Take one sheet of plywood, one ruler, a measuring tape, a jigsaw, a 51mm holesaw, a pencil and some sandpaper. Then add a bit of patience and another trip to B&Q after you fuck up the size on your first attempt, you have two bumper plates weighing approx 1.5kgs each, though I’ll have to stick them on the scales tonight to see. That’s right, yesterday I spent my bank holiday making wooden bumpers for lifting. They’re ideal for a few reasons. The biggest diameter plates we have are only 400mm and Olympic standard is 450mm, those plates are also 20kgs, which means that we have to use the small plates and pads to raise the bar for Olympic lifts. I actually made mine 500mm as I can clean a decent enough weight and I wanted to make sure that there was good clearance so that the metal of the 20kg plate we have didn’t hit the ground.
In other DIY news I had a chance to sit down and have a look at the teenager’s class test scores. They made for some interesting reading, particularly in the overhead squat test which I would have thought they’d score well in, or at least better than their adults counterparts. The opposite was true. The functional test showed up some massive imbalances, weaknesses and flexibility issues. I queried some people in the know about the results and they said that their experience with teenagers was roughly similar. Kids these days (oh yeah, we’re into Joe Duffy terminology) are sedentary, spent a lot of time in the seated position, and many children’s only exposure to what in sport are simple movements is in the sport itself. Take single leg balancing. That was a massive part of your childhood (if you’re 30 or so). You walked on walls, played hopscotch, skipped, played lots of street football and so on, so when you went to your chosen sport that evening, you had spent your day doing things that strengthened your ankles, knees, hips and had ingrained good movement into your body. Now a kid goes to school (usually by getting dropped in the car), has to walk in the playground (litigation has meant that many schools have had to ban running, chasing etc.), then gets picked up (in the car), then gets home and stays in (green areas in new housing estates are nice looking, but not open), plays Xbox and then goes to his or her sporting activity. It’s not difficult to see why many basic anatomical movements would be lacking. Of course then as adults we fail to see why the 2 hours of formal exercise we bring them to each week desn’t seem to cutting it, or worse, we think as long as they get dropped off at football/gymnastics/badminton for 2 hours a week then we’re all fine.
That’s not all kids of course and I wouldn’t suggest that it was. My own test group of 10 the other night showed that up. Some kids scored high with weaknesses and tightness you would expect from anyone, but some scored as low as you can without giving a zero due to poor movement skills. I have a friend who does a similar job to me and he just gives out and doesn’t do anything to correct the problems. His contention is that they’re just little shits and they should just get with the programme. It’s a tempting hypothesis I’ll admit, but tests like the overhead squat show that it’s not just a problem with laziness or kid’s attitudes, but a real movement problem. If I adopted the ‘little shits’ attitude, it would also mean I dind’t have to fix it. I could just blindly plug away, shaking my head at the end of each session and giving out about the youth of today. Again, tempting, I like the thought of doing that because I’d have to do fuck all work. But no, I have this thing: some call it professional pride, some call it a work ethic but I just call it Gerald. Gerald won’t let me stop trying. One of my aims with youth training is to provide them with movement skills and that ingrained love of fitness and keeping healthy. They may do combat sports for 2 years, 20 years or 2 months, but if I can start something with them that keeps them coming back to sport then I will have done something better than just taught them how to kick or pin someone down.
The strength scores were different and I was pleasantly surprised with some of the results. Without going into too much detail, the ‘traditional’ exercises scored well- standing long jump and push ups, but the less trad ones scored lower- pull ups for example. That’s cool, lots of kids do push ups in their bedroom but not so many can include a pull up motion in their daily lives. Remember you can’t climb trees anymore! Again, testing is frowned upon by some. A quick example- some kids can’t do a pull up yet. That’s fine, so hey get a zero on that portion of the test. The first thing that people will say is “oh the damage to his confidence the poor kid! What have you done he’ll remember this for life! He’ll cheat on his wife, he’ll ignore his children, he’ll take to the demon drink! All because you made him do that.” Yup, I am a bastard, I made ayoung kid try. Firstly, as I said to all those kids in front of me the other night, there is no failure point for these tests. There’s no minimum amount you must reach before passing and there’s no standard to hit. What the test does is give you an idea of where you are now, and what you have to do. Take the kids who couldn’t do a pull up last week, they’re going to go away and train for a month or two and then I’ll test them again. Imagine their confidence when they do a pull up then after doing the exercises we’re going to do in the meantime? If it were me, that would be a biggie, getting to do my first pull up with my team around me.
This is a subject I feel quite strongly about, as you may have noticed. Luckily for me I work in an arena where I have an opportunity to act on it. The support I get from parents varies, but I’ve found that the more a parent knows about what you’re trying to achieve, the better. Some get feedback from me every now and then, some don’t and some (no joke) I have never met even though I’ve been spending 2 hours a week with their child for years. But most are supportive due to the fact that I think they just want their kids to be active.
Okay, I’ve gone on and on there. This was supposed to be a small entry but I got going and found it hard to stop. I have very few jobs on this week as it’s mid-term break and most of my daytime work is with schools, so youcan expect the entries to go on as long as my wife allows.