Ann Arbor, MI 48104,USA

How My Cross Country Team Started Using ShapeLog

Connected Strength Training

How My Cross Country Team Started Using ShapeLog

ShapeLog’s “Team Strength Day” program started as a brainstorming session:  How could I incorporate my own experiences and ShapeLog’s technology?

I am a high school cross country runner that sat out half my junior season because of an injury. The injury was not from a fall during a distance workout, but a strength training class I was taking through my high school. This seemed wrong. How did I get injured doing something I thought was supposed to make me stronger? The answer was improper strength training and a program that was designed for a football player, not for me, a girl’s cross country runner. There was a clear deficit of education about proper strength training and how strength training could be customized to an individual athlete. This revealed an opportunity for ShapeLog to educate and evolve the strength programs of high school sports, not just at my school, but at every school.

ShapeLog has built the foundational elements for a connected weight room. The data collected gives coaches information they would not have access to previously. This information can be used to show improvement over time, which can be used as encouragement for athletes to continue to improve. The data also can be used to give coaches additional insight into strength training and the effects on an athlete’s performance. The ultimate goal is to cater to the needs of each individual athlete to make strength training less intimidating, make the athlete healthier, improve performance, and encourage strength training as a lifelong activity.

These ideas are great, but how would this actually work?

This is what we did:

We organized a “Team Strength Day” to give my teammates the opportunity to see just how strong they really were and to better understand their own strength possibilities.  To make this a successful event we needed to address the issues of access, education, and social stigma.

Issue 1: Access

Cross country is really popular at my high school and my team is huge – around 150 girls! During the season, only about one quarter of us have consistent access to a weight room, but the other 75% still need the benefits that strength training could provide.  

There were really two problems with access: capacity on the “Team Strength Day” and ongoing access to continue strength training. On event day, we solved the capacity issue by:

    • Taking volunteers. Athletes were allowed to opt in. We wanted to make sure that everyone that participated was excited to be there.
    • Keeping it short, a 20 minute commitment. High school kids are busy. We wanted something that would be quick but informative, so we decided strength assessments would be the best form of the activity.
  • Staggering groups, so nobody had to wait for long.

In terms of ongoing access to strength training, we realized that we didn’t have a ton of control over essential elements. However, we did have control over what athletes were walking away with. We made sure the information on the athlete reports was formatted in a way that could be used in any gym. This way the athletes will be able to use the proper amount of weight on the equipment any place any time.

Issue 2: Education

Most of the girls on my cross country team had little to no experience with strength training. That made the education component critical. This is what we did to teach my team:

    • Athletes were taught proper technique on all the equipment being used. The great part is that ShapeLog’s technology can adapt to whatever equipment the team has, in our case this was seven machines.
    • Athletes received reports. The reports contained relative strengths and weaknesses and ideal weight settings.
  • Coaches also get feedback. We sat down with my coaches to show the value in the data they received through the coaches reports (see slides below).

Issue 3: Social Stigma

It is intimidating to be a young woman and walk into a strength class full of people who look like they could bench press you. I want to be strong too, but in an environment that is encouraging not discouraging. A key outcome of the Team Strength Day is that the other girls on my team have a different outlook on what is possible with strength training for them.

How can YOU organize a Team Strength Day?