Though it will be more than four months before the Packers hold their first training camp practice, much of the team's on-field success in 2004 will be determined by offseason events.
For the personnel staff, that means searching for free agents and evaluating potential draft picks. But for players, it means committing to a strength and conditioning program.
Vince Workman, a former player with the Packers from 1989-92 and now weight room assistant, is one of those in charge of helping players complete their workouts.
Starting at 8 a.m. every weekday, workouts begin every hour on the hour through 11 a.m. Each workout is designed to be completed in 60 minutes allowing other players to maintain a regimented schedule.
"If a player arrives at 8:05, he has to wait until the 9 o'clock workout," Workman said from his office, which is adjoined to the spacious Packers weight room in the lower level of the Lambeau Field Atrium.
"We start with running down at the Hutson Center, and then we bring them up here (to the stadium) to lift. Four days a week we do that, Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday we have a yoga/Pilates day."
The Monday through Thursday workouts are based on a schedule compiled by the team's strength and conditioning staff, which is headed by Barry Rubin with assistance from Mark Lovat and Workman. Each player receives a calendar that highlights activities scheduled for certain days.
"We hit everything," Workman said of the program. "As far as the running, we do a lot of agilities, we do plyometrics, we do speed work. For lifting, we do some Olympic lifts for explosion. We also do core lifts like the squat, the bench press and the dead lifts."
Friday's yoga and Pilates courses are designed to improve flexibility and overall balance while targeting an athlete's core strength.
"Your core is your lower back, abs and things like your hip flexors," Workman said. "Pilates is really good for the core."
Joseph Pilates designed the method of exercise that now bears his name around a series of physical movements intended to stretch and strengthen the body.
"We put (workouts) in the racquetball court," Workman said of the Friday session, which is usually attended by between 10 to 15 players. "We have an instructor who comes over from the YMCA, and she brings her yoga mats with her."
Aside from the change of pace on Fridays, the workout schedule also is adjusted for players who are coming off an injury.
"Depending on how far removed from the injury a player is and according to what the doctors say, if he is ready to do everything, we'll do everything. But some guys have modified workouts," Workman said. "Instead of doing squats, he might do leg presses. We might lay off leg extensions for somebody coming off a knee injury. They do whatever they can, but if they can't do certain things, we'll modify accordingly."
The spaciousness of the Packers' 62,000-square-foot weight room, which includes more than 50 different training stations, ensures that each athlete's individual needs can be addressed.
"Everybody can't do every exercise," Workman added. "Having this many machines in here allows us to have that variety. For example, somebody might do a safety squat if he has a bad shoulder and can't really rest the bar comfortably on his back. That way, they can still get the same benefits."
And it's those benefits that the strength and conditioning coaches hope will provide the Packers success on the field in 2004 and beyond.