Chat with Boyd Epley

Boyd Epley has been called the father of modern strength and conditioning at the collegiate level. Much of what he has done has been copied throughout the nation. NU fans have enjoyed success due in great part to Epley's work. He started more than a method to better develop muscles and improve conditioning, he set forth a movement that has been studied almost since his arrival. Mr. Epley chatted today here at HC. See the full story for the questions asked and coach Epley's answers.

Welcome to Husker Connection. Coach Boyd Epley was kind enough to take time out of his day to come chat with us here at HC. To better serve you, we archived all the great questions and aswers for you to be able to review at your convenience. If you didn't have the chance to attend the chat, have no fear, because all of the coache's answers are here. Enjoy

  Questions will be in white and coach Epley's responses will be in brown.              

Boyd Epley: "I would like to welcome everyone and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have."

HuskerKid: "What are your thoughts on the creatine monohydrate and supplements in general?"

"We typically qualify a candidate for using creatine based on how well their weight gain efforts have gone and if they still need to gain more weight. Just about all young male athletes in high school want to gain weight. First they should have been consistently following a well designed resistance training program for more than a year."

"Next they would need to illustrate that they were truly attempting to eat four times per day following a healthy diet. If the answer to these two questions is yes then our first weight gain plan is to support the regular diet with more calories. We want a commitment to the lifting program and we would look at lifestyle issues concerning sleep and extra activities that may slow recovery."

DCHusker86: "Which players on the team on the team are weight room junkies?"

"Ryon Binghman, Chad Kelsay, Richie Incognito, Wes Cody, Demoine Adams. Right now, we are not encouraging a lot of effort in the weight room. The in-season lifting program begins monday. And then, it is four days a week from then on."

Fred: There was an article in Sports Illustrated about Arizona State being the best weight room facility and not Nebraska being the best. What are your thoughts on that?

"July 22nd, Sports Illustrated called and wanted to take a photo but because of the construction going on, that wouldn't be possible. So, they said we could wait until August first and I said that we still wouldn't be ready. They refused to use the photo we had available that was taken by Rick Anderson, but SI wanted to do their own. They didn't want to use our photo. They did say they would come back and take a picture of it in the Fall as the best weight room in the country, but because they didn't have a photo of our weight room, they went to ASU instead."

BornAgainHusker: When you first started at the University, did you ever envision that your program, the association that you started and the reputation that Nebraska has for strength and conditioning would become the entity that it is today?

"As I look back I have a lot to be proud of. The association had it's 25th conference in Vegas recently and asked me to speak along with Bo Jackson. It has 25,000 members now and started with 76 members here in Lincoln in 1978. I've seen a lot of change from lifting being made fun of to something that is now respected. It's been a lot of fun along the way. "

MO: How has Thunder managed to put on weight this year and keep it on?

"He had a consistent Summer. That's all he needed. He just needed to apply himself. He did a good job watching his diet and working hard in the weight room and it should be exciting to watch him this fall."

HuskerCrazy: Are you involved in the recruiting process of high school football players?

"Recruiting is the most important part of my job. I get 20-30 minutes with each player and also meet many of the recruits from other sports. I usually ask them two questions at some point during the visit. One is what makes them so good? The other is how can we help you get better? Depending on their answers to those questions I can get a good feel for where they are and what they need to get done physically."

ScarletGenius: Has the strength and conditioning staff suffered losses in personnel over the past few years and if so, what effect has that had on the overall individualized training that each athlete receives?

"Our staff has a pecking order like any staff does. We have never lost a #1 Boyd Epley, #2 Mike Arthur, #3, Randy Gobel, or #4 Bryan Bailey, but have lost 45 others. This past year we lost a number 5 (Zach Duval - Assistant Strength Coach that worked with football defensive backs) which caused a major adjustment. We actually have three #5's. Courtney Carter who works with Volleyball, Soccer and Softball, and Chad Wade who was at the Sports Center with Basketball. We were forced to bring Chad over to the West Stadium to cover for Zach and hired another #5 in Rodger DeGarmo to handle Basketball. The staff is now set as we have filled our intern and G.A. positions for the year. I might add they are the best we've ever had. We do however, have a mentoring program in place to bring them along as needed. Losing a #5 though throws off even the best mentoring program."

