Strength Training For Middle School Students: A Beginner’s Guide
The first thing you need to do is decide what your goals are with regards to strength training. If you’re just starting out, it might not make sense to go all-out on any one exercise. You’ll probably want to focus on a few exercises and then build up from there.
If you have some experience under your belt, you may want to start off with a heavier routine than what most beginners would typically follow. Your goal will depend on your own personal needs.
Whatever you choose, remember that the key is consistency! You don’t want to change anything too much at first because if you do, it could affect the results that you’re getting now.
Let’s say you’ve decided that you want to improve your bench press. There are two main ways to do this:
1) Start with a lighter weight and work up over time.
This approach works well for many people. It allows them to gain confidence without having to worry about losing their hard earned muscle mass or strength gains.
2) Go heavy right away, but gradually increase the load until you reach your desired number of reps per set.
This is a more aggressive approach, but it’s also very effective for some people. You will need to be careful and make sure you’re eating enough food.
Try both of these out and see which one works best for you because the truth is, as long as you’re consistent with your training you’ll gain muscle mass and strength over time. It really just comes down to figuring out what works best for you.
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of your training, let’s talk about the exercises themselves.
The Importance of a Strong Foundation
You don’t need to be an expert on the human body in order to strength train successfully, but it definitely helps to have a basic understanding of the muscles that you’re targeting. It will also help you to prevent injury and avoid unnecessary pain.
If you’re just starting out, then your main focus should be on compound exercises that work several muscle groups at the same time.
Here are some of the best exercises for a beginner:
– The Squat
This is one of the best all-around exercises that you can do. It works several muscle groups at the same time and helps to strengthen and tone your core as well as many other areas of your body.
You should definitely be doing squats on a regular basis. It’s also one of the best exercises for preventing lower back pain because it strengthens the muscles in your lower back. This will help to prevent injuries, especially as you get stronger with the exercise. It works out your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even works your core a little bit.
It’s also one of the exercises that you’ll find in most beginner programs.
You should start with a weight that is just manageable and then add more over time as you get stronger. You don’t want to start off too heavy or you risk injury and that definitely won’t help you achieve your goals!
When doing a squats, make sure that your feet are shoulder width apart and point straight ahead. You should also be looking straight ahead as well. Keep your head up and maintain good posture. This will help you to avoid unnecessary stress on your body.
When you go to squat down, try to sit back like you’re going to sit in a chair. It should look like you’re trying to drift slightly back while sitting down. This is different from bending forward at the hip. Continue bending your knees until they’re at a 90 degree angle.
Make sure that you go all the way down and come back up.
The main thing to remember is to keep your spine aligned the entire time. It’s also important to maintain good posture and not round your back or let it hunch over as this can cause major spinal problems in the future.
When you get to the bottom of the squat, your hip crease should be just below your knees. Try to push your knees outwards while you do this exercise; this will help to tone your inner thigh area and can help to prevent knee pain in the future.
If you need to, you can place a towel underneath your heels in order to prevent yourself from sliding around. This will also make sure that you’re getting a good form during your squats.
You’re going to want to go all the way down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Avoid going any lower than that because this can put a lot of stress on your knees. You should definitely feel a good burn in your quads and possibly your glutes as well.
Do not arch your back or let it hunch over while you do the exercise. Keep good posture and maintain proper form at all times.
When you’re ready to come back up, do so in a slow and controlled manner. Just as with going down, come back up by first pushing your knees outward and then straightening your legs. Make sure that you don’t “jump” out of the squat or you could cause yourself some injury. Ending the movement with your thighs perpendicular to the ground at the top to ensure that you’ve completed one repetition.
Most people have a tendency to lean forward so you’ll need to keep an eye on that. It’s very common especially for people that have a bad back and tend to hunch over. You need to concentrate and focus on keeping a straight line from your head to your hips. Also, make sure that you push your knees apart as this will give you better stability and help you to maintain proper form as well.
Always remember to take a break in between each set.
How many sets and how many repetitions should I do?
A general guideline would be: 3 sets of 10 reps. Although you may need to adjust this slightly depending on your fitness goals and stamina.
