How to Teach about Resistance Exercise in PE

It is no secret to any of my students (current or past) that my absolute favorite unit to teach is the unit on RESISTANCE EXERCISE. In the beginning of the year when we talk about the units and things we will discuss it’s hard to hide my love for this unit. I spend the most time on it during the year, and to me it’s the most fun! Students may not always think they will love it, but in the end they do! *Helpful hint, I teach 9th graders so this is geared to high schoolers*

I am partial to this unit for a lot of reasons

  1. The importance of students understanding about their bodies and knowing where bones and muscles are.
  2. When it comes to being active for a lifetime, strength training is important across all age groups and is something they can do for a lifetime.
    • Adolescents- because they are building their framework and in athletes strength training reduces the rate of injuries
    • Middle age- because you are fighting losing muscle mass and the affects (in women) of menopause
    • Elderly- because they are fighting losing muscle mass as well as brittle bones and the stronger they are, the more active they can be
    • among many other benefits
  3. The students LOVE when we start lifting weights and talking about how to properly do exercises.
  4. This unit has so many opportunities for project based learning.

Here is a quick run down of my unit and some activities and resources I use when teaching this unit.

I introduce my unit by using Goose Chase, a virtual scavenger hunt. I have about 30 mins worth of questions (I teach 90 min classes). Some are active like having them demonstrate a plyometric exercise, and some require research like having them name benefits of strength training. It’s a great way to have kids see where we are going in the unit by dipping their toes in, but not give away all we are going to learn.

Then I introduce the skeletal system and discuss

Then comes the most fun…THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM

  • Functions of the muscular system and benefits of resistance exercise (specifically throughout the lifetime). I have done activities in the past where I give them a whiteboard and have them research benefits and see which team can come up with the most benefits in a designated amount of time.
  • Names, locations and functions of the major muscle groups. I try to break them down 2-3 muscles at a time and go over name, location and function then I have students group up and comes up with 2-3 exercises they may know for those muscle groups and then be able to demonstrate them to the class. I have a few activities that we do after this so students can master that material.
  • Sets, Reps, Muscular Strength vs. Muscular Endurance- after this I usually throw in a group project where they work in a group to create, and run for the whole class, a resistance exercise circuit. It is here if you are interested (it does require students access to some equipment like medicine balls, stability balls, step, etc)
  • *sometimes* we talk about the principles of training. Kind of like above, I read the class. Some classes are very into learning about strength training and it works to add this in, some do not.
  • Different strength training types they have heard of- Olympic lifting, plyometrics, crossfit etc.- I have split them up into groups and had them jigsaw this. Give each small group a different type and have them learn about it, then come together to inform the rest of the class. I have also had them do a project where they create an infographic about one of the types that they find most interesting.
  • Fundamental movements
    • Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, Lunge- if I am able to get them in our schools weight room we do, and we go over proper form for this movements. If the weight room isn’t available I have class sets of dumbbells that we use to go over this movements. At this point they have been exposed to most of these and are usually able to direct me through a movement easily. I also talk about here how they can modify these exercises to make them easier or harder. This is a great way for them to understand how to modify for themselves if they are active/athletes/etc or as they get older or may need to modify for injury.

It seems like a lot, and it is, but I have found my students really really enjoy this unit. I also have many of them come back and tell me how prepared they were for their anatomy class or athletic training classes that they end up taking as electives.

On each day I make sure that I am doing a class activity that is also getting them moving but is specific to strength training. Some of the activities above are active and that helps, but the ones that may not be, I add an activity before, during, or after the non active things. I have many that I choose from, or I use videos like this one which is NFL Play 60 and it focuses on strength. Fitness Blender is also a great resource for workouts that you can filter to the time, body part, intensity that you need for your classes.

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