Off-Season Strength And Conditioning Program Starts Monday


In 2006, the Green Bay Packers made considerable improvement during the nearly four months between their 26-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in the season opener and their 26-7 victory over those same Bears in the season finale.

But Head Coach Mike McCarthy believes the next four months are going to be even more critical in the development of his team.

On Monday, March 19, the Packers will start their off-season strength and conditioning program, which will be conducted four days per week between the Don Hutson Center and the team's weight room in the lower level of Lambeau Field.

The program will last nine weeks, leading up to the team's mandatory mini-camp in mid-May, which will be followed by four weeks of organized team activities (OTAs) in June prior to the start of training camp in late July.

"I think our football team will develop more over these next four months than any other time between now and the season," McCarthy said.

"The No. 1 priority is to improve the overall strength and conditioning of our football team. I'm very excited about the plan we've set forth from the design of it and the scheduling of it. We're going to go nine weeks of pure strength and conditioning, where each player has the opportunity to make significant gains."

With more than 70 players under contract, the Packers expect strong attendance for the off-season program. Last year, McCarthy said he saw about a 20 percent increase in attendance over previous years, and he's hoping for another 10-15 percent increase this year.

"You do have some older veteran players, and I'm not naïve to the fact that they have done it a certain way for a long time, and the bottom line is they get themselves ready to play," McCarthy said.

"But for the younger players and the newer players to our program, it's essential for them to be here and keep building and take full advantage of the plan that's been laid out for them."

That plan has essentially three components - core strength workouts, functional movement exercises, and specific individual needs.

While core strength will be the focus in the weight room, each day's activities will begin in the Hutson Center with the functional movement exercises, or drills that can be tailored to a certain position group as the program progresses, such as those designed to improve lateral movement for a linebacker or backpedaling for a cornerback.

{sportsad300}McCarthy's quarterback school will be going on at the same time, with the quarterbacks doing scheme evaluations, working on fundamentals, and getting the new installations for the offense prior to the rest of the team.

Packers strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson and his staff also will be educating the players on the different phases of the training program, so they understand the function of each workout and how they can best maximize their time to achieve the gains they'd like to see.

The staff also will work with players on specific individual needs that will be identified by the pre-workout testing all the players will go through on the first day.

"Typically you have six or seven weeks before they start into the football part of it, but this year Coach has given us nine weeks to work with the guys before we get to the first mini-camp," Gullickson said. "The veterans have a nice long progression in their training cycle that will really enable us to reach a higher peak physically, strength-wise and power-wise, than what we had last year."

The players, who will have workout times in either the early, mid or late morning, will have breakfast provided at the team facility to help provide proper nutrition for their workouts.

They'll also take advantage of the altitude training simulator being installed in the cardio area of the weight room. It consists of an enclosed tent that simulates the conditions at high altitudes, filtering out some of the oxygen and thereby forcing the body to produce more red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the system.

"By training or resting at altitude, the body is making this adaptation so guys can have more energy in the fourth quarter, the last part of practice, whatever it may be," Gullickson said.

McCarthy and his staff believe the off-season program will be a benefit to all the players, whether they've been in the NFL one year or 10.

Gullickson said most athletes will peak out physically after about 10 to 15 years of training. Most football players start training around 14 or 15 years old, meaning they'll peak somewhere between 25 and 30 years old.

So players in that age range and younger are still developing and looking for significant gains in their training, while older players can use the program to help maintain their current levels of strength and conditioning, or try to return to their peak marks.

"The guys here now are anxious to get started," Gullickson said. "The feedback has been real positive, and a lot of that comes from being successful at the end of the season. The guys seem eager to see how far we can take this thing."

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