduce the Foundational “Squat” pattern through a bodyweight “Air Squat”
  • Introduce the Hip “Hinge” movement pattern through a bodyweight “Good Morning”
  • Introduce the concept of “Supersets”
  • Practice Movement Patterns & Develop Work Capacity
Want to see how your school can use the full Intro To Fitness Program along with many other training programs? 

Teacher’s Introduction to Class: (2 Minutes)

Greet the class and brief the day’s session.

Optional Talk Track:

“Today, we are beginning our movement and fitness journey by learning two of the most important foundational human movements – the Squat & the Hinge.

The Squat is arguably the most foundational movement within any fitness or training program. Why? It’s simple. Mastering it boasts the most bang for your buck. Firstly, it is a movement pattern essential to our DNA. Squatting (properly) is how we were designed to sit – chairs, couches, and toilets haven’t always existed. Squatting and standing is our way of getting up and down (DEMONSTRATE VIA CHAIR). Today we will learn the Air Squat.

We will also be introducing the hip hinge through an exercise called the “Good Morning”. It will set us up for safety during big lifts down the road and help us develop the core strength and stamina necessary for performance and injury prevention. We will “super-set” the good mornings with some elbow planks to begin our core development. 

The entire session today is not meant to be grueling. We want great, consistent movement. Focus on technique first, intensity a distance second.”

Group Dynamic Warm Up: (5 Minutes)

Begin by having everyone get in 2 straight minutes of Light Cardio – an easy jog, time of a stationary bike, etc, your choice. Anything continuous but at a “conversational pace”, aka able to perform while chatting.

Then, together, lead everyone through the two dynamic movement stretches below: 

  1. Spiderman & Reach – 1 Minute Continuous Movement, Alternating 
    1. Coaching Point: The athlete begins in a standard lunge position, with the lead leg at 90 degrees, foot flat on the ground. From here, the athlete takes the near side arm and drives (gently!) the elbow to the instep of the lead foot. This will garner an excellent stretch about the hip joint, increasing our active range of motion, as well as the hamstring, groin, and calf. After a few seconds of a gradual drive downward with the elbow, the athlete turns and rotat es the same arm open overhead. This movement creates great gentle movement throughout the entire back, specifically the Thoracic Spine
  2. Alt. Samson – 1 Minute Continuous Movement 
    1. Coaching Point: We do NOT want excessive lean-back of the torso, placing stress on the lower back and hips. Instead, we want to keep the torso stacked over the hips while driving the hips forward slightly. Standard lunge mechanics apply throughout – hips over back knee, front knee stacked over ankle. The reach overhead should be ACTIVE. Aggressively press upward to turn the shoulders on and get blood moving in and around the joint.

Introducing The Hinge & Isometric Plank Hold (5 Minutes)

Now, gather students for an introduction to, and demonstration of our next two movements.

The “Hinge”: Optional Talk Track

“The first foundational movement we are going to learn today, is an example of the classic “Hip Hinge” – the “Good Morning”.

The “Good Morning” exercise is a versatile tool. It can be used within a warm up, for education and technique work, or even outright core strength and stabilization.

Though it seems simple, it is one of the single most important movements an athlete can learn to do well. It will keep you safe when you jump into weighted movements like the clean or deadlift, and will keep that core super strong!”

The Hinge: Demonstration (2 Minutes)

Have athletes follow along as you explain and demo the good morning.

  1. Begin by placing your feet at hip width, and establishing a soft knee (a slight bend). 
  2. Then, without dropping hip level or further bending the knees, reach the hips back, letting the torso hinge downward. 
  3. All the while, we’re looking to maintain the lumbar curve (the bottom of that natural “S” curve in your spine). A good way to monitor this at first is by placing your hand on the small of your back. Feel the small “scoop” of your lower back. If that scoop rounds in the other direction you have gone too far. Only go so far as you can keep that core section stable!
The “Plank”: Optional Talk Track

“You’ve probably heard of or tried planks before, they are widely used throughout fitness and athletic training programs. But they are often mis-performed, and mis-understood.

As most people know, the strength and stamina of your core is vital for both performance and injury prevention. What many don’t know, however, is how exactly our core is intended to work. From basic crunches to complex bicycle sit ups, many get bogged down in a multitude of dynamic (moving) core exercises that range in difficulty and complexity.

Our core’s greatest asset, though, is not in dynamic movement. In fact, the lion’s share of our core’s responsibility lies in midline stabilization – aka resistance against movement, not initiating it. It is the bridge between our limbs, allowing us to run, jump, throw, etc. A stable core allows for efficient transfer of power from one end of the body to the other. Any loss of core stability during a dynamic movement leaves us with less power output and a greater likelihood of injury. 

Planks are an easy-to-perform tool for developing this stability. However, we must perform them correctly. Often we see athletes with sagging hips, a loose core, and extreme extension of the back. More like an upward dog yoga pose than a core exercise.”

Elbow Plank: Demonstration (2 Minutes)

Now, do the same for our “isometric” core exercise, the elbow plank. 

  1. Begin to dropping to the floor on your stomach.
  2. Then, prop yourself up on your forearms and toes with elbows under the shoulders, and feet/legs together.
  3. Then, actively “squeeze” the abs so that the hips are “high” rather than low, and the back is in a neutral position.

