I suppose my background in football leaves me a great deal more cognizant of young athletes who become obsessed with the weight room and their physiques. Man, I was there, guzzling protein shakes, spending all me free time pumping iron in the weight room, flipping through body building magazines and imagining how amazing I would look in a football uniform with a body like those in the glossy photos.
From what I understand, this version of me has grown astronomically within the adolescent male population. In study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in November 2012, more than 40 percent of middle school and high school boys said they regularly worked out with the goal to increase their muscle mass; 38 percent said they used protein supplements. Those are huge numbers.
The greatest good from training time is becoming a better athlete, not a meathead who strives for size over speed, agility and power (power is not all size, it’s mass x acceleration, which means it requires speed). Big pecs and biceps are good vanity muscles for the beach, but an athlete finds their power base and performance in the hips, glutes, quads and hammies. A great athlete is going to have big time power endurance – the ability to exert their strength over a long period of time and in explosive intervals. The days of pumping iron gym rat style like Schwarzenegger are over.
Training now includes flipping tractor tires, swinging sledge hammers, mixed martial arts, battle ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls and a whole lot more. These movements build speed, power and endurance – the stuff of athletes. Size will come for the athletes who need it, such as football players. The priority is becoming a better athlete, not the big muscle kid in the school halls who is as stiff as a 2×4.