“It’s just not something we do at school”. Adolescent boys’ understanding, perceptions and experiences of muscular fitness activity

Ashley Cox*, Stuart J. Fairclough, Robert J. Noonan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Background: English youth typically do not sufficiently engage in the types and intensities of physical activity that develop muscular fitness. The aim of this study was to use a combination of qualitative techniques to explore adolescent boys’ understanding, perceptions, and experiences of physical activity and the role muscular fitness plays within boys’ physically active lifestyles. Methods: Focus group interviews with a write, draw, show, and tell activity were conducted with 32 adolescent boys aged 14–16 years from 3 secondary schools. Three separate sources of data (frequency counts, verbatim transcripts, and visual data) were generated and were pooled together and triangulated. Data were analysed deductively, first using the Youth Physical Activity Promotion model as a thematic framework, and then inductively. Results: Physical activity was frequently associated with organised sport, and most boys were unaware of current UK physical activity guidelines. Co-participation was frequently reported as a reinforcing factor to physical activity. Conclusions: There was a perceived lack of opportunity to participate in muscular fitness activities, particularly in school, and knowledge of how to conduct muscular fitness activities was limited. The contribution of physical education was highlighted as being key to facilitating exposure to muscular fitness activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4923
Pages (from-to)e4923
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021


  • Adolescents
  • Muscular fitness
  • Physical activity
  • Physical education
  • Muscular Fitness
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education
  • Physical Activity
  • Exercise
  • Adolescent
  • Perception
  • Physical Fitness
  • Schools
  • Sports

Research Groups

  • Movement Behaviours, Health & Wellbeing Research Group


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