Building More Than Muscle

This article is authored by Doug Scott. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Doug designs workouts for both male and female student athletes competing on a variety of Varsity and Junior Varsity athletic teams, including many county, state, and conference championship teams. Listen to Doug’s podcast on iTunes by clicking here.

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Everything I have in life is either directly or indirectly related to strength training and fitness. I started exercising (push ups, sit ups and running) when I was in middle school. Mostly to pass the physical fitness test required to play sports, but also to avoid being a “bully target”. When I entered high school in 9th grade I started my first “organized” strength training workouts to cope with many of the “growing pains” of adolescents, and to stay competitive with athletics. Being the “try hard guy” in gym class and on the athletic field, physical training started to become my defining quality. Soon, high school biology was more about how will this help my exercise program and every class I took I tried to relate to physical fitness.

So it was no wonder that my college selection process revolved around exercise, particularly the study of “how exercise works” or Exercise Physiology. Currently, I am happy to say that my career path has led me to a position where I can share with you the value of exercise. Most of the time we are referring to improved strength or fitness, but here are two values that are real and never talked about in the popular press.

First is to think of exercise as an art form. Kim Wood states to truly appreciate what exercise can do you must first view it as a “participatory art”. An art form that the participant, while performing the activity, is learning not only about exercise (how to do it), but also about themselves. When I was first learning how to exercise it was amazing how much I learned about myself, particularly my own limits of discipline, commitment, focus, and attention to detail. All important “life lessons” that served me well in the future.

Second, strength training is more than “picking things up”, it’s a form of self expression. People often view weight training, as “mechanical” and the body in terms of isolated muscle groups. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, weight training appears mechanical because it is operating on the basic physics of human movement. However, the biological response to exercise is anything but isolated. When you exercise, a cascade of biological events happen that affect not only your muscles, but also your mood and personality. When I look back on my training career, it’s not physical strength I am the most proud of but the “silent strength” I was able to develop. Through exercise and challenging myself physically, I was able become a confident assertive individual who tackles life challenges head on with gusto.

So, the next time you visit the weight room, think about how the activity is helping you “develop” more than muscle. It’s your journey, make the most of it.

Doug Scott believes that strength training is a “means to and end” and should be a part of every athlete’s lifestyle; and it’s the coaches job to facilitate learning and put the athlete in the best position to get the most out of themselves and ultimately succeed. Mr. Scott has also worked as a personal trainer and has written a number of fitness-related articles and chapters. Coach Scott is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold the title of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can contact him at