By: Esther Fultz
Before he received any professional training, sophomore Carson Lopes was interested in pursuing weightlifting. But after several of his friends incurred various injuries lifting, he realized he needed to be especially vigilant to practice proper form. To that end, Lopes decided to take Weight Training with Dr. Peterson.
Weight Training, a one-credit class taught at Cedarville every spring and fall, is not a traditional classroom course. Although a small portion of classroom instruction is involved, the majority of class time is spent in the gym. Over the course of seven weeks, students learn six different fundamental movement patterns: horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, vertical pull, squat, and deadlift.
Many of Peterson’s students have relatively weak core strength, so he begins his class by teaching basic core strengthening exercises. Students are also taught how to breathe and brace properly.
“If we put a lot of weight on the bar when we’re squatting or deadlifting, we can create a tremendous amount of compression on the spine,” Peterson said. “If you breathe and brace properly, you can reduce that by about 20-40% through what’s called intra-abdominal pressure.”
Rather than teaching a one-size fits all approach to form, Peterson helps students figure out what works best for them and adapts general principles to optimize safety and range of motion for different body types.
“The best part of this class has been learning how to do exercises right after all these years of doing them wrong,” said McKayla Boldt, a senior student in Peterson’s class. “I have learned I have a different anatomy setup from a lot of people and therefore a different squat works best for me and allows me to reach a full range of motion where I couldn’t before.”
“He’s really able to show you what your strengths are and when you need to adjust things,” said Lopes. “It’s very personalized.”
Peterson teaches weightlifting with a long-term perspective. He emphasizes form over weight; this isn’t the class to max out. He also wants students to understand the long-term benefits of weight lifting, particularly the maintenance of bone density and type two muscle fibers.
“Cardiovascular training and flexibility training do little to improve bone density but strength training does,” said Peterson. “And the only thing that stimulates your type two muscle fibers is either high-intensity strength training or training very, very explosively.”
Strength training is important even for individuals who aren’t athletic because of these long-term health benefits.
“I tell my students, you’re going to be deadlifting the rest of your life,” Peterson said. “You’re going to be picking your grandkids off the floor someday. You’re going to be picking a heavy laundry basket off the floor.”
Weight lifting has equipped Boldt and Lopes with knowledge and skills that are useful beyond the seven-week duration of the class.
“It teaches you a well-rounded approach to health and wellness,” Lopes said about the class. “Even if you don’t want to be a powerlifter.”
Photo Contribution by: Dr. Peterson
Esther Fultz is a junior Social Work major and the Off-Campus Editor for Cedars. She enjoys thrifting, writing music, hiking and hanging out with friends.