TF_HuskerPower25: How dedicated is the Husker baseball team to weight training?

"Nebraska baseball does a great job in the weight room and is one of the strongest teams in the country. The New York Yankees use our program and they actually have a coach from Nebraska that has installed this program there, Jeff Mangold."

HuskerDu: What is the status of the new fitness center? Is Nebraska close to having the funding for it?

"We could not raise the $100 million to build a new building so we have decided to upgrade the equipment in the existing facility. We have 10 more days to get the project finished before recuits will visit at the first game."

K-Kill: When is a good time to encourage kids to start lifting?

"For many years, there was confusion over determining the right age to begin lifting for children. In August of 1985, eight major sports medicine groups met to prescribe guidelines for prepubescent strength training. The general consensus from this meeting was that strength training for prepubescent boys and girls can be started at any age. They concluded that strength training is safe, for prepubescents with the proper equipment, program, instruction and supervision. The key is whether the child is mature enough to accept instruction. Our experience is that most children are ready by age 10."

FlaHusker: Is there any new technique or specific weight training to address knee injuries?

"The best exercise to strengthen the knees is by doing the squat. That is the best way to prevent the injury in the first place."

DarthHusker: Plyometrics seem to be a hot topic these days. Compare and contrast plyometric concepts to the 10 Principles of Husker Power. Do you agree with plyometric exercises such as drop-jump to improve explosive power? Are plyometrics consistent with the program designed by you and your staff at Husker Power?

"We choose to do hang cleans instead of plyometrics. We have not found any research showing where plo's have improved performance."

ArizonaHusker: What are the biggest changes that you see today versus 10 years ago in the freshman players as they arrive at college for the first time?

"The freshman are much larger than they have ever been before. The average Husker now, is 238 lbs. The NFL actually reported that the Atlanta Falcons has a 400 lbs. athlete which has never happened before. Athletes are just getting larger across the country."

Chad: Chris Kelsay appears fully recovered from his shoulder surgery. Is he at full strength?

"Chris is ready to go and should have a great season this year."

BigRedNation: What do you think of the systems out there that copy what Nebraska does?

"We don't let them copy the important stuff. We just added 14 machines that were custom made for us. The company (Rivers Metal) has agreed not to make them for anyone else. They weigh 2500 lbs. and cost $25,000 each."

Darth: I have a question about former linemen trying to slim down after their career is over. Do they ever work with the Husker Power staff to shed the bulk from their playing days?

"We do work with former athletes and provide them with a program, but unless they are competing, they don't tend to come around and work with us. The ones that do still come around are the ones that are still in professional football. We also have former Volleyball players that continue to train here as well. Also, Soccer. We have professional Soccer and basketball actually as well."

Kutt: What do you think causes athletic pubitis?

"There was a case study done in 1999 that indicated that some of our players who had this injury blamed the cause on the squat. They indicated they first noticed the pain in their groin doing squats. The fact is there is no scientific proof that the squat has ever caused one of these injuries. Even our own team physician, Dr. Pat Clare will tell you the injury is an overuse injury. This means the cutting, turning, twisting, starting and stopping action that athletes are involved with have a lot to do with this injury. That's why you see European soccer players with this injury even though they have never squatted. The squat has no replacement in terms of value to an athlete that needs to gain weight or improve speed. Unfortunately when one of our athletes is found to have a groin injury like this they are restricted by our medical staff. Once restricted, development for that athlete is also restricted and recovery takes several months. Because of this we have searched for alternative ways to load the legs without stress to the back or groin. None of the exercises however, have been able to replace the benefits of the squat."

DarthHusker: Are more high schools hiring strength coaches? I know there has been an effort to put them in Nebraska high schools.

"What happened there was , Jerry Murtaugh has been raising money to hire high school strength coaches in Omaha. One of them came from our program actually."

HuskaRed: Why don't you focus on the bench press like other schools do?

"We use to, in fact we had a Bench Press club that recognized athletes that could do 300 lbs. or more. Eventually Middle Guard, Lawrence Pete, did 500 lbs. and we felt there was too much emphasis on the exercise. While it remains a popular exercise the fact is it doesn't have as much carry over value to athletics as ground based exercises like the squat and clean. When the athlete is laying on their back with a board providing stabilization it takes away from the athletes development. In order to shift our emphasis we eliminated the bench press from our record keeping and moved the records to the museum. You can find records that are no longer kept in the history section on this (HuskerPower) web site. In 2002 we started having the football players do the NFL bench press test which calls for 225 lbs. done for as many reps as possible in one set."

