From Football to Physical Education: Training Together

At St. Paul High School in Nebraska, a smaller school comprised of just a few hundred kids, Rusty Fuller serves as the Physical Education director for grades 7th through 12th, and is the Head Football Coach. Like many schools across the country, St. Paul has recently initiated a school-wide approach to fitness and physical training. The goal was to bring all students together, allowing them to work side-by-side, while still allowing for personalization and varying goals.

To accomplish this, Rusty initially utilized the Bigger Faster Stronger computer software, ‘Beat The Computer’. Having used it with his Football team, he did his level best to modify the program for kids with various levels of training experience. However, this was not without its challenges.

“Running a successful class training session with 30 kids of varying ability is hard. You’re trying to adapt things on the fly for different kids while also teach and instruct on proper form and mechanics.”

When online strength and conditioning programs started cropping up a couple of years ago, Rusty turned to them in hopes of streamlining this process. He wanted something that offered instructional content to every student, programs for students and athletes alike, and allowed him to track a host of different data. Ultimately, Rusty went with PLT4M, first leveraging its athletic development programs for his football team both during the off-season, and while they competed in the fall. He recognized the value straight away.

“What’s great about PLT4M is that every kid has access to their personalized program – right on their phone. They have all the instructional videos and guidance they need. This frees me up to work with the kids who need the most help.”

As is the case with many small schools, a lot of the kids at St. Paul are multi-sport athletes. Rusty and his principal saw the value in PLT4M’s holistic, multi-sport training approach and worked to bring the entire student body on board. This allowed Rusty to place students on certain programs dictated by competitive seasons, as well as teach fitness to students not engaged in athletics.

St. Paul has established a comprehensive, yet flexible Physical Education curriculum that caters to each student’s individual needs. 7th and 8th graders start with PLT4M’s Fit 4 Life program, which establishes proper movement mechanics and a foundation of holistic fitness. They then graduate to ‘Introduction to Weight Training’ – a great bridge into barbell oriented resistance training.

With the curriculum set and programs in place, Rusty allows the PLT4M system to collect the training data. Kids logged their workouts and results each day, and at the end of a semester, Rusty can run a progress report with a few clicks. He then submits that report to his administrators, and uses it to grade kids with hard data. Not only has that been a game changer for him, but he says the kids love seeing their progress.

“The ability for students and athletes to have access to not just the training programs and videos, but also their training data – that is huge!”

With the recent release of a new PE weight training curriculum – Advanced Weight Training – Rusty has yet another arrow in his quiver. “PLT4M has come a long way in the three years since I signed up. It just keeps getting better with every new year,” Rusty notes. And isn’t that the goal – to constantly strive for improvement? Whether you are a coach, teacher, student or software company, we certainly believe it should be.


Want a peek at how we can help you bring a school-wide approach to your school? Request a Demo Here!


Anything You Can Do…

We often get inquiries from coaches about their female athletes and what training programs they should be doing, how they should be different, etc. The bottom line is, here at PLT4M we do not differentiate between our male and female athletes, and we hate when girl athletes are told they aren’t supposed to train like the boys!

As far back as 1990, the NSCA itself wrote a position statement that said females are essentially no different from males when it comes to training (linked below). They reap the same benefits, and should indeed engage in the same types of physical training.

When it comes to high school athletes, it’s even more important. Females generally mature earlier than boys and should be engaged in physical training even before their male counterparts to promote healthy growth and movement. In fact, the rise in injury among female athletes – specifically ACL injuries – is often cited as due to improper movement patterns and muscular imbalances. Valgus knee collapse, and quad dominant lower leg strength are two of the big factors – both of which can be prevented by the overriding principles of a good introductory training program. As it turns out, it’s a lack of proper education and training that is their biggest risk! (references and further reading below)

Some coaches also say that females should avoid pressing things overhead for fear of injury due to a lack of upper body strength. This could not be more backwards – yes, females have a lower relative strength when it comes to upper body movements but this doesn’t mean they should avoid upper body strength training. In fact, it means this should be a key area of focus in order to help them build the requisite upper body strength and live a healthy, injury-free life.

Like male athletes, high school females should be engaged in a holistic training program that sets a proper foundation. Athletes need to be well-balanced, and ready to compete in more ways than are generally evident at first glance. When creating a program for your athletes, keep the following goals in mind:

  • Baseline Strength (Press, Squat, Pull, Hinge, Lunge)
  • Mobility (Proprioception, strength through range of motion, unilateral strength, flexibility)
  • Injury Prevention (Joint stability, proper movement patterns, muscular balance)
  • Power (Plyometrics, high velocity movement, acceleration/deceleration)
  • Engine (Aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold, MetCon)
  • Mind (mental toughness, self confidence, teamwork)

Long story short, our stance is that we are all human, all athletes, and we should approach fitness and training in the same way. We train to become better athletes, more dynamic versions of ourselves, and your program should work for ALL of your athletes

Further Reading:

NSCA Official Position Statement

Dharamsi, MD Aisha, and MD Cynthia LaBella. “Prevention of ACL Injuries in Adolescent Female Athletes.” Contemporary Pediatrics,, 1 July 2013,


Osborne, PT, MSPT , Maria. “Why Do Females Injure Their Knees Four to Six Times More Than Men…And What Can You Do About It?” 2012,


Holloway, J.B. & Baechle, T.R. Sports Med (1990) 9: 216.