If you’re doing your squats in front of a mirror, you should see a nice straight line from your head to your hips as you perform the movement. Watch yourself in the mirror and fix your posture if necessary by keeping your head up and keeping your knees apart. This may feel a bit strange at first, but it will help you to keep from leaning forward which could lead to injury.
The first time you do this, you will most likely only do a single set and that first time may very well be the last time if you can’t handle it.
The third set should be the most difficult and leave you feeling like you’re going to fall over and possibly result in some minor muscle breakdown (very, very minor).
If you’re extremely fit, then you may want to do four sets or go for a full 30 minute session.
For instance, someone who is very out of shape and overweight may need to start with a lower number of reps and work their way up. On the other hand, someone who is in good physical condition can probably do a higher number of reps right from the beginning.
If you’re unsure about how to adjust the repetitions just ask your doctor or personal trainer or look it up online.
Where can I find a squat rack?
You don’t necessarily need one in order to do squats as long as you have a barbell and enough weight plates. You could also use a Smith machine or the corner of a table or anything else that you may be able to improvise.
But if you want to actually use proper squat rack, these are available at most local gyms that have a decent amount of equipment.
You just need to ask the front desk about it and they can lead you to it if you don’t know where it is already.
This may even be available at your local high school or college gym if you have one in your area. Typically, these are free to use as long as you’re a member at a local gym.
What kind of weight should I use?
The weight that you use will ultimately be up to you.
There is no right or wrong answer, however, it’s usually recommended that you start with a low weight (10-20 pounds for men, depending on your strength and how you’re built. For women, this would be 5-15 pounds) and work your way up each week. This will ensure that you don’t get injured and that you are able to handle the exercise without straining yourself too much.
Ideally, you want to be able to do at least 5 repetitions for each set with good form before moving up in weight.
What if I’m not strong enough to lift a barbell?
In the case that you can’t lift the weight without help, there are other ways that you can perform this exercise.
There are assist machines that will allow you to lift the bar without needing any help.
If there are no assist machines available and you know of a friend who can help you, have them spot you as you lift the weight. This means that they stand next to you and put their hands on the bar to make sure that it doesn’t fall on you if your strength gives out.
If there are no assist machines and no friends available to help you, you can still do the exercise without a spotter. You just need to set the bar down every rep and that can really extend your workout time. Basically, you’ll be doing half the work for double the time. Of course, you could always find someone else who wants to work in with you.
It’s all up to you.
What if I’ve never lifted weights before?
First of all, don’t worry. Weights are not something that you need to be skilled at from the get go. In fact, it’s better if you’re not skilled at them when you start out so that you don’t get hurt.
That being said, there are still some precautions that you should take if you’ve never lifted weights before.
The first is that you should start out with much lower weight than you think you can handle. This is especially important for women as they may be much weaker than they think.
If you’re unsure about your strength, it’s best to ask someone at your gym for help or look online to see how much other people your size and gender are lifting on average so that you know where to start.
It’s also very important that you don’t try to rush into things. Take your time and work your way up. Don’t try to lift a weight that is too heavy for you. Not only will you be more prone to getting injured, but you won’t be able to do as many reps which means it won’t be as effective in building muscle.
As long as you take it slowly and use lighter weights until you feel more comfortable lifting them, you shouldn’t feel intimidated by free weights at all.
Won’t I get “bigger” from lifting weights?
While it is true that you can build muscle if you were to lift weights that are too heavy for you, this really isn’t something that you should be worrying about at all when you first start out.
Remember that big and strong are not the same thing! You don’t need to work on building mass right now. You need to be working on strength and that takes practice.
The good news is that you don’t have to be worried about suddenly looking like the hulk. Without the right diet, you probably won’t even gain that much muscle mass even if you try. And as a beginner, it’s going to take you a very long time to get strong enough to do real damage anyway.
If you ever get to a point where you are very advanced and have a lot of time into lifting, and you still really want to bulk up, then you can start worrying about eating a little more and doing a little more focusing on building muscle. But that’s stuff for later on in your journey!
The important thing right now is that you should try to focus less on how your body looks and more on how it can perform. Think about strength and power, not size!
Why I don’t need to worry about “bulking up” right now.
Are you sure this is safe?
As with most things in life, there is some risk involved in strength training. This is especially true when first starting out as your body is still learning what it’s capable of and breaking itself down before it can rebuild stronger.
