By Matt Palmer
Weight training has become a year-round activity for most high school athletes.
And for most junior high athletes as well.
Enid High School strength and conditioning coach Keith Lea said most athletes now begin learning techniques and lifting as early as seventh grade.
The early training helps them add strength and endurance to the muscle they already have, allowing athletes to last longer in games, matches or whatever event in which they are involved.
EHS trainer Rob Kappus said physical maturity more than age dictates how and when an athlete can weight train.
“When a kid hits puberty, the body starts to produce testosterone, and that’s when you can start adding muscle,” Lea said. “Some kids don’t hit puberty until they’re in the ninth grade.”
Which sports an athlete plays also dictates what type of training program they should use.
Track runners, Lea said, spend more time on endurance and strength training than building more muscle, while football players usually want to bulk up.
Basketball, on the other hand, requires a medium between building muscle mass and improving endurance because of how physical the sport has become, Lea said.
But when do athletes have time to really weight train?
“For sports, it goes by off-seasons,” Lea said. “In season, you want to maintain what you’ve developed during the off season.
“Once your season’s over, you need a little rest period. Then you can go into your heavier weightlifting period when you can put some bulk on.”
Nowadays, the off-season training period is almost a must to stay competitive.
“Off-season is a unique program that the atmosphere is such that you’re going to get bigger, faster and stronger.”
Kappus said he rarely has to treat injuries caused from weight lifting, and said adult supervision is key to preventing injuries.