Middle School Strength and Conditioning Posts

In the past few days, I have received several requests for information regarding our middle school strength and conditioning program… including its implementation, structure and curriculum.

BinghamStrengthI decided to amalgamate all of the posts into this single, hopefully easier to navigate, post. I have tried to put them in (somewhat) chronological order.

These links will also direct you to the “nuts and bolts” of our program, including philosophy, the workout card, lifting technique, videos, etc.

Here is a link to a Flipboard Magazine I put together with all of the posts :

Flipboard – Middle School Strength and Conditioning

If you have any questions, just shoot me an email… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

A year ago I wrote a post (If you build it, they will come) about a decision our school district (the Independence School District) made to add a strength and conditioning physical education class at the middle school level.

At the time there was much buzz, excitement, and some trepidation among the students, faculty and administration.

As I wrote about in this, more recent post, (The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning) the first year of the Strength and Conditioning class has been a huge success in our building.

Now, with enrollment beginning for next year, the real test is upon us. Has the class generated enough “buzz” with the current students to sustain or increase interest and enrollment for next year?

The numbers are in…

The good news

We had nearly 400 students (7th and 8th graders next year) request this class for the 2015-16 school year.

Every current 7th grader who is taking the class (56) requested it again for next year!

The challenge

Our current class structure limited the enrollment to 150 students in the class… six classes with 25 students each.

With a couple of adjustments, we were able to increase that number to 200.

I currently teach all of the Strength and Conditioning class at our school, and have six sections. We have a seven period day, and I have a plan period, so our number this year was capped at 150 students.

Next year our building is going to an eight period day (we are getting rid of our “home room” period), which will allow me to teach seven classes of Strength and Conditioning. In addition, another instructor will be teaching the class during my plan period, which will put our cap next year at 200 students (eight periods x 25 students per class).

We still have a somewhat daunting task ahead… trimming nearly half of the students who put the Strength and Conditioning class as their #1 request for Physical Education.

We feel like it is a good problem to have, and one that demonstrates our district is headed in the right direction with this class offering.

IMG_6962If your district is not offering this class, my experience this year leads me to believe you are missing the boat… this age group is physically and mentally ready to excel in a class of this type.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have regarding this class (setup, curriculum, equipment, lessons, etc) or related to any other posts on this blog… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Impact of $4

This semester I started a weekly award … the “Bingham Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Week”. Each week I pick one boy and one girl athlete (students in my class) based on a different set of criteria (some subjective, some objective) such as “best technique”, “highest pound for pound ratio”, “highest power quotient”, or “best teammate”.

For each winner, I blow up a picture of them lifting and put it in a poster frame attached to each door entering the weight room.   I also tweet a picture of each athlete standing by his or her poster. At the end of the week I give the posters to the athletes to keep.IMG_6755

It has become a very popular addition to the class. There is always a buzz on the day the new “Athlete of the Week” poster is unveiled…

  • “who got it this week?”
  • “can you let me in the weight room to see?”
  • “what was it based on?”
  • “what will the criteria be for this next week?”

You would think that I was awarding the Heisman Trophy. You can see the pride on their faces, and admiration from their classmates. The best part is when I am able to give them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

I get the posters printed at Staples. I actually got the idea from my wife who saw it on Pinterest and passed it on to me. They are called “engineer prints” and are 3’ x 2’ black and white prints that cost less than $4.

The process is simple… take a high quality jpeg, convert it to a PDF and upload it to their site… or just take the file on a thumb drive and have them print it while you wait.

But this post isn’t a plug for Staples, or about “engineer prints”.

It is about the impact that $4 can make in your program.

We don’t all have unlimited budgets… many of us are really trying to do more with less… actually on more of a “shoestring” budget than the unlimited variety.

There are many things that can be done… many great ideas out there… that don’t cost a dime (or under $4) than can have a huge impact with your students and with your program.

The thing about the Athlete of the Week posters isn’t how much or how little they cost… it is about stopping everything and making a statement and recognizing someone for doing something right… doing something well.

And the recognition isn’t just a one-time shot…

  • They get recognition when their poster gets “unveiled”,
  • They get recognition when I tweet the picture of them and their poster,
  • They get recognition each day when their classmates see their poster as they enter and leave the weight room
  • They get recognition when I “award” them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

It is just another way of saying “Good Job!” to a student and at the same time reinforcing a component or concept that you feel is important.

Every week I think to myself, “this is the best $4 I have ever spent! 

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

It is Never Easy

The other day I invited classroom teachers from my school (Bingham Middle School, Independence School District) to come down and visit my students as they worked out.

Actually, I had the students invite their teachers to come down to the weight room… sometimes a scary place for a classroom teacher… lots of noise, metal clanging, occasional shouts, etc… I told my students it was…

National Invite Your Classroom Teachers to the Weight Room to See How Hard You Work on Heavy Squat Day in Strength and Conditioning Class”, day.

OK, I made the day up, but…. we did get a few teachers to venture down to the weight room.

My purpose… I wanted their classroom teachers to see how hard these students work … daily… in this class… and I wanted them (their teachers) to see their students in a different light, and a different setting than they were used to seeing them.

One colleague who came down watched in amazement as the students worked out… and did the little things that they do daily… and do pretty much on their own.

