Mendoza Talks Conditioning

Ruben Mendoza weighed 13 pounds at birth. That's not surprising, considering Notre Dame's Strength and Conditioning Coordinator is one the biggest men in northern Indiana. Mendoza met with the media following Saturday morning's practice. Here is the transcript.

You said when you came in last year, it usually takes about a year or so to see the kind of gains that you are hoping to see. Are you on track with the guys that have been here for a year?

"Being here a year and a half, I am really excited in the things we've accomplished in a year and a half. Everything starts with our legs. We have right now, I would imagine we have 20 kids that squat 600 pounds or close to it. Everything is ground based that we do, but it starts with your legs. Again with football you have to play on the ground, so one of my concerns was our leg strength when I first got here. I'm really really excited in the things that we've done in a year and a half."

Do you think that was because there wasn't a whole lot of squating going on the years before?

"That was probably a big part of it. We went from leg pressing to squating. I think to get stronger you have to put pressure not only on the muscular system but also on the skeletal system. They all go hand and hand. We set goals for them for the summer, reasonable goals that we thought could be reached and they pretty much, 98 percent of them reached their goals. We are taking the right steps. Their attitudes and work ethics are everything I've asked for."

What happens to the two percent that don't reach their goals?

"You'd like to have a 100 percent, but it's just sometimes kids don't respond to some of the things we are doing. So we just have to look back and see what we've done with the kids and readjust their program."

Is there one guy who kind of stood out?

I think as a team there wasn't one guy. Brady Quinn had a good summer, was here all summer since May. Dan Santucci the same thing, was here all summer since May. On the defensive side, Victor Abiamiri, (Pat) Kuntz, Derek Landri had a great summer for us, (Chris) Frome had a great summer for us. In a sense everything we tried to do was more team-oriented. Like I said, there are individuals that had great improvements. (Michael) Turkovich had a great summer for me. I think as a team, I'm really excited in the direction we're going, just overall strength, our leg strength, our Olympic movements, the snatches the power cleans, they have all improved on that stuff. It's really positive."

How do you take a guy, like say a (Chinedum Ndukwe) who Charlie (Weis) said had to lose weight, versus a guy like (Anthony) Vernaglia who has put on weight?

"We have a full-time nutritionist on our staff. Of course we analyze what they eat. We go and plan with the sense of whether they need to gain or lose. Abbie Richey does an outstanding job for us. We hired her last August and she has been with us for about a year. She does a great job with our kids."

When you working out in the summer, do you tailor it for each individual guy or based on position?

The percentages are based off their one-rep max. So it is individualized, but there is a general program that everybody has to follow. Everybody works on triple extensions which are Olympic movements. Everybody squats, everybody benches, everybody does a supplemental list. In the sense you get personalized, everybody works off their own numbers and percentages so it does get a little personal for them."

Weis has said a couple of times, people are going to have to party at 6 a.m. with Ruben. What does that entail?

"We have early morning groups so we start early. I usually get to work at about five o'clock in the morning and we start our first group at six. Our biggest group is at six a.m."

How many people do you generally work out with?

"I have a pretty big staff. I have five full-time strength coaches, so there is basically 40-45 people in here at a time."

Did you have to change the attitude the team had in the weight room when you first got here?

"When I first got here, I basically taught all the lifts for three months. Not change their attitudes, they all had great attitudes and wanted to work. It just was a different system I had to teach so there was a lot of technical stuff."

You have O-lineman that are over 300 that look like they weigh 275. In other words streamline the mass. How important is that to the overall development in terms of strength?

"You want their body fat down because you want to help their body. So again, going back to our nutritionist having a plan in a sense of eating the right types of food to reduce their body fat. And running plays a big part of that over the summer in the things we've done. A combination of eating right and running, they're going to lose body fat."

Is there a percentage of body fat you look for in lineman?

"Lineman, they will go from about 18 to 22 percent, that's what we are looking for."

How about running backs?

"The running backs, between 8 and 10 percent. We want body fat on those guys because not only is it healthy but it also protects vital organs, so we want a little bit of body fat on our athletes."

Who has the least body fat?

"I'd say Rhema McKnight is probably one of them. (Leo) Ferrine, (Michael) Richardson, they are in the four to five percent range, so they are real lean."

How much thrill do you get in a project guy like Chris Stewart coming in and you kind of have to reshape them?

"Chris was about two big macs away from 400 pounds. He just had the right attitude and wanted to lose the weight. Weighed him in before he reported at 349 pounds, so he really worked hard."

For guys that are trying to lose weight, do you hold his picture up and say look what you can do in one summer?

"I'm glad that he got here in January because it was from January to now where he has really worked. We set his goals with Abbie Richey and we just had a plan for him. There were times I really had to push him because he'd kind of plateau at times. Of course we tried to increase his cardio a little bit to stimulate the metabolism. He's really worked hard."

His flexibility?

"He is unbelievable flexible. He has great feet. Once he gets healthy I look for big things from him."

What did he eat?

"He was eating the right things, he just consumed too much of