Mar 13, 2017
Weightroom Mannequin Challenge

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Training & Conditioning.

Last fall, the Mannequin Challenge became the latest social media sensation to go viral. Everyone from presidential candidates to professional sports teams was doing it. And at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow, Ohio, one strength coach embraced the craze to teach his football team a weight lifting lesson.

Coming off of a week-nine win, the Stow-Munroe Falls squad entered the weightroom ready for their routine of in-season workouts. But Perry Wolfe, MEd, CSCS, the school’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, had something else in mind. “I wanted to lay back a little bit on the lifting so the team could heal up for the next game,” he says. “Instead, I saw an opportunity to provide a lesson in anatomical terminology, which is something we talk a lot about.”

After watching different videos of the Mannequin Challenge-which requires everyone involved to pose mid-action-Wolfe decided it would be a great way to teach players about the differences between isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions. “I explained the different contractions and how to hold them in a squat, a pull-up, a push-up, and a bench press,” he says. “Then, I had each player pick the type of lift they wanted to hold for the video.”

All it took was a quick rehearsal, and the players were ready to film their Mannequin Challenge. The video ended up being about 45 seconds long. In it, one player is seen three-quarters deep in a squat holding 315 pounds. The players were free to choose how much weight they wanted to hold, and Wolfe had complete confidence that they would make smart decisions.

“We spend a lot of time in the weightroom talking about form and the body positioning needed to lift or hold heavy weight,” Wolfe says. “This prepared us for the Mannequin Challenge, and I trusted the players to choose appropriate weight to hold for the video. They’re much more motivated to make the correct selection when someone isn’t telling them exactly what to do, and I was really impressed with how much weight some of the players were able to hold.”

Beyond reinforcing lifting lessons, the Mannequin Challenge allowed the athletes to have fun and mix up their in-season weightroom routine. “Weight training in-season becomes repetitive,” Wolfe says. “Your programs tend to lack a little bit of the dynamic flair that they might have in the pre- or postseason. It was very easy to motivate the players for this challenge because it was a nice change.”

Overall, the Stow-Munroe Falls Mannequin Challenge video was liked 222 times and had 106 retweets on Wolfe’s Twitter account. With such a positive response from the team and the public, Wolfe is certain he will continue to find similar ways to engage his athletes in the future.

“Social media is so important to this generation and, as educators, it allows us to use spotlighting,” Wolfe says. “It’s much more effective to spotlight a student who is working hard and following instructions than it is to correct a student who isn’t. This happens on a larger scale when we use social media to bring attention to student-athletes who are lifting weight with correct form.”

To watch the video Wolfe and the football team created, search “Stow-Munroe Falls Mannequin Challenge,” on

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