There was a time in the late 1980s when exercise science professor David Pearson felt like an outsider when it came to exercising on a college campus. Faculty, staff, and students were lacing up their running shoes to hit the roads and trails around Ball State, but he could be found in a weight room—pounding out reps on the bench and squat rack.
Over the last two decades, the focus of health and wellness has taken a dramatic turn. While millions of Americans are still avid runners, many have added strength training to improve their performances. Lifting is now mainstream thanks, in part, to researchers publicizing the health benefits through magazines and other outlets.
“Back in the 1980s, strength training was thought to be 20 years behind in most areas when it came to scientific research,” he says. “Back then, everyone was just trying to lift as heavy as possible without any data.”
Pearson has been instrumental in several major research projects examining strength training conducted by Ball. In 2007, he was honored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and by the University of California, Los Angeles.
“It has been incredible to see how research of strength training has advanced during the last two decades,” says Pearson, who is the coordinator of the university’s sports performance graduate program. “I’ve been fortunate to be around when the field has made great strides. Strength training is a major component of athletic training in every sport in this country as well as for the average person.
“As coordinator of the program, I am seeing a boom in the number of people who want degrees to become strength coaches at various levels of sports. Today, strength training is the key component at every high school, college, and pro program. It is a fast growing field.”
Featured by Men’s Health
As a result of his national reputation for research into strength training, Pearson became a member of an experts panel for the highly popular Men’s Health magazine in the early 1990s. Men's Health, published by Rodale Inc., is the world’s largest men’s magazine brand, with 44 editions around the world, and its website, MensHealth.com, averages 38 million page views a month.
“Men’s Health strives to give its readers the strongest science-based advice on how to build muscle and burn fat every month,” says Ben Court, a senior editor for the magazine. “Prof. Pearson plays a critical role in helping the magazine stay up to speed with latest developments in strength training.”
In the magazine’s September 2011 issue, Pearson was profiled, allowing him to talk about his latest research as well as his insights on everything from his favorite strength training exercise (power cleans) to chocolate milk, his preferred post-workout recovery drink.
“My feature story in Men’s Health is a tribute to our work here at Ball State. And it has brought incredibly positive publicity to the university simply because the publication is held in high regard by people around the world.”