Houston S&C Coach Jackson Interview

"The renovations of the weight room have made a huge difference. For those who may not know, we basically gutted the place and started over. The weight room looks like a whole new place as compared to how it used to look. By the time renovations are completed (at the end of this summer), there will be a new state-of-the-art floor, 16 combo platforms, new cardio equipment, dumbbells, weights etc."

JS - Coach there is always a lot of talk from fans about such and such player adding 20-30 lbs of muscle over such short durations. Please give us an idea of what is realistic and what you look for in an athlete when you begin your training.
LJ - An athlete can only put on about 8-12 pounds of lean muscle in a year. If an athlete gains 20-30 pounds in a short period of time, no matter how much they have been working out, the majority of that weight gain is from fat, not muscle.

When evaluating an athlete for the first time, I determine how much body fat they have and depending on their position, how much they need to have. On occasion I will ask a player to add body mass, for example an undersized lineman, but most of my time is spent trying to trim the players down, add lean muscle mass, and increase their speed and flexibility.

JS - How do body types affect the style of training for a particular athlete?
LJ - It's not the body type that affects the style of training, it's the position played that affects the style of training. The type of training that I do for an offensive lineman is completely different than the training I do for a defensive back. Offensive lineman play within a 5-20 yard space, they kick back to pass protect, fire off the ball to block a defensive lineman, etc. A defensive back plays the entire field, they have to backpedal, sprint, and cut. Because these two positions require such different activities on the field, they require different training off the field.

JS - Is the summer time considered a weed out process to isolate those who have not been working hard enough to reach their conditioning targets and goals?
LJ - Summer training is used to prepare our athletes for the upcoming season, both mentally and physically. My goal is to make summer training harder than anything they will endure during the season. If the players can successfully make it through summer training, then I know they are well prepared to compete at a high level during the season.

JS - Please compare our team's conditioning currently to what it was at this point last year?
LJ - Our players have made great strides. Their conditioning level now is equal to what it was at the end of last summer and we still have 6 weeks left to go. This summer I am able to use some new equipment that I didn't use last summer because the players needed more time to adapt to this new style of training. Now, after going through more than a year with me, they are able to handle it and I can really pour it on.

JS - Have you noticed a change in attitude and the players reception to your brand of conditioning.
LJ - Yes, definitely. When I first got here I think the players were skeptical. However, when they played in games and were able to recover much faster than before and had enough stamina to last 4 quarters, they realized the importance of the training and were thankful to have gone through it. Now, they know what a difference effective training makes and are eager to participate.

JS - What were the biggest changes you had to make from the previous strength and conditioning program and to the players?
LJ - One area that needed attention was mobility and conditioning. I changed the focus and geared the workouts more toward linear, lateral, and agility training. I've never had a football coach tell me that his players are too fast and that I needed to slow them down. Speed is everything. It's a lot easier to get a weak player stronger than it is to get a slow player faster. My viewpoint is to train movements, not muscles. Being strong is important, but I don't believe it's the most important thing. My goal is to try and closely mimic what happens out on the playing field in the weight room. Playing in a football game is an extremely intense experience. I felt that the overall intensity of the program needed to be heightened as well. By doing these things, our players not only moved better on the field, but were able to outlast their opponents.

JS - When we step on the field September 1, will our team be in better condition than the opponent? Or at least as good?
LJ - I can't speculate on any other team's level of conditioning. I'm certain that our team will be in better condition than they were last season.

JS - Are there any players you feel have really stepped up as leaders in the off season program?
LJ - We lost a lot of senior leadership last season so I was not sure what to expect for this season. You always wonder who is going to step up and take control. There are a number of players who are starting to become leaders, but it's still a bit early to single out any specific player.

JS - In the past I have read about some programs using diet plans in parallel with conditioning. Are we doing that now?
LJ - My goal is to promote healthy eating, not dieting. These players expend a tremendous amount of energy. I want them to take in a lot of calories, but they need to be good quality calories, not junk. For the guys who need to lose weight working out, in conjunction with a healthy diet, usually does the trick.

We would like to know how much the renovations to the weight room have helped our current conditioning program and how much more still needs to be done to the facility.
LJ - The renovations of the weight room have made a huge difference. For those who may not know, we basically gutted the place and started over. The weight room looks like a whole new place as compared to how it used to look. By the time renovations are completed (at the end of this summer), there will be a new state-of-the-art floor, 16 combo platforms, new cardio equipment, dumbbells, weights etc. This has and will further enable us to get a lot more work done in a shorter amount of time. Other sports are able to workout at the same time as football without them getting in each other's way. The facility is first-class and is very impressive to new recruits as well.

One thing I'd like to mention is about my staff (Dale Jones, Chad Dennis and Al James). They each put in a lot of time and sweat and really help make the whole program run smoothly. Thanks guys.

Which is the hardest working group on the team? LBs? DBs? etc.
LJ - There really is not one group that works harder than the rest. These guys are human and some days are better than others. It's my job to keep them upbeat and focused on the task at hand. I always remind them that they are preparing to win. Winning doesn't just happen.

How many years do you expect it to take a player to reach their full physical potential under your system?
LJ - If I'm doing my job correctly, every year that a player goes through my program, he will improve. Hopefully, I will never get the opportunity to see a player reach his full potential because he will be competing at the next level.



Coach, we all realize what a positive affect you have made on our strength and conditioning program. Thanks for your tireless efforts.

maddog99


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