The Longhorn Way: Strength and conditioning builds more than muscle
The “weight room.” You would be hard pressed to find another room or facility that carries as much stigma as the weight room.
No matter your experience level, we all undoubtedly have our own preconceived notions about this room and or what happens within its walls.
For many community members, that stigma probably involves a focus on athletics and moving heavy, sometimes unsafe loads of weight in an attempt to build muscle and get stronger. Such visions are usually paired with hard rock music and a coach yelling or screaming until a large vein becomes present in their forehead. Seems like a great place for kids, right!?
Let’s consider updating that vision. Like many things in life, strength and conditioning has drastically changed in the last decade. It is now a scientific profession that is detail focused and data driven. Regardless of age or ability level, everyone can benefit from a properly programmed and instructed strength and conditioning program.
As a former CCHS and collegiate athlete, I can honestly say that my training focus while participating in school and athletics was muscle gain and strength. This primary focus was really all I understood at the time and was what made sense to me.
Working out often leads to bigger and stronger muscles. However, gaining knowledge, experience and professional certifications have helped shift this focus beyond just muscle and strength gains.
Neurological and biomechanical components that include coordination, balance, speed and exercise technique all play integral parts in properly programmed workouts. These components are becoming more important than ever with technology usage beginning at earlier ages.
Science has proven that the majority of today’s youths don’t move as much or as well as kids from previous generations. Proper strength and conditioning programs can help bridge gaps that many students and athletes need in order to be successful in life and in sport.
Strength and conditioning helps create opportunities for bonding and teamwork between students. Students are often required to complete partner assisted or spotted exercises that work to improve social skills, trust in others and problem solving. Such situations allow students to build confidence, vulnerability and empathy both in oneself and in others. Many will agree that these are important qualities that all students need.
Possibly the greatest benefit of strength and conditioning programs for students and athletes is character development. Strength and conditioning is not easy. It consistently challenges students both physically and mentally. The focus and discipline that it takes day in and day out to continually achieve success is difficult. Yet, within these daily battles and struggles are where both an instructor and a student find out what a student is truly capable of.
There is no question that strength and conditioning directly impacts athletic performance. However, I hope that I am clear when I state that strength and conditioning is something that ALL students need. I am blessed to be able to work with over 150 different 7-12 students in the CCS weight room each week, many of whom are not involved in athletics and continue to show dramatic improvements.
If you still have an outdated stigma in your head, you probably believe that our high school football players produce some of the biggest improvements in the room. Yet, you might be humbled to discover that typically it is our middle school girls and boys who show the most improvement. Why? Balance, coordination, technique and confidence - all of the aspects that are often overlooked when discussing strength and conditioning programs. Strength is more than achieving bigger muscles from resistance training. Physical and mental strength develops as a product of discipline, consistency and hard work. All things I believe align with our community and educational beliefs.
I appreciate so many of you who have taken the time to both support our program and our students. If you have a student or know a student who is involved in a strength and conditioning class at CCS make sure that you continually encourage them.
Again, it is not easy and students are challenged daily. However, these challenges continue to build and mold much more than simply their physique.
These classes help instill values and traits in our students that can forever impact the rest of their lives both physically and mentally.