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View Full Version : Craig Fitzgerald brings long-needed new S & C philosophy


CloakNNNdagger
02-06-2014, 11:06 AM
"Changes, they are a'comin'" The weight machines are likely to be coat hangers for the equally as successful Texans varsity jackets. Fitzgerald and his staff' specific goal will be to grow them bigger, faster, and stronger. With this new philosophy, hopefully we will see a trend to lesser injuries. When concrete meets balsa wood, concrete usually wins. It'll be nice for our players to drop their usual role of the weak and fragile balsa wood, and take on the properties of a non-yielding concrete wall.


New strength and conditioning program already having an impact at Penn State


BY DONNIE COLLINS (STAFF WRITER)

Published: February 20, 2012


Jake Kiley is a Penn State recruit looking for some Penn State information, and last weekend, he took to Silas Redd's Twitter account to find it.

The cornerback from New Hampshire asked the Nittany Lions' star tailback about the intricacies of the Nittany Lions' new strength and conditioning program, citing how anxious he was to get to State College and start working to get stronger.

Redd returned some sage advice.

"It's a real good change of pace," Redd tweeted back. "Hope you are ready to work, though."

Think there have been a lot of changes at Penn State since Joe Paterno was fired on Nov. 9? The one that has occurred in the weight room might be as significant as any of them, if you listen to the players who have been getting used to it over the past month.

In January, Penn State severed ties with longtime strength and conditioning coach John Thomas and his staff, hiring former South Carolina strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald to replace him.

Last week, the Nittany Lions announced the hiring of three new assistant strength coaches - Dwight Galt IV, Sean Hayes and Steven Williams Jr. Galt and Williams worked with Fitzgerald at South Carolina, while Hayes comes in from Jacksonville University. Both Hayes and Williams are Harvard graduates.

Fitzgerald brings a new staff and a new philosophy on how football players should best prepare for the rigors of a Big Ten schedule. When the new program took effect in January, players immediately noticed the difference.

More accurately, they felt it. In quivering legs. In suddenly sore back and chest muscles. In their backs and in their shoulders.

"The old way, there was a lot of work on machines. Not anymore," quarterback and West Scranton grad Matt McGloin said. "There are a lot of dead lifts now. There are a lot of squats. A lot of power cleans. A lot of bench press, which we are not used to. That's probably why some people had trouble with it. But, it is exciting.

"You can tell by looking at guys how different it is."

The difference is as obvious as the differences between Fitzgerald and the man he replaced.

Thomas was Penn State's strength coach since 1991, and despite his long tenure at the school, it was his training philosophy that likely would be considered untraditional in comparison to Fitzgerald's.

Thomas implemented the High Intensity Training (HIT) method, which focused more on building endurance than brute strength and impressive bulk. In the old days using HIT, players would train mostly on machines, focusing on lifting lower rates and performing more reps. They'd lift those lighter weights repeatedly, until they were no longer to execute another rep. And at that point, a certain amount of weight would be removed, at which point, the player would continue to lift until his muscles were, again, exhausted.



In short, Penn State football players went through workouts very similar to ones that they'd have gone through had they enrolled in the military. Thomas, in fact, was once head strength trainer at the United States Military Academy.

The method had its benefits. Using machines during the exercises put a premium on technique, which limited unnecessary muscle strains and injury while working out. It also made the Nittany Lions leaner, better able to handle the cardiovascular workload of a tough fourth quarter. And besides, the late Joe Paterno used to despise playing overweight linemen. This method helped keep the excess weight off.

The HIT program came with a bit of controversy, though. As years passed, fans complained that Penn State's linemen weren't as big, strong and physical as others around the Big Ten. Defensive tackles looked like defensive ends. Linebackers who looked skinny at Penn State were becoming statuesque almost overnight in the NFL.

Thomas and HIT were often handed part of the blame during discussions about whether the Penn State coaching staff was doing enough to develop players.

Fitzgerald's hire was roundly applauded by Penn State fans, mostly because his program is different from the HIT program.

Free weights are back. So are the max bench presses which the HIT program deemed useless. Fitzgerald's focus, players say, is to make them more explosive, better able to absorb contact. In short, to be as physical going forward as they'd like to have been in the past.