While injuries are actually fairly uncommon with strength training, there are some things you can do to lower the chances of hurting yourself:
Always warm up first! This means doing something that gets the blood flowing and your muscles ready to work. This could be anything from jumping jacks to walking on the spot. Warming up will also make the rest of your workout feel better and even safer by reducing strain on the muscles.
Always make sure to stretch afterwards as well! You can find a whole bunch of great stretches to do both before and after your workout in the Zen to Fitness Beginner’s Guide.
Also, make sure you’re properly hydrated at all times when you’re working out. This is really important when you’re doing strength training since you’ll be putting yourself under a lot of physical stress and your body will get dehydrated faster.
Most importantly, pay attention to how your body feels while you’re lifting. If something doesn’t feel right, then put the weight down and don’t lift it again for that day. It’s okay to skip a day every now and then.
If you’re really worried that strength training is just not for you, then I highly recommend that you at least try a few sessions with a personal trainer who can work with you to get you started on the right track and make sure that you don’t hurt yourself.
If you can’t afford a personal trainer, you can try looking for free fitness sessions in your area. A lot of gyms and high schools will offer free or low cost personal training sessions as a way of promoting their business. If you’re in college, there’s a good chance that your school offers these types of services to the student population.
The important thing is to just not to let the fear of getting hurt hold you back. If you do decide to work with a personal trainer, just make sure that they aren’t a bodybuilder who is going to have you doing tons of mass building exercises. Look for a trainer who has more of a strength training or athletic trainer background instead.
And if you’re really worried about spending money on a trainer, then I would definitely recommend that you at least look for some online resources to help get you started in the right direction.
If you’re really set on learning more about how to safely do the exercises on your own, then you can always reference one of the many exercise manuals that cover the basics. This one by Lawrence Armstrong is regarded as one of the best.
But for now, let’s get to work!
What exercises should I do?
For your first workout I’d like you to keep it really simple and just do squats and bench presses.
Once again, keep the weight at a level that you feel is challenging for you. If you’re really struggling with a certain weight then increase it the next time you do that exercise (but always try to keep increasing it gradually!)
Also, make sure to rest in between each set. Let’s say you’re going to be doing 5 sets of 5 reps for your bench press. That means that you’ll be doing a total of 25 reps for that set. You should take a 1-2 minute break between each set to make sure that you’re fully recovered and not pushing yourself too hard.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how your first workout should go:
Barbell Squat: 2 sets of 5 reps (5 sets in total) Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps (5 sets in total)
As I mentioned earlier, after you’ve finished the first two exercises take a 1-2 minute break before starting your next set. After you’ve finished your last set, take a 3-5 minute break before starting your first set of barbell squats.
Make sure that you’re properly warmed up and cooled down as well. I’d also like you to take some time to do some ab work (about 5 minutes or so) to focus on your core. (Here’s a simple ab routine that you can perform once a week)
Don’t forget that proper nutrition is important too. I’d like you to try to eat about .8 grams of protein per pound that you weigh. As for the rest of your calories, I’d have you split them up into about 75% healthy carbs and about 20% fat, and 5% protein.
If you’re having a hard time eating all of that, then just up your protein intake a bit and reduce your carbs and fat a bit until you’re able to stuff all of that food down.
For instance, if you weigh 180 pounds then your diet might look something like this:
180 grams of protein (That’s 360 calories right there)
180 grams of Carbs (That’s 270 calories)
45 grams of fat (That’s 225 calories)
Totaling 720 calories a day. As you progress, as long as your gaining weight and strength, you can increase the amount of calories.
And as for your supplements, here’s what I have you taking:
As you can see, a pretty straightforward supplements. You shouldn’t have any problems with them at all, but if you do, you can let me know and we can adjust things a bit.
Alright Mark, I’m ready to go!
Awesome, I’m really excited to be working with you on this project!
As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to have you send me your workouts every day that you complete them. I’m going to give you a week to learn these exercises and get used to them before I have you start pushing yourself a bit harder and really start making progress.
Your first week is going to be a little light just so I can monitor your form on everything and make sure that you’re able to fully complete all of the exercises without any problems.