  • Reading their workout cards
  • Calculating the weight needed to be put on the bar
  • Disciplined behavior
  • Putting the weight on the bar
  • Adjusting the rack
  • Spotting
  • Encouraging
  • Laughing
  • Working
  • Transitioning from one lift to the next
  • On task
  • Coaching one another
  • Seriously training!

These are 8th graders.

He asked “How long did it take to get them to this point?

IMG_6514It is an excellent question. At this point in the year, into the 4th quarter… the class is very low maintenance…. I am sure it appears that it is an easy class to teach… and at this point of the year, it is!   I spend very little of my day, and very little of my time each hour babysitting, redirecting, disciplining, or managing behavior. I get to spend the majority of my time teaching, coaching, and motivating.

But as you know, it does not happen all at once, or by magic. The heavy lifting (pun intended) of the class is front-loaded. I spend a great deal of time in the first 6-8 weeks on every small detail including…

After that first couple of months, it just becomes reinforcing the good stuff… fine-tuning a few things each day by constant assessment of where they are with their technique, knowledge and strength level.

At this point of the year, the class is a well-oiled machine.

It is just like the football program that makes reeling off winning seasons, conference championships, and playoff appearances look easy.

It is not easy… it is not ever easy… It is a result of hours, months and years of hard work… concentrating on every bit of minutia… every detail in the program.

Being a good teacher is hard work… being a good coach is hard work

But it is so very worth it.

If you have not had the chance, I hope can read my post from last week, The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning. If your District offers this class, kudos… if not, this may persuade you to hop on a soapbox. 

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning

Nearly a year ago I wrote about our school district’s (the Independence School District) decision to add a Strength and Conditioning class to the middle school curriculum (Efficacy and Safety-Middle School Strength Training)

When this decision was made, there were some skeptics… in the community, in the district, even among peers in our department.

Here are the concerns “They” voiced about the class…

  • “They” said that the class wouldn’t “make”… that there would not be enough interest.
  • “They” said that middle school students would get bored with this (a full year) class
  • “They” said that middle school students did not have the attention span needed for this class on a daily basis
  • “They” said that the class would not be safe at the middle school level
  • “They” said that middle school students are not physically ready for a strength and conditioning class
  • “They” said that middle school students are not mentally ready for a strength and conditioning class.

Well, after nearly a year into teaching this class, all I can say is that apparently “They” do not know these 156 students that I have had in class this year.

IMG_6721In my 30+ years of teaching, this has been one of the best, most rewarding years I have had, and it is a credit to the administrators, students and colleagues in our district and our building. These students have been nothing short of AMAZING… pretty much daily.

Regarding the above mentioned concerns… I spoke to most of these in my original post, Efficacy and Safety – Middle School Strength Training.   Regarding the interest level, attention span, or mental readiness questions, here is what I have found.

This, the first year of the class, we offered six sections… two for 7th grade and four for 8th grade… and in order to keep class sizes manageable due to space and equipment limitations, capped each class at 24 students.

IMG_6782We had over 200 7th graders initially sign up for the class, and 180 8th graders, which meant that we had to trim about 2/3 off the 7th grade list and 1/3 off the 8th grade list.   There was more than enough interest.

I ended up allowing a few more students than the capped number in case any student wanted to drop out after seeing what the class was all about… and ended up with 156 students enrolled in my classes.

Out of the 156 students originally enrolled in the class, only 2 dropped out and opted for a different PE course. I also added several students at semester that wanted to get into the course after seeing what it was all about…. The students did not get bored, they have the attention span, and there is an interest.

The nuts and bolts of the class organization can be found in my various posts on the workout program, but in a nutshell, here is some general information:

  • Typically we are in the weight room training Monday and Wednesday and every other Friday.
  • Tuesday we are in the classroom doing the Health part of our curriculum,
  • Thursday we do speed, agility, or functional strength work either outside (weather permitting) or in an area of the gym
  • Every other Friday is “Choice” day where they get to choose an activity along with all the other PE classes.
  • We have 4 “Core” lifts that we have taught and comprise the majority of our workout: Bench, Squat, Hang Clean, and Push Press
  • Each week we include 3 of the 4 lifts in the cycle and eliminate one lift, rotating the omitted lift each week, thereby having 4 different weekly combinations.
  • Each week we normally do a “change up” lift one day… clean from the floor, front squat, hang snatch, clean to push press, etc.
  • Every student has a workout card that is individualized and proscribed to them based on their current strength level… a perfect example of differentiated instruction.

I don’t want to get too long winded with this post and stray from the intent… to write about the merits of this class. If you want more information, details of the program can be found on my various posts regarding the workout program.

I also tweet daily with activities and video from the class (@youcandomore1)

My closing thoughts:

  • Some will use the “readiness” argument… that student are not physically or mentally ready to take a Strength and Conditioning class in middle school… I argue that it probably is the perfect time to introduce elements of this class
  • This class and these students have been nothing short of amazing (and I am usually not prone to hyperbole) … pretty much daily… they have handled everything that has been thrown at them, and are learning how to compete.
  • While the majority of the students in the class are athletes, there are some that are not… and they have responded equally well.
  • I do believe this class will have positive ramifications in our athletic teams at the high school level. Our students will go to high school with a good understanding of strength training concepts, techniques, and a better understanding of what it means to compete.
  • If your district does not offer this class at the middle school level, I would get on the bandwagon and lead the charge… if not it is a missed opportunity.

IMG_6526

If you have specific questions about the program or how to implement, please feel free to contact me… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com