"At the end of the day, you can lift the weight until you're blue in the face, but you've got to go out and play ball," linebacker Michael Mauti said. "There are certain things you can do in the weight room that will help you out, I believe. And I believe this program is going to do that. It'll make guys stronger. It'll make guys faster. And it will put more muscle on some guys so we can be more physical. I think that's what we've been lacking in the last couple of years. We have some great players here. But that's how you take it to the next level. Rest of Story (http://thetimes-tribune.com/sports/new-strength-and-conditioning-program-already-having-an-impact-at-penn-state-1.1274025)


Here is a look into Fitzgerald's competitive Olympic-based training philosophy in his own words VIDEO:

MEET CRAIG FITZGERALD (HIS PHILOSOPHY) (http://pennstate.scout.com/2/1159650.html)

"Impressive" is a word that comes to mind.:texflag:

thunderkyss
02-06-2014, 11:13 AM
Fitzgerald and his staff' specific goal will be to grow them bigger, faster, and stronger. With this new philosophy, hopefully we will see a trend to lesser injuries.

What was the old philosophy? Smaller, weaker, & slower?

Thomas implemented the High Intensity Training (HIT) method, which focused more on building endurance than brute strength and impressive bulk. In the old days using HIT, players would train mostly on machines, focusing on lifting lower rates and performing more reps. They'd lift those lighter weights repeatedly, until they were no longer to execute another rep. And at that point, a certain amount of weight would be removed, at which point, the player would continue to lift until his muscles were, again, exhausted.

That's not HIT at all. HIT is about working the muscle to failure in 1 set (8 to 10 reps) & it's usually a full body workout... if you're using the Darden method, he stresses resting to allow the muscle to grow. 1 workout a week (again, working every muscle to failure) would be too much for an adult male.

CloakNNNdagger
02-06-2014, 11:21 AM
What was the old philosophy? Smaller, weaker, & slower?



That's not HIT at all. HIT is about working the muscle to failure in 1 set (8 to 10 reps) & it's usually a full body workout... if you're using the Darden method, he stresses resting to allow the muscle to grow. 1 workout a week (again, working every muscle to failure) would be too much for an adult male.

No..........just seemed like it was the RESULTS of the old philosophy........

nero THE zero
02-06-2014, 12:05 PM
I'm hardly an expert on kinesiology, and even I know that compound exercises are exponentially more beneficial than the isolated benefits of machines.

Maybe I have been naïve, but when I saw all of the machines in the Texans training room, I always just assumed they were for supplemental exercise and/or rarely used--do we know for certain Smith used them central to his training regimen?

Playoffs
02-06-2014, 12:14 PM
From the staff thread...

Texans new S&C coach changed Jeremy Lin’s career (http://www.csnhouston.com/football-houston-texans/talk/texans-new-sc-coach-changed-lin%E2%80%99s-career)
...
But by the time he left Cambridge, Lin wasn’t that same skinny kid anymore. Four years later, he weighed 200 pounds and had a legitimate shot of making it in the NBA.

He can thank the Texans’ new strength and conditioning coach, Craig Fitzgerald, for that. And he does.

“He’s a great, great, great guy,” Lin said after a Rockets practice last week. “I can’t say more about him. He changed my career definitely. When I showed up, I was 170 and I was the weakest player to ever show up in the Harvard basketball program, just weight-wise. And when I left, I was one of the stronger guys there. He just taught me how to be more mentally tough. He pushed me. Man, he’s awesome.”

See, Fitzgerald, whom Bill O’Brien is bringing with him to the Houston Texans from Penn State, was the director of strength and conditioning at Harvard while Lin was in college and had a huge impact on the point guard’s career.

“He just pushes you in ways you don’t think you can be pushed,” said former Penn State defensive lineman Daquan Jones, who is projected to be a high-round draft pick, at the Senior Bowl. “It’s a different type of workout. You test your body in every type of way, in every weather condition. It’s just something that gets you in shape and gets you ready for the football game.”

cland
02-06-2014, 12:27 PM
The old/'new coach' Cedric Smith was a fairly similar Olympic style work-out, and the machines had already been cleared out of the way back in 2010 to be replaced with power clean/manual weights, etc. :

(This a quote of Stephanie Stradley quoting a houstontexans article that is no longer available)

Smith cleared out half of the weight room and filled it with eight “combo racks,” dual-sided racks on power clean platforms. Both sides of the racks can be used at the same time, allowing more players to train at once. The racks can be used for a variety of exercises, including power cleans, squats, bench press, incline bench, flat bench and pull-ups.

“I believe these exercises most translate the weight room to the football field,” Smith said. “These are football exercises in the weight room that, what I believe and what we believe as a strength staff, are what’s going to enable our guys to get better on the field.”

The combo racks aren’t the only difference. Smith also brought in plyometric jump pads, and a new set of dumbbells that will enable a wider range of motion during exercises.

