The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Physics teacher Matthew Welander finds numerous benefits of going to the gym

Matthew Welander
Physics teacher Matthew Welander does a bench press.

Physics teacher Matthew Welander teaches high-level science classes that demand thorough preparation and deep concentration. But his work days begin in a place not typically associated with the concepts he teaches: a local gym.

He spends most mornings in the gym from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and he credits his workouts with helping him stay energized throughout the entire school day while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Before beginning his near-daily routine of going to the gym, Welander played a variety of sports, starting with soccer and track in high school, the former of which he continued to play in college recreational leagues. He later quit soccer after sustaining numerous injuries from the sport.

“Most of the injuries I got during soccer involved getting kicked in the leg or getting my foot or ankle stepped on,” Welander said. “But I also had issues with my knee, and didn’t want an injury that would hinder my mobility later in life.”

In college, he occasionally lifted weights with friends when his busy schedule allowed. Although Welander now wakes up in the morning to go to the gym, he used to have a more sporadic schedule, going whenever he felt like he had time and often taking long breaks.

“I’d work out for several months and then sort of fall off,” he said. “And then maybe a year later, I’d pick it back up. I started consistently going about five years ago.”

He later conformed to a rigid schedule after trying out morning workouts, which he realized was an easier way to stay consistent.

“It was really hard not to let other activities interfere with my routine in the afternoon, and there were always reasons I couldn’t go. But there’s no conflict in the mornings,” Welander said.

When he first started exercising, he tried to find the best way possible to structure workouts. Through careful research on the internet, Welander adopted a common five by five by five schedule.

“It was just easy to remember,” he said. “You break your workout routines into five sets of five different exercises rotating through five different days.” 

Since then, he has deviated from following five by five by five exactly. On some days like arm days, he does six exercises instead: three bicep exercises and three tricep exercises. His favorite type of exercises are tricep exercises such as dips, cable pushdowns and overhead cable tricep-extensions, as through his experience, these exercises isolate their target muscles the best.

Since he began to regularly work out, Welander has noticed significant changes, both physically and mentally. While he could barely curl 25 pounds with his arms when he started working out regularly, he can now comfortably do 50. While he used to struggle to bench 115 pounds, he now benches over 200. In particular, he is most proud of once doing 100 push-ups in a row.

“This eventually started bothering my shoulder so I stopped doing that many push-ups, but I continue to be able to do a lot of pull-ups,” he said.

Welander stresses the importance of training safely and progressing slowly to mitigate injuries, as recovery can be a long process. When he hurt his shoulder after pushing himself too hard and tried to resume the shoulder exercises, the pain came back and the injury worsened. Welander no longer pushes himself to try to achieve new personal bests each time, but rather works out simply to stay healthy and fit.

Aside from the physical benefits, Welander has gained discipline from working out. Beyond just increasing muscle mass, he also noticed that because of his workouts, he feels more energized, sticks to a better sleep schedule and maintains a better mood.

“I can definitely feel the difference between days I go to the gym and days when I skip it. Beginning my day at the gym helps me feel more energized throughout the day, especially in the morning, but even when I’m driving home from work.” Welander said. “Overall, working out just makes me feel healthier.”

Donate to The Saratoga Falcon

Your donation will support the student journalists of Saratoga High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Saratoga Falcon