ColHusker: What is your opinion on the team this year?

"We have a lot of young players that don't necessarily have game experience, but I think they will step up to the challenge. It should make each game very competitive. As to the defensive line, we have seven or eight that will be battling it out for those positions and it should be one of the strongest positions on the team."

Here are some additional questions that were submitted that we didn't have time to get to?

If you were to retire or leave Nebraska, who would be your replacement.

"Bill Byrne would determine my replacement but he would have trouble finding anyone better than Mike Arthur our current Associate Director of the Performance Team.  Mike has been with me for over twenty years and is responsible for many of the cutting edge developments in our program over the years. Assistant Director, Randy Gobel does a tremendous job with the facility and the operartion of the program,while Bryan Bailey does a great job of cutting edge program research.  Mike Arthur would be my choice to head the Performance Team for the future. 

The past couple of years I have tried to assign more of my daily duties to these men.  There are a few things that I haven't been able to let go such as the budget but Mike Arthur is now creating the program and overseeing the implementation of the programs for all sports, When Tom Osborne retired Frank was able to retain the other coaches which maintained the excellence we enjoyed in football. If Mike Arthur was named Director of the Performance Team, and was able to retain Randy, Bryan, and the other strength coaches we have in place, there would be no drop off in the performance of Nebraska athletes.  These directors have my respect, they do a tremendous job and have dedicated their entire careers to Nebraska and yet they get very little credit for their effort. 

Nebraska is unique in this area.  These are not your normal run of the mill employees.  Their contribution is seen on the field of play or on the court or in the pool by everyone. We have all become accustomed to seeing Nebraska being the most physically dominate teams in the country.  Nebraska has the most recognized strength and nutrition program in the history of college athletics. It is pretty hard to identify how much strength or nutrition contributes in sports but we have shown it can be the difference.  It's actually the people that make that difference and I'd like to congratulate our entire Performance Team for their tremendous contribution."

It is pretty well understood that Nebraska has the best strength and conditioning program in the country, what school is considered second?

"It is very difficult to express in writing the distance between Nebraska's strength program and the next program.  I'm sure the other programs would argue but when you consider the number of full-time certified strength coaches, the size of the facility, the support of the administration, the size of budget, and all the services that are available to Nebraska athletes, we don't feel comfortable being compared to a number two.  We often joke about this to give some perspective to the distance between Nebraska and the other programs by saying if there was a contest of strength and conditioning programs that Nebraska would finish first, second and third.  This ofcouse is stretching the truth a little because Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in our own conference have closed the gap considerably in the last few years but it gets you thinking about how big the gap has been.  The fact is, you can ask anyone in any state at high school, college or the pro level and they will tell you Nebraska is clearly number one in this field. My job is to keep it that way."

What's the best way to get on the Nebraska strength program?

"The easiest way for an athlete to get on the path is to purchase a Make the Play manual Many athletes do this from across the nation.  One of our scholarship offensive linemen from Seward, Nebraska bought a book when he was 12 years old and starting training to be a Husker.  The problem with a book is the athlete still needs to read it and implement the program on his own.

A better way to get on the path to becoming a Husker is to attend a one day camp.  Chad Wade the Camp Coordinator and other Performance Team members offer one day camps in June where athletes are shown how to use the book to train for the remainder of the summer as they prepare for their fall sports.

The best way to improve performance is to attend Performance 101 camp.  Here the Clint Dominick and the Performance Team actually trains 10-12 grade athletes four times a week for six weeks. For young athletes just getting started there is Performance 100 a one month camp for 10-14 year olds to learn proper lifting technique offered in April only. Courtney Carter heads this program for younsters."

Boyd Epley: "I would like to thank everyone for attending. It's been an enjoyable time and I hope I had a chance to answer most of your questions. Please make sure to visit HuskerPower.com also, because you will be able to see even more information about a lot of the topics we covered today. There is a lot of good information there, so stop by and check it out. Again, thanks for having me."


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