In Coaching, Kids, Videos

February 18, 2011

Video Article

Zach Even-Esh, owner of the affiliate Underground Strength Gym, has found success training young athletes. His programming is tailored to help sport-specific young athletes step up their game.

“These younger athletes need consistency and stability, and they have to adapt to the workout,” Even-Esh says.

His programming is built around mini-cycle training. This training uses a routine in Week 1 that is repeated in Week 2 and possibly Week 3. While the first week is an introduction to the movements and workouts, the second is for improving performance over the first week’s times, repetitions and loads. It also increases intensity. The mini-cycle ends with recovery.

“If they’re always working hard, hard, hard, they’re going to crash and burn, so after two to four weeks of aggressive training, we kick it back,” Even-Esh says. “It improves their athletic ability and it keeps them hungry to train, which is critical.”

8min 28sec

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Episode 149 by Justin Judkins, published Dec. 8, 2010.

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18 Comments on “Programming for Young Athletes Part 1: Mini-Cycle Training”


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

DAMN THAT video was awesome!!! ha ha

sorry guys, being the first comment is always kinda cool :)

ha ha

If any1 has questions I'll be back on monday to answer questions so feel free to post them below in comments!!!

Thanks to the CF Journal Crew for visiting, MUCH respect and thanks!



wrote …


I've basically arrived at the same point that you have. We do a 5/3/1 progression plus assistance work and end with a finisher 2x week and an explosive day 1x week.

The assistance work and the finishers stay the same for 2-3 micro-cycles. Then we switch them up, but the 5/3/1 progression stays the same. The explosive days stay the same for a while as well - for example we've been working snatches and derivatives for several weeks now.

Sounds similar to what you're doing. And I'm glad you said in no uncertain terms that strength is the foundation of athletic performance. Everyone in my gym has to complete the Starting Strength program before they get to do any of the stuff I listed above.


wrote …

Strength rules! Keep doin' what you're doin' Zach. Awesome stuff!


wrote …

Thanks Zach!


wrote …

Good stuff Zach, Thank for sharing! I really appreciate you and everybody else willing to take the time and share their thoughts and methods of how to train. I will hopefully have some young athletes to train this summer and I was thinking about doing something similar with them, so this really helps out to see people doing similar things with such success.


wrote …

Excellent breakdown of using the mini cycle routine and the thought process behind it that only comes through experience.

I am new to the training business and I am training young athletes right now, and this video has really been beneficial in my learning process. Following similar methods, in trying to prevent burnout and keeping the motivation going. One thing I have learned, kids today want to see progress when they put in time (I call this the video game syndrome) so keeping them on the track is important. Those deload and recovery days are very important.

Thanks Zach and thanks CF for having experts like Zach featured in the Journal.

Get Strong!


wrote …


I love the fact that your create a safe haven for the athletes. Even though they are banged up you create a place for them to come in a get the blood flowing while showing them that you have their best interest in mind. I think that is very important to a kid to know he isn't just a number. As they develop athletes go through peaks and valleys with their confidence and often athletes athletes will listen to their coach over their parents.

I struggle with parents being over evolved in athletics. I think coaches can be a great barrier if they are properly trained.

Keep up the great work, we love watching your video's.


wrote …

Awesome video! This is why I love the CF Journal. Always reaching out to the best trainers in the game.


wrote …

Great work Zach. Having strong leaders such as yourself provide positive influence and motivation to the next generation of athletes is so important. Excellent video!


wrote …

Zach , Your love of coaching is both evident and inspirational. It's great those kids have a coach with real passion and expertise.
Keep up the great work, I salute you and thanks for the Video.


Sean Villagracia wrote …

Awesome video, Zach! You are an awesome leader and coach. Keep up the good work, it's always great to see stuff coming in here from you.


Stephen Wakefoose wrote …

I have a 17 yo and often struggle with programing for him. He's been doing awesome but then add in the sport conditioning they do at practice etc and the varried programing at our affiliate I feel it dosen't do him justice to get the most he can out of his time training. Great insight into many questions!


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Good points made as always!
The part about athletes developing trust in their coach was really important.
Thanks, Z!


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

Guys, BIG thanks for all the GREAT feedback!!


Zach Even - Esh wrote …


as a 17 yr old who has practice and is doing lots of conditioning you will need to step away from constantly varied and out him on a 2 or 3 week mini cycle

If he already does lots of conditioning at practice, NO need to add more, it will be overkill and burn him out, in essence, he will become worst at his sport

Let him focus on strength since he is likely NOT getting strength work in season

Follow my method as above or Wendler's 5 3 1

If he can focus on basics such as submax effort on squats, bench, deadlift, mil press and work hard on pull ups, rope climbs, swings, weighted push ups, ring push ups, back extensions, ab work he will kick ass

You may have to set aside a small part of your gym for the in season athletes and have a different workout posted on the boards for them

keep me posted on this, he will kick ass, trust me!

peace bro!



Rob Barrese wrote …

Great video as always Zach! Thanks for sharing.


wrote …

Zach, where did you come up with this program? Through trial and error or using bits and pieces of other programs? Also where can I find information about Wendells program?



wrote …

Where's the WOD? Did I miss it? If not how and when do you integrate the constantly varied high intensity WOD? Do you look for plateaus?

I have been focused on strength the last month with my 13 year old and he increased his strength by 10% on several lifts after watching yours and Louis videos. I have been using 5/3/1 and pushing for power on every lift.

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