If you’ve been training people for long enough, you gain the ability to spot talent. I’ve been chomping at the bit to train my niece Gabrielle Contreras. I told myself that I’d wait until she turned 13 years old to train her. Three years ago, while I had my training studio Lifts, Gabrielle would visit on the weekends and watch me train clients. On about ten different occasions I put her through a simple bodyweight training routine consisting of Bulgarian squats, single leg hip thrusts, step ups, single leg back extensions, push ups, chins ups, hanging rows, planks, and side planks. In the meantime, she’s been playing club volleyball as well as volleyball for her school team. One day several years ago I looked over and Gabrielle was squatting with the barbell on her back. I had never taught her how to lift but she was using perfect form. She looked like a piston; moving upwards and downwards with ease. She was ten years old at this time and I was blown away at her stability and fluidity. I didn’t allow her to keep lifting weights as I wanted her to wait until she really wanted to adhere to a strength training routine in order to advance her athleticism. During volleyball season, her coach has her doing plenty of lunging, planks, push ups, and jumps.
Fast forward three years later. She recently turned 13 years old and came to work out in my garage for the very first time. I spent a considerable amount of time working on her form on the three lifts I intended to teach her for the day (full squats, hex bar deadlifts, and single leg hip thrusts). This was the very first time she had ever performed squats or deadlifts with weight on the bar. I figured I’d have her do 65 lbs for the squats and around 95 lbs for the deadlifts, but I was blown away at her strength! She lifted 95 lbs for a single on the full squat and 135 lbs on the hex bar deadlift. She also did 12 single leg hip thrusts! Definitely the most impressive aspect of this training session was how natural great form feels to her. Check out the Youtube video I made of the workout:
Some of the things that impressed me about her form is her mobility, core control, glute activation, minimal energy leaks, and power out of the hole. To be this strong and fluid on her very first strength training session shows that she has tremendous talent. Think back to what your form looked like the very first time you did squats or deadlifts. I bet it was horrific! Furthermore, when an athlete is easily coachable and shows extraordinary levels of kinaesthetic intelligence, it’s a great indicator as to how far she’ll go in sports.
So I’m expecting great things from my niece in the future. I really hope that she joins Track & Field as I am extremely interested in specific training toward the 100 meter sprint. With supranormal levels of talent and superior training at a young age, perhaps she’ll one day be the World’s Fastest Woman!