PLT4M Essay Contest Finalist – Jenna Larson

PLT4M hosted an essay contest for students across the country. Check out the full prompt here.

We asked students: In less than 750 words, you have to convince ‘Sedentary Industries’ that physical education is important to you. Why does physical activity and fitness matter to you?

We received hundreds of submissions and are now down to the finalists.

Congrats to Jenna Larson from Canton High School in Massachusetts for being a finalist!

Jenna's Essay

I love sweating. Well, no, I don’t really. Let me rephrase: I love knowing I just worked so hard on something that my shirt is a completely different color. If I’m going to put myself through the misery of working out, I might as well give it my very best. Now I don’t necessarily think every kid should be forced into a strenuous workout every day at school, however I think everyone should learn the feeling of accomplishment you get after exercise.

One of the most important things for students especially to remember is that a great workout doesn’t only come from running a mile or doing fifty pushups. Some of the best and most fun workouts I’ve ever done have come from hiking, spinning, and dancing.

The more variety schools have in their physical education programs, the more kids will find things they actually enjoy doing. One of my favorite ways to get a good sweat in is by doing zumba. I did it for the first time in gym class at school and now frequently do it in my house when I feel like getting my blood flowing during the week.

This is something I’ll keep doing far after my high school life ends. Physical Education in schools can help kids find something they like to keep them active when they aren’t forced to do something for an hour at school.

My best memories of working out come from my summer workouts with my dad. Every summer we train for my upcoming volleyball season at my school’s track and field. We get some music going on a speaker and run a mile at most (sometimes we give up after two laps.) After that, we grab our volleyball and pass around for almost an hour. In between we do some strengthening work, but volleyball is the best part. On the summer evenings when it’s not unbearably hot, we feel like we never want to leave. Why would we when we’re doing something fun together that we know is good for us? Even on the unbearably hot mornings, we want to power through and do everything because we know an iced coffee and a day of opportunities are right in front of us.

Working out with a positive mindset can change who you are for the rest of your day. Having that mindset every time and being consistent with exercise can change who you are for the rest of your life. I’m inspired by the people around me who put their health first and take care of themselves all the time. My brother is one of the biggest gym rats I know. Any free hour he can find, he spends at the gym. Even he likes trying new things even if they’re challenging. Once, my sister, and I went to a spin class together. Like I said, he is one of the most in-shape people I know, and he was far more sore than my sister and I were the next day. He didn’t realize how hard it would be, but he tried it anyway. That’s what students in schools should be doing. They should be exploring the world of fitness and finding out what works best for them. Maybe they’ll do yoga, run marathons, dance around in their rooms. Whatever it is, they should be encouraged to try everything and not be afraid to break a sweat.

EP29

Chalk Talk – Episode 29 – Hypertrophy & All Things Muscle Growth

Chalk Talk - Episode 29 - Hypertrophy & All Things Muscle Growth

We hear hypertrophy and think of ‘bulking up.’ On this episode of Chalk Talk, we take a dive into rep ranges, intensity, and where to look for hypertrophy in the weight room.

Coach Breslin helps break down what muscle growth can look like for high school athletes and how coaches can help foster athletes’ development through strength and conditioning.

Time Stamps: 
Part 1: The Strength Endurance Continum  
  • Hypertrophy – Simply Put – ‘Muscle Growth’ (1:00- 4:00)
  • Inducing Hypertrophy – Rep Ranges and Work Done (4:00 – 9:55)
  • Examples In The Weight Room – The Highlighter Example (9:55 -13:30)
  • Rep Ranges On A Spectrum (13:30 – 16:55)
Part 2:Bulking Up – Myths Of The Muscle 
  • ‘Bulk’ – Some People Want It- Some People Fear It (18:00 – 22:05)
  • One Step Up, Or One Step Down- Consider Genetics And Nutrition (22:05 – 24:40)
  • Fear Of Bulking Up (24:40 – 27:30)
  • Think About The Athlete – Not About The Appearance  (27:30- 33:36)
Here’s how to make sure you never miss an episode:
  • Rate & review us to tell us what you’re loving and help us to reach more listeners.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on Chalk Talk updates. Use use #PLT4MChalkTalk to connect with us!