Working Core Superset (8 Minutes)

Introduce Concept of “Superset”: (1 Minute)

Before setting kids to their work, explain the basic concept of “Supersetting” exercises. This means performing 1 set of an exercise, then immediately performing a set of the second exercise (with no real break in between) that is paired with it. After completing both exercises, we rest before beginning the superset again.

Working Superset: (7 Minutes)

Then set yourself a 7 minute clock and set students to complete the following before time is up, while walking the room and looking for proper execution via the coaching points in each movement:

  • Good Mornings – 4 x 10 Reps
    • Coaching Point: Focus on a slight knee bend that never changes, no extra bend, and no lockout of the legs. Simply push the hips backward, as if reaching to a wall behind you, while keeping the back “flat”.
  • Elbow Plank – 4 x :20 seconds
    • Coaching Point: Focus on actively engaging the entire core. Think about sucking your belly button through your spine while simultaneously squeezing the glutes and quads. From the side, your positioning should resemble a hollow hold more than a Sphinx.The entire body should be in an active hold for the duration of the movement, do not let the hips sag or the shoulder joints loosen.
  • 1:00 Rest After Each Round

The Squat (6 Minutes)

Now, gather students back in for an introduction to, and demonstration of our foundation Squat Movement Pattern.

The “Squat”: Optional Intro (1 Minute)

“While some may claim that a full range of motion squat is injurious to one’s knees, the truth is actually just the opposite. Instilling proper mechanics and adding the squat through training is actually quite rehabilitative of bad knees (and backs, hips, etc) as well as preventative of potential injury. A good squat will set anyone up for a healthier life. Additionally, it is a movement that can be used to improve your athleticism in every way.

 Proper squat mechanics translate into enhanced body control in a multitude of movements, keeping you injury-free and energy efficient. Developing raw squat strength makes you more powerful and explosive and initiates one of the best hormonal responses you can get from working out. Working the squat and its variations is also one of the best full-body mobility tools there is. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most versatile movements we can program – from strength, to power, to stamina, to pure mobility, you can get it all from the squat. Take the time to master your movement – it matters most!!”

The Squat: Demonstration (3 Minutes)

Now, have athletes spread out to give themselves room to follow along, and then introduce and demonstrate the movement to the group – having the athletes JUST WATCH AND LISTEN to start

Point 1: The Feet/Stance

Begin by placing your feet at shoulder width, with the toes turned outward slightly – think 11 and 1 on a clock. Everyone will develop slightly different stances as they learn the movement, but this is an excellent place to start.

The #1 priority during this movement is going to be keeping that entire foot in contact with the ground. Think about digging in with the big toe, pinky toe, and heel throughout every rep. No heels off the ground, or ankles rolling/spinning (DEMONSTRATE THOSE FAULTS).

Point 2: Knees/Ankles/Toes

Next thing we want to keep in mind is that throughout the squat movement, our knees should stay stacked directly over our ankles. No knees caving inward (DEMONSTRATE)!

In fact, your knees should drive out over that second toe of each foot. Yes, it’s OK for knees to go past your toes!

Point 3: Lumbar Curve Maintained/Flat Back

Next thing we want to keep in mind is that throughout the squat movement, our back should stay “flat”, just like in our good morning. That core should be turned on, nice and stable. No rounded backs (DEMONSTRATE)!

Point 4: Below Parallel/Full ROM Goal

Our very LAST point of emphasis should be the depth of our squat. Our ultimate goal is full-depth, aka hip crease below parallel (DEMONSTRATE). BUT, we DO NOT CARE ABOUT DEPTH if it comes at the expense of any other point of performance.

Today, it is TOTALLY COOL to only go as far down as allows you to keep all 3 other points of performance perfectly intact (DEMONSTRATE).

The Squat: Movement Practice (3 Minutes)

After briefing the movement verbally, and visually, ask students to follow along with you for 5 slow reps, reinforcing good mechanics verbally.

Now, set athletes to 2 more sets of 5, working with partners or in groups for peer-to-peer review of technique.

  • Air Squats – 2 x 5 Reps
    • Coaching Point: Focus on everything BUT depth. Avoid the common faults…Feet/ankles should never move, knees should never cave in, and back should never round.

The Squat: Optional Movement Scaling

Given our interest in keeping the first 3 points of performance at the forefront of movement execution, and many athletes’ difficulty achieving full depth, we can also choose to “scale” the movement with a physic target (aka a “Tactile” cue). 

To do so, we can introduce an elevated target.

Air Squat: Depth & Scaling Options

Scaling with a target allows us to progress to full depth over time. Find a height (with weights, medball, bench, or anything else, that is doable but challenging. As athletes become comfortable at a given height, we can lower it until we achieve full depth without a target!

The Finisher (12 Minutes)

5 Rounds of:

10 Perfect Air Squats

2:00 Walk/Jog/Run

Explanation

Each student is meant to complete 10 Air Squats, followed by 2 minutes of any light/moderate but continuous “cardio” five times through.

Air Squats should be performed to whatever depth (or target) allows for big sets (aka 10 in a row, or 5 and 5, etc) with all 3 of the other points of performance completely intact. Do NOT rush these, focus on mastering the movement.

Our “cardio” today is meant to be 2 minutes of easy but continuous movement. Ideally, we complete a walk/jog in some sort of “loop”, beginning and ending at the same place. However, we can break it out into smaller shuttle runs, or a longer “down and back” type of run instead. We can also absolutely choose to use any stationary cardio equipment at our disposal instead. Keep it light, and keep it moving!

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