Once your form is good and you’re completing all of the sets and reps with ease then we’ll start pushing a little bit harder each week. The following weeks are going to be a little bit different for you because we’ve got to take into account that you’re also going to be playing in a tournament that weekend.
Weeks 2-6 are going to have to be a little more laid back than the previous weeks because your body is not going to have the time it needs to properly recover and get stronger.
Let me explain.
You’ll be training Monday through Friday every week. We’ll take Sunday’s off since I don’t want you training when you have a big tournament coming up. We’re going to alternate your off days though. On weeks 2 and 4 you’re going to have Tuesday and Thursday off.
Weeks 3 and 5 you’ll have Monday and Wednesday off. And weeks 6 and 7 you’re going to have Sunday and Tuesday off.
We’ll throw in an extra day of rest if you need it and we’re going to take every third week off from training completely to give your body a long term break. This might seem like a lot of down time but it’ll actually be good for you to get this extra rest so your body can heal up, especially since a few of your tournaments are going to be pretty taxing on your body.
Finally, the last 4 weeks are going to be the heavy duty training weeks. By this time, you should have made enough progress that you’re ready to start pushing yourself a little harder and we need your body to be at it’s best to prepare you for the different events that you’ll be training for.
In these 4 weeks we’re going to gradually warm up and work our way up to more intense workouts and practices. This will culminate in you being able to do 100 pushups in a single set, 100 situps in a single set, run 2 miles in under 12 minutes, and swim 1000 meters in under 20 minutes. It’s a lot to get done but we have 4 weeks to get it done so I know you can do it.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m always available to talk.
Good luck kid.
P.S. I’ve also set up a meeting with the school’s navy seal instructor, so don’t be surprised if you have to do some extra training before your classes start.
Mark seems pretty confident that I’ll be able to handle all of this training he’s about to throw at me. It would appear that he’s already got a lot of my schedule planned out as well.
But like he said, I’m a fast learner and I’m more than willing to put in the work so I’m sure that it won’t be a problem.
I just sent him a message saying that I’m ready to get started whenever he is.
I guess I’ll find out soon enough if I really have what it takes to be a spy.
Wish me luck.
July 15th, 20XX
I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.
The bad news is that I’m writing this because things didn’t go so well for me in the long run. The good news is that I only have myself to blame and nobody else. I still can’t believe that I was so stupid to get myself killed like that. Now I’m going to be dead and no good to anyone.
At least I now know that my hunch was right and someone other than my parents were involved in my kidnapping.
I’m probably not going to win any awards for this but I’ve decided that I’m not going to tell the whole story in here, there’s some things that should just stay secret and this is one of them. I’m already putting down more than enough information that could potentially get me or others in trouble.
Besides, they’ve probably already classified all of this information by now anyway.
I’m not going to say that my death was in vain or that I want everyone to think of me as some sort of hero. Quite the contrary, I’m actually glad I died when I did because it gave me a chance to finally get out of the program. Everyday that I stayed in that program, I lost just a little bit more of myself. Maybe it was due to the crappy food, or maybe they were brainwashing us, or something else entirely, but whatever the reason, I was slowly changing into someone that I wasn’t.
And that’s not even counting the fact that I died and now get to cross over into the shadow realm just to watch over my family as an eternal guardian, which is a pretty sweet deal if you think about it.
I guess this is where my story ends. Thanks for listening.
Are you ready?”
the goblin assassin asks me.
“I suppose I am,” I say examining my recently acquired firearms.
I’ve got two pistols on my hips and a shotgun under my cloak. The cloak is specially designed to be used by shadow guards. It helps us blend in more easily with the night. Unfortunately, due to the massive nature of the training exercise, we won’t be able to use our signature cloaks at all.
“Don’t worry; you’re probably going to feel a little sick for the first couple of missions, but you’ll get used to it. Just try to keep up,” he says.
The goblin assassin extends his hand and I firmly grasp it. He begins to raise from the floor, but I don’t. Then, he levitates me as well. Soon, the both of us are hovering a few feet above the ground.
“This way,” he says.
We head towards a wall, which parts ways as we approach it. On the other side is a long, dark corridor. The walls are pulsating with energy, and I feel as though my life force is being slowly drained just by being here.
the goblin asks.
“I suppose,” I say.