Have an idea or topic you would like us to cover? Feel free to send us along a suggestion!

Cross Country Training

Strength Training For Cross Country Athletes

Osburn Park_Justin Contois

Meet The Author: Justin Contois

  • Health and PE Teacher
  • Head Cross Country and Tennis Coach
  • Masters in Nutrition Education, CF-1
  • Coaches Club Ambassador

Strength Training For Cross Country Athletes

High school cross country consists of hill runs, fartlek runs, long runs, and 800-meter repeats on grass. What many coaches and athletes don’t consider to be a part of cross country is strength training. 

 As a former personal trainer and CrossFit enthusiast, I knew what it took to get a strong and powerful core through strength work. As a runner and as a coach, I wanted to use these same principles with my cross-country athletes.  

Core Lifts For Core Muscles

Starting this year, I encouraged my cross-country runners to sign-up for my weight training class, where we used PLT4M and its programs to increase the strength of our student body. 

Running requires strong core muscles. By ‘core muscles’ I mean glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. These core muscles are used for the punishing uphills and downhills that a cross country runner may encounter. 

Basic or ‘core lifts’, such as the back squat, bench, and clean, all provided the student-athletes with an opportunity to strengthen the powerhouse of the body: the core muscles.  Our workouts consisted of the basic lifts along with auxiliary lifts, such as the dumbbell step-up, the weighted lunge, and inverted row. 

In completing our workouts two to three times a week we had a massive improvement in our times and our ability to attack our races. I’ll explain more in a bit!

Request a demo to see how PLT4M can help you incorporate strength training for your team!

Core Work

As an added bonus to the PLT4M workouts, I added in an 8-minute core workout during each class to further enhance athlete’s balance and stability. Arched body holds, hollow body holds, and super dogs were consistently used to supplement lifts.  

In addition to our runners taking my class during school hours, I wanted to incorporate elements of strength training for all my runners during practice. I went out and purchased a great tool called the Hip Halo and trained our runners on how to strengthen their posterior chain and many of the deep muscles and stabilizers in the core. We have utilized this tool during most practices throughout the fall.  

Core Principle – Strength Train

As it turns out, all this strength training and a new-found love for hills (OK, maybe that’s just me talking), has given us the results we haven’t seen in years. The girls team consistently finished on the podium at meets and ended up making it to the Virginia Cross Country State Championship meet. The boys also had a successful season and reached the podium in a race for the first time since 2012.  

As a first-year head coach of our cross-country team (having also been part of the program for three years as an assistant), I know that strength training was the missing link to our success. 

EP28

Chalk Talk – Episode 28 – Keep Lifting Simple Feat. Kosta Telegadas

Chalk Talk - Episode 28 - Keep Lifting Simple feat. Kosta Telegadas

Keep lifting simple. Keep lifting engaging. You can do both at the same time.

Kosta Telegadas comes onto the podcast to talk about how simple can be engaging. He talks about how our focus should be on effectiveness, not keeping up with the flavor of the month for lifting from Twitter.

Time Stamps: 
Part 1: High School Athletes – Know Your Audience 
  • Cleaning Things Up – Keeping It Simple ( 1:00-4:13)
  • Supersets for Engagement (4:13-8:55)
  • Space –  “# of Racks” (8:55 – 11:36)
  • Finishers Bring People Together (11:36 – 16:30)
  • 8th Graders and Progressions (16:30 – 19:07)
  • Weight Rooms Are Not Required – Needs To Be Worth Coming Back (19:07 -22:38)
  • Russian Rule of 3 – Avoiding The Rush To Specialize ( 22:38 – 26:10)
Part 2: The Total Student-Athlete (Life Happens) 
  • You Only Get Kids For An Hour, What Else Is Going On (27:10 – 30:10)
  • Be Understanding, Keeping People In The Loop (30:10 – 34:04)
  • Building Confidence, Setting Kids Up For Success (34:04 –  38:20)
Here’s how to make sure you never miss an episode:
  • Rate & review us to tell us what you’re loving and help us to reach more listeners.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on Chalk Talk updates. Use use #PLT4MChalkTalk to connect with us!