There’s little emphasis on machines in Smith’s training philosophy, which he shared with HoustonTexans.com on Thursday.

“We want to work a little bit differently than they did in the past,” Smith said. “We basically believe more so in training on your feet. Stabilization, more explosiveness, power and strength; those are some of the things that, if you want to look at a broad view of what we do, would be involved in it. Posterior chain movements, back movements, core movements, corrective exercises (are involved) as well.”


I'm sure there are differences, but not as much as described in the video of the change from Penn State's HIT/machine style workouts.

HOU-TEX
02-06-2014, 12:36 PM
The old/'new coach' Cedric Smith was a fairly similar Olympic style work-out, and the machines had already been cleared out of the way back in 2010 to be replaced with power clean/manual weights, etc. :

(This a quote of Stephanie Stradley quoting a houstontexans article that is no longer available)


I'm sure there are differences, but not as much as described in the video of the change from Penn State's HIT/machine style workouts.

Thanks. I remember having the discussion with PN and a few others around here about Cedric getting rid of the machines.

I truly hope he's able to do something that can translate to more speed on the field. Maybe it was our patch work for a LB corps, I dunno, but it seemed like we were always a step slower

CloakNNNdagger
02-06-2014, 12:48 PM
Thanks. I remember having the discussion with PN and a few others around here about Cedric getting rid of the machines.

I truly hope he's able to do something that can translate to more speed on the field. Maybe it was our patch work for a LB corps, I dunno, but it seemed like we were always a step slower


Despite the original purported emphasis of Cedric on "losing" the machines, all indications from what I observed when passing the facility and from those I had opportunity to speak to, were that in practice, the machines were still a very significant part of the routine our players actually followed.

Mr teX
02-06-2014, 01:12 PM
Guy seems full of energy & he's taking the right approach. machines can only go so deep in working out your musculature. Anyone who's seriously worked out knows that it's those 2nd & 3rd layers of mostly core postural muscles that put you over the top in terms of strength & explosiveness.

& You usually can't get at those muscle groups with machines. Free weights and "action" type exercises are the best way. That's when you start hearing people say things like "i'm sore in places i never knew i had muscles at."

If it's anything like he stated in the video, His methods are gonna introduce alot of shock to their muscles & many of these guys are gonna find out they weren't as strong as they thought they were.

bah007
02-06-2014, 01:32 PM
I posted this over in the staff thread but I'll drop it here too since it applies:

Fitzgerald has a very solid reputation in the S&C community. I like this hire.

In this day and age it is really hard for me to believe that a top program like Penn St would have a S&C program based on HIT principles. In my experience, coaches who predominantly use HIT follow that style because they are unable to or uncomfortable trying to diagnose flaws in technique. Therefore, they don't want their players using heavy weights because the injury risk is magnified.

And machines don't put a premium on technique. They actually require no technique at all because the load can only move in a fixed range of motion.

The HIT style is fine and dandy if you play a sport that requires long term muscular endurance with little explosive power.

But football isn't like that. You need a certain level of endurance but each play is done at full speed and only lasts about five or six seconds at most. Because of that, you should train to maximize your ability to create power as quickly as possible so that you can make an impact within that small window of time.

The Olympic training method is IMO the best way to attain this. If you watch the video that CND linked you hear Fitzgerald talk about triple extension, which is the movement pattern from the ankle to the knee to the hip. The foundation of all explosive power comes from that movement and by mimicking those movements under a load in training you should be able to transfer that ability to the field.

Playoffs
02-06-2014, 01:32 PM
MEET CRAIG FITZGERALD (HIS PHILOSOPHY) (http://pennstate.scout.com/2/1159650.html)


Dead on carbon copy of a friend of mine who's a high school coach. They could be twins.

houstonspartan
02-06-2014, 02:20 PM
Commenting as a fan based on just what I've seen on the field the last few years, I have long wondered about our strength and conditioning program. Yes, every team has injuries, but, it always seemed as if our injuries were frequent, and recovery from them lasted longer than most teams.

Just an observation.

otisbean
02-06-2014, 06:16 PM
Guy seems full of energy & he's taking the right approach. machines can only go so deep in working out your musculature. Anyone who's seriously worked out knows that it's those 2nd & 3rd layers of mostly core postural muscles that put you over the top in terms of strength & explosiveness.


