Living a healthy lifestyle is something that can make you feel better, look better and improve your overall sports performance. It is indisputable that exewrcising can help you live a healthy lifestyle. This is important for middle school students just as it is for any age. An aid to being strong and healthy that is commonly used by adults is lifting weights. However Middle schoolers lifting weights is usually contentious.
“[Weights can affect middle schoolers] differently for the individual,” said Andy Patros, the head of the ASL fitness room. “It’s about technique and managing the correct form.”
Although it can be done, ASL does not encourage heavy lifting for middle school aged kids. If a younger kid did weight routines without the correct form or lifting too heavy weights, too many times a week, then it is possible to damage growth plates. Growth plates are developing tissue that eventually turn into bones when a kid grows up. If they are damaged it could possibly stunt your growth. But, again this is only if you lift weights that are too heavy for you, or if you lift with incorrect technique.
Other injuries could come from lifting weights incorrectly, too often or too heavy in other places besides your growth plates. When lifting weights you put pressure on your joints, so it is possible to strain a joint by lifting incorrectly or too heavy. “Just as if you were playing a sport and you jump too high and twist something wrong, you’re putting extra weight on that joint or area [it could be the same] with weights.” Mr. Patros said.
Injuries can range from very serious to very minor in lifting weights just like it could be while playing a sport.
Most exercises younger kids do are bodyweight exercises like push ups, sit ups and squats, exercises that use your body weight as resistance instead of excess weights. Mr. Grant Hiller, the PE teacher of the health unit, encourages students to do body weight first because there is less risk of injuries. “First develop strength and technique under body weight and then maybe go to weights if need be,” said Mr. Hiller.
Mr. Patros agrees with Mr. Hiller and thinks that body weight exercises are good. He feels that it can build a good foundation of strength. You can take it to a different level by lifting weights, but it must be good and correct form.
Everyone must exercise with a purpose, and depending on your purpose, lifting weights may or may not be for you. If you want to become a long distance runner, you would be less inclined to lift weights because it wouldn’t help you as much as improving your cardiovascular endurance. But, if you are looking to get bulkier, stronger muscles, it could help to use weights in order to strengthen specific muscles groups. Weight lifting is the main way to do that.
Strength will help you in almost all sports that you play, but it isn’t the only physical aspect that will improve your play. Every sport also needs different types of fitness. So, if you play a sport like baseball or softball, you could strengthen specific muscle groups used for swinging by lifting weights.
However if you play soccer you might not need the same arm strength that could be achieved by lifting weights like you would in baseball or softball. It would be much less necessary.
Mr. Patros thinks that getting stronger is important, but being flexible and stretching is something that will improve your sports performance a lot. “In most of the sports that you do and also in weight training, you need to release the tension in your joints and muscles that you’ve worked out,” Mr. Patros said. Stretching does help you with flexibility, but it also helps you with strength. “You must always have a cool down and have a stretch off at the end of your sporting activities.” So if you are looking to get stronger, you must also stretch and gain flexibility.
Right now, middle school students are not allowed to use the weight room because mainly it is a health and safety issue. In addition, high school students and athletic teams have priority due to the lack of space and time sharing. With the construction underway and the new fitness room looking to be finished by the start of the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Patros said it possible that there could be a one hour a week session for motivated middle schoolers to learn the ways of the fitness room. Of course this is far away and nothing is set in stone about this. “If there is adequate supervision to make sure they’re doing the work safely, weights or no weights, I don’t see why [the current policy couldn’t be reviewed],” Mr. Hiller said.
Although middle schoolers aren’t allowed to use the weight room in their free time, for eighth graders the PE department starts to introduce it to them during the fitness unit of PE. Students learn how to use the different machines and learn exercises that help them be healthier. In some classes students will go to the fitness room, while in others they will do other things like high intensity circuit training or yoga in order to improve their fitness.
There is no defining boundary for weight training with younger kids. It is possible to get injured and possibly stunt your growth, but also you could benefit like any other adult by gaining strength. For middle school kids there is no ability to use weights at the school, but by next year all might be able to. Eighth graders will be able to use the fitness room when they are in high school, and younger middle schoolers might be able to use the new one.