Have an idea or topic you would like us to cover? Feel free to send us along a suggestion!

PLT4M Essay Contest Finalist – Alma Jones

PLT4M hosted an essay contest for students across the country. Check out the full prompt here.

We asked students: In less than 750 words, you have to convince ‘Sedentary Industries’ that physical education is important to you. Why does physical activity and fitness matter to you?

We received hundreds of submissions and are now down to the finalists.

Congrats to Alma Jones from Jordan High School in Utah for being a finalist!

Alma's Essay

Dear ‘Sedentary Industries’ , 

INTRODUCTION

Regarding the recent headquarters being built in Sandy, and the policies you wish to enact about the removal of physical activity and fitness from the high school experience. I would briefly like to cover why that may be a bad idea on your part, and the negative implications it may impose on the students. Throughout this letter, I’m going to be discussing the direct impact physical activity has on brain function and how it governs the retention of knowledge.

SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

Physical activity has many positive impacts on the brain and how it functions. A study from the California Department of Education has shown that students with higher fitness scores consequently have higher test scores. This is because exercise primes the brain to learn quicker. Another study was also done that showed that students who did HIIT (high-intensity interval training) prior to learning vocabulary could do so 20% quicker than the other sedentary students. 

Now let’s talk about something called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (aka BDNF). BDNF is a protein in the brain. In order for us to learn, the brain needs to modify its cellular infrastructure to allow the firing of neurons to happen more easily. BDNF itself stimulates neuron growth, and how well they function, not to mention it helps strengthen neurons to protect against the process of cell death. Why am I talking about this, you may ask? BDNF is released through exercise and movement. It is the link between the brain and the body. To simplify, more exercise means more BDNF, more BDNF means better performance in school. 

ARCHAIC HISTORY

The Lives of our ancestors compared to our modern era, were much different than life today. When our ancestors were subjected to physical activity, it was merely for the sake of survival. Movement stimulates that something important is happening, and survival was extremely important. When we’re sedentary, it’s signaling to our bodies that we’re safe and that nothing important is happening. Sitting in a classroom all day without physical activity signals our bodies that nothing important is happening, therefore, there’s no need to retain information. 

NEGATIVE IMPLICATIONS/CLOSING

Removing physical education from high school may be the last thing you may want to do if you have the students best interest at heart. Doing so would be a huge disservice to high schoolers now, and highschoolers to come. The removal of physical activity WILL HINDER the development of the students, and I strongly urge you to reconsider your stance on this situation. I believe you guys will do the right thing. 

Yours Sincerely,

Alma Jones 

EP27

Chalk Talk – Episode 27 – Maxes, Percentages, & Worksets – Programming Weights

Chalk Talk - Episode 27 - Maxes, Percentages, & Worksets - Programming Weights

Maxes, and Percentages, and Worksets, Oh My! We discuss all of the considerations that go into prescribing appropriate weights and reps to athletes throughout training. 

Check out Coach Jeff Lindeman’s article mentioned in the podcast.

Time Stamps: 
Part 1: High School Athletes – Know Your Audience 
  • Resistance Training – Percentage Approach vs Rep Ranges (1:00 – 7:00) 
  • Efficiency In Weight Room – Giving Basic Guidelines With Maxes (7:00 – 12:20) 
  • Goal For The Day – Being Clear and Communicate To Athletes (12:20 -18:30) 
  • APRE – Autoregulated Progressive Resistance Exercises (18:30 -25:00) 
Part 2: The Deadlift 
  • The King Of All Strength Exercises, That Being Said…Know Your Audience ( 26:00 – 30:00) 
  • Easier To Keep Kids In Check, Limit DL Weight (30:00 – 34:00) 
  • Start Somewhere In Programming, But Have Structure Not A Blank Slate (34:00 – 36:16)
Here’s how to make sure you never miss an episode:
  • Rate & review us to tell us what you’re loving and help us to reach more listeners.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on Chalk Talk updates. Use use #PLT4MChalkTalk to connect with us!

Have an idea or topic you would like us to cover? Feel free to send us along a suggestion!