Summer Football Strength and Conditioning Update No. 1
AMES, Iowa - The cyclones.com staff recently sat down with Iowa State's Director of Football Strength and Conditioning, Yancy McKnight and got an update on summer conditioning. This is the first of a three-part series with McKnight. Text of part one is available below, with a video version of the same interview located in the "play" link and the video tab above. Fans can also visit a photo gallery of the strengh and conditioning wall by clicking the "links" slideout tab above. Parts two and three will be made available in the upcoming days.
Summer Strength and Conditioning Update No. 1
cyclones.com: Summer conditioning is well under way now. What is your initial impression?
McKnight: Good. The main difference from last year to this year is the change in the amount of work capacity the guys have. Their recovery rates are a lot faster, body composition and strength levels and even conditioning levels we want right now are exceptional in comparison to last year. We started on May 17 and that was our first week. Whether they were on campus or off campus that is when we started our summer program, the 10-week summer program. This is week six we are in right now that the guys are finishing up this week. They’ve been hard at it since May 17. Once spring ball was over, they had two weeks and then finals, then they were off for a week and then back on the 17th. They’ve been hitting it pretty hard the last six weeks.
cyclones.com: You are in your second year of off-season training, what are you doing differently than in previous years?
McKnight: This year has been a little bit different from what we’ve been able to do with the guys. Last year our winter off-season program of 2009 was more introduction as we got into it in late January. So it was a little bit different from what we were doing from winter to summer. We almost had to take the whole winter program in 2009 as an introduction and teaching new skill acquisition and things like that. It was a little slower process. Last summer, we didn’t quite get to do the stuff that we wanted to do just because of the late start with winter and then having to re-teach a lot of things that we wanted from a technique standpoint. Right now, the thing we’ve been very impressed with during the 2010 off-season winter conditioning to summer conditioning has been retention and drill acquisition. From week one, once we re-introduced our speed and mechanic drills and some of our change in direction work again, this was really quickly picked up by our guys.
And then obviously we can talk about their strength levels. The amount of work they are now able to do in a training session is really night and day from last year to this time.
cyclones.com: In the hallway entering the weight room, you have photos of all the players able to lift certain weights, etc. Explain what that means, or the importance of that. (click here to see photos of the wall murals).
McKnight: When you deal with competitive guys, we want them to be competitive in everything they do. When it comes to practice, obviously Saturdays, individual drills, one-on-ones, team group setting, whatever it may be, we want them to be competitive. The same thing applies to us for our speed workouts, strength and conditioning workouts. We talk about this all the time. It’s one-on-one battles in football, and it’s also one-on-one battles when you talk about lifting, or you talk about speed work. They may have to make a target time or lift a certain amount of weight for reps. That is a one-on-one battle between the player and, let’s say the barbell for example. They have to win that one-on-one battle. We try to make everything as competitive as possible in the weight room and in conditioning, just like on the football field.
We want to recognize guys that do a great job and put in the work and are dedicated. And, by that wall out there, they can recognize some of the standards we like to use as far as lifts like the power clean or a bench press or a front or back squat or a vertical jump or just pound-for-pound strongest guys in the program. And then we can talk about position by position record boards. I think it’s great for incoming freshman to see where they stand in comparison to other people that play their position. I think it is great for recruiting, for kids to see what we do. It’s important to the guys that they get on that wall and that’s something they can strive for. It’s a goal.
Just like our weekly players of the week and scout teams players of the week during the season, we have a board for guys that work their tail off in the weight room as well. It just recognizes hard work and dedication.
The movements on that wall are the ones we feel are important. Now, I’m not a big bench press guy. I think you need to have upper body strength, but the things we mainly emphasize on that wall are triple joint movements, athletic movements and more hip-based dominant movement, which is what you play football with, your hips. The vertical jump to body weight is on the board up there, the power factor, the power clean, the back squat and front squat, whichever one we are doing are all major muscle groups that include lower hip dominant movements. We want to be able to jump and do athletic movements, do speed training and things like that, things that we do in here need to transition to a movement out on the football field. So those are the goals in the hallway.
I like to make it even competition for our bigs and our skill guys, so I do it pound-for-pound. We want everyone to know who the strongest guy in the program is. Last year it was David Sims. Last year, who was our strongest vertical jumper by body weight? Rashawn Parker. He was also No. 1 in our power factor. You look at that stuff and a big guy is going to have more poundage total, than say maybe a skill guy, but in body weight to total poundage, who is strongest pound-for-pound? This way, I think it’s fair and it is equal. That allows our skill guys to have goals to be the strongest guy in the program and David Sims is a perfect example of that.
Then on the flip side of that, the top five guys in our power factor were Rashawn Parker, Chris Lyle, some big guys in there as far as their vertical jumps to their body weights go, were outstanding. Guys that are 250-plus pounds, but yet they have 36-inch verticals, that’s pretty impressive. We want to be able to show to our kids that progress, hard work and dedication can be rewarded and being on that wall for a full calendar year is a big deal.
We don’t have all-time records. I don’t do that and that’s not what we’re about. For our guys, it’s year to year. What matters now is 2010, not 2009. That’s kind of the way I look at viewing records. We don’t really get too bent out of shape about numbers. Testing numbers, you can twist them and contort them anyway you want to. That wall out there is reward. We’re not going to have a lifting hall of fame, or something like that. Those guys walk down that hallway every day before they enter that weight room. Our recruits walk down that hallway on their visits. Alumni do as well. I think it’s important that they see that wall as they walk by.
Then, they can see the “all-in” sign right before they walk in the door. That all culminates of what we do in our program. They walk down that same path pretty much every day whether it’s going outside to practice, to lift, conditioning workouts or speed workouts.