Strength and conditioning coach Richard Beeler assists volleyball player Annie Palmer with her lift.  Beeler has been running the program since last February.

GCHS seeing benefits from strength and conditioning program


Ten years ago the weight room at Greene County High School expanded and moved into a separate facility located just south of the main building. Some of the coaches took turns supervising the room before and after school and in the summer months to give students a chance to improve their strength. Several years ago, high school principal Brian Phillip started a power lifting club and worked with several students, but the school never had an organized weight lifting program for all of their athletes. That all changed last February when a new high school physical education teacher, Richard Beeler, offered to run a strength and conditioning program in addition to his teaching responsibilities. “We were one of only two schools left in the Heart of Iowa Conference that didn’t have a specific weight training program,” said Dean Lansman, the school’s athletic director. “I think we are already seeing benefits for the students that have been involved on a regular basis. ”

Beeler, a four year football player for Wartburg College is quite passionate about weight training and its benefits for athletes. He has trained with Greg Kustra who is one of the best Olympic lifting coaches in the nation and is currently training to compete at the national level in Olympic style weight lifting. “I also have a close connection with several Division I college strength and conditioning coaches and athletes that are chasing world records in power lifting,” said Beeler.

Although he doesn’t know what the program was like before 2013, he has a good sized group of athletes that have bought into the program and attend consistently. Each student’s program is individualized for the sport, gender, and the time of the year (in-season/off-season). Students are shown proper technique, so they don’t hurt themselves. “I supervise them quite closely for awhile, and kids always have spotters close to them when they are lifting in case they need help. I am excited about the new Olympic platforms and barbells that will be arriving soon.”

Coach Beeler thinks that strength training is very important for every athlete even those four sport athletes that don’t have a season off. “The programs are tailored to what the athletes’ current needs are and won’t take away from their game time performances,” said Beeler. “It is a common misconception that athletes should not lift in-season(while they are participating in a sport), but it is essential that athletes not only lift while in-season, but lift heavy. In-season programs call for low repetitions, but higher weight. This facilitates maximum muscle recruitment, and minimizes muscle soreness.”

Will we see evidence of the extra work that students have done to become stronger? Coach Beeler believes that a weight training program is directly correlated to a team’s success. He stated that an increase in strength helps increase speed, agility, and explosiveness and decreases the risk of injury. The Rams have more than 10 players on the football team that can power clean 225 pounds or more, and he thinks that will definitely elevate their level of play. Ten of the volleyball players have increased their standing vertical jump to 20 inches or more which should help those players be more effective at the net.

Strength programs for high school athletes were not as prevalent even five years ago, but they are now the norm rather than the exception, and they are fully endorsed by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. The internet has hundreds of articles documenting the positive effects of this type of training in grades 9-12. Students should feel fortunate that Greene County High School is providing this service to help them reach their full potential, be more competitive, and become healthier.

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