He looks at me and then rolls his eyes. The door opens as soon as he gets close to it, and we walk inside. There, a large blue skinned orc stands there with piercings all over his face. By the size of him, I’m guessing he’s a warrior.
Behind him are multiple tubes, and inside these I see a few figures floating in a blue goo of some kind.
Are they dead?”
I ask worriedly.
“No, they’re in stasis. They’re not dead, and won’t start dying until their timer runs out,” the orc says.
He walks over to the tube and presses a button which opens it. A human figure slowly starts rising up from the tube.
“Hmm, maybe you were right. Maybe I did infuse the subject with too much of my essence. Looks like he’s got a long tongue now,” the orc jokes.
The figure starts taking form, and sure enough he has a very long tongue, which hangs out of his mouth. His eyes are still closed, but he’s clearly a human in every other regard. The orc presses another button, which opens all of the tubes.
All of the figures starting rising up. A large majority of them are humans, but I also see an orc, a dwarf, an elf and even a few creatures I’ve never seen before. They’re all the same though. As soon as they start taking form, they get filled with life, and a loud scream emanates throughout the room.
The newly created Necromancers look around in a panic.
Wh…where am I? What’s going on?
!”, one of the humans says looking very confused.
“Erm, hello fellow Necromancer brethren! We’ve been called upon to serve the Empire today!” the orc says with a big grin.
What? What’s going on?”
another human says.
Ugh, do we need to repeat the process?
We really should keep better records of this. Oh well, it doesn’t matter, the important thing is we’ve created an entire army that’s ready to serve the Empire!” the orc exclaims.
The orc, whose name is Ruzmar by the way, was originally a laborer working for the Orc Corps of Purity in the city of Varandal. He was a very calm individual ordinarily, but he had a tendency to get cranky when he ran out of beer. One day, while working on the docks unloading ships, he found one of the shipments to contain various bits of human bodies. After complaining to his superiors about this ghoulish violation of the Law of Hospitality, he was betrayed by one of his cronies who complained about his habit of running out of beer.
The orc was brought to the top of a tall building, with the intent being to throw him off it for bringing disrepute to the Corps. In a panic he grabbed hold of the guy next to him who also betrayed him and in a moment of desperation, he bit his tongue off and swallowed it. He didn’t believe he’d actually do it, but when faced with death he found some inner reserve of willpower deep within him that let him do it.
That reserve of willpower somehow managed to turn him into what you see before you now. He’s been under orders from Kelium to create an army of Necromancers in order to help with the war effort, and he’s been doing a bang up job. It’s odd, but despite essentially being human, he managed to take on some orc-like qualities. He’s grown taller and his face is now a bit more masculine.
His former subordinates have also changed as well. All of them are better coordinated and have greater strength due to their new bodies.
But there’s one thing that still doesn’t make sense”, Ruzmar says out loud, “If you’re all Necromancers now, who’s going to be raising the dead for the Empire?”
The newly created Necromancers look around at each other puzzled. Suddenly, undead minotaurs, elves and humans rise up from the ground in the room. They immediately go to work, with some going to guard the lab and others going to assist in the war effort.
“We are!” the newly created Necromancers say in unison.
“Well I’ll be…”, Ruzmar says in an impressed tone of voice.
Sources & references used in this article:
Here’s how to do stuttering therapy by GJ Rentschler – 2011 – books.google.com
Here’s how to do early intervention for speech and language: Empowering parents by KL Searcy – 2011 – books.google.com
Here’s Looking at You, PETE: A Profile of Physical Education Teacher Education Faculty. by MW Metzler, MS Freedman – Journal of Teaching in Physical …, 1985 – search.ebscohost.com
Your Diet Is Not Normal: Here’s Why by C Marker – breakingmuscle.com
Effective strength training: Analysis and technique for upper-body, lower-body, and trunk exercises by D Brooks – 2001 – books.google.com
Strength training for women by L Incledon – 2005 – books.google.com
Strength Training for Pitchers by E Cressey – ericcressey.com
Here’s how to treat childhood apraxia of speech by M Fish – 2015 – books.google.com
The SM rap—or, here’s the rap on self-monitoring by JL Rankin, R Reid – Intervention in School and Clinic, 1995 – journals.sagepub.com