Huh? 2-3 layer of muscles is where strength and explosiveness comes from? As a 19yr strength I would disagree. Your deep core muscles are indeed important for spinal stabilization and posture but I'd say the glutes, quads and hammies are more important for strength and explosiveness

amazing80
02-06-2014, 07:35 PM
Meh, make them do insanity and p90x and they will be good ;)

Corrosion
02-06-2014, 08:39 PM
/derail

I'd rather see a change in the philosophy on the ass end of the defense with more physical play and no more damn 7-10 yard cushions for receivers.

/carry on

DBCooper
02-06-2014, 09:21 PM
/derail

I'd rather see a change in the philosophy on the ass end of the defense with more physical play and no more damn 7-10 yard cushions for receivers.

/carry on

Man to man.

The Pencil Neck
02-09-2014, 10:46 PM
I thought the LAST guys got rid of the machines? I thought the last guys went to a pure free weight approach?

And I'm not a fan of the HIT approach at all. HIIT is good; HIT, not so much. Especially for an athlete.

ObsiWan
02-10-2014, 02:42 PM
I thought the LAST guys got rid of the machines? I thought the last guys went to a pure free weight approach?

And I'm not a fan of the HIT approach at all. HIIT is good; HIT, not so much. Especially for an athlete.

Please translate for us couch potatoes who think lifting anything heavier than a 12-pack should be done with a fork lift...
:ohsnap:

Playoffs
02-10-2014, 02:52 PM
Please translate for us couch potatoes who think lifting anything heavier than a 12-pack should be done with a fork lift...
:ohsnap:

High Intensity Training; High Intensity Interval Training

The Pencil Neck
02-10-2014, 03:08 PM
Please translate for us couch potatoes who think lifting anything heavier than a 12-pack should be done with a fork lift...
:ohsnap:

HIT is primarily a workout routine for bodybuilding. It's not a performance oriented routine. You train each bodypart at most once a week. And when you train it, you train it to failure.

HIT was developed by Arthur Jones, the guy who developed Nautilus machines and an integral part of HIT was originally working with machines instead of free weights. It has a tendency to neglect connective tissue and for athletes, this can turn into a lot of injuries: strains, pulls, etc.

The best way to get a lot out of HIT is to take tons of steroids while you're doing it along with HGH to protect your connective tissue. Of course, that's true of any training regimen but it's even more true for a HIT based approach.

I prefer an Olympic Lift oriented routine that focuses on speed and power along with a bunch of moves that are designed to mimic in-game motions. Or even a powerlifting based routine. Athletes should not be training like bodybuilders.

HIIT, otoh, is an approach to aerobic work where you alternate intervals. The HIIT approach to aerobic work has a lot of good studies behind it. It's better than just getting on a treadmill for an hour.

eriadoc
02-10-2014, 03:23 PM
So our football team is going to do squats, bench, deadlift, and other compound lifts? Amazing new concept.

TheIronDuke
02-10-2014, 03:40 PM
So our football team is going to do squats, bench, deadlift, and other compound lifts? Amazing new concept.

I just hope they don't do curls in the squat rack.

Playoffs
02-22-2014, 05:41 PM
Jadeveon Clowney: Breer: Clowney 'very close' with HOU staffer (http://www.rotoworld.com/player/cfb/131251/jadeveon-clowney)

South Carolina edge player Jadeveon Clowney was "very close" to current Texans staffer, and former Gamecock strength coach, Craig Fitzgerald during the prospect's freshman year.

This is an interesting development. Obviously Clowney then spent two seasons without Fitzgerald on staff, but the connection can be made, especially with some questioning Clowney's work ethic.

infantrycak
02-22-2014, 06:18 PM
This was in the Swearinger interview except Swearinger was more honest and instead of saying they were close said Fitz stayed on Clowney's ass to make him pay attention and put out the effort.

Playoffs
02-22-2014, 06:35 PM
This was in the Swearinger interview except Swearinger was more honest and instead of saying they were close said Fitz stayed on Clowney's ass to make him pay attention and put out the effort.

Yeah, just makes me feel more comfortable that we'll have some direct, non-player knowledge to base a decision on if we select him.

thunderkyss
02-22-2014, 07:49 PM
This was in the Swearinger interview except Swearinger was more honest and instead of saying they were close said Fitz stayed on Clowney's ass to make him pay attention and put out the effort.

So we've got the motivation thing out of the way.

bah007
02-22-2014, 09:16 PM
So we've got the motivation thing out of the way.

I'd like to think so but the relationship with the S&C coach is different in the pros than it is in college.

The only person who's gonna keep Clowney motivated is Clowney, so if we take him let's hope he's got it.