Getting out of bed in the morning is tough to do during the week. For some Waterloo High School students, they make it even harder on themselves.
An early bird weight training class at WHS is offered before school meets.
“A lot of what we do consists around form and technique,” teacher Dan Rose said of his class.
Rose, who is also the head football coach at WHS, was hired in 2000 and wanted to bring a better weight training program to the school. He said it started out with three classes of 12-13 students per class. Now it has grown to 10 classes with about 40 students per session.
The early bird class meets at 6:45 a.m. and runs until about 7:35 a.m. to give students about 10 minutes to change back into their clothes for the day. Rose said the morning class developed because a lot of kids simply do not have time to lift weights after school.
“Studies show that kids, and adults for that matter, that work out first thing have a higher metabolism,” Rose said. “They have higher brain function as well throughout the day.”
The class in the morning is made up of primarily athletes. After about the first month, the students are basically able to run the class themselves. Obviously, Rose or another teacher is present at all times and is always there to help with technique.
“There’s a good mix of kids in here,” Rose said. “They’re responsible for spotting. They’re responsible for changing weights. They’re responsible for keeping their group moving. They’re responsible for keeping their records with lifting. That’s a thing kids need to learn how to do, so they’ll know where to start every time they come in.”
Being able to keep records of their own weight training results allows the students to see their own development. It also makes it easier to remember how much weight they can lift for each exercise.
Rose said that they follow the “five-pound rule.”
“Kids are not supposed to put more than a five-pound advancement on the bar — per set or per repetition,” Rose said. “They can’t just come in and pound on the weight. That’s where you get injuries.”
The program Rose follows is called “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” and was developed in 1974.
“This is a program that has been well-tested and researched,” Rose said. “They’re still researching it. They’re still adapting things to the program to benefit kids.”
The class operates on a four-week cycle — each week they do a different number of repetitions per set.
In the first week, they start out doing three sets of three reps. The next week, they do three sets of five.
In the third week, things get a bit trickier. They do a set of 5-3-1. During the fourth week, they do a set of 10-8-6. For these last two weeks, they add more weight for each number of repetitions.
Rose said the class benefits athletes of all sports because all sports use hip extensions. The fundamentals of the class are listed in big black lettering on a poster hanging on a wall in the weight room.
Rose pointed to the poster and gave a rundown of what the fundamentals are for the weightlifting program.
“Athletic to jump stance. Knees tall. Spread the chest. Toes align. Knees align. Eyes on target,”
Rose said. “Each of those six absolutes convert into every single sport. All sports are going to center around hip extensions. That hip extension is coached in this room and those six absolutes are on the core lifts that we do. We’re working to develop kids athletically in this class.”
Colton Henry, a senior, is in the early bird class this year. He said he has taken the weight training class for all four years of high school. Henry played left tackle on the football team this season. In the spring, he will throw discus and shot put for the track team.
“It’s good to come in here and work out,” Henry said. “A lot of times you don’t have time after school, so you can come in here during the day.”
Henry said he started weightlifting in eighth grade, but Rose has helped with his progress in high school.
“It’s a lot different,” Henry said. “Coach Rose is really good at teaching you how to weightlift properly and how to bulk up over a four-year period.”
Henry is just one of the 40 or so students who gets up early for the class. For every student there, Rose pointed toward them and named the sport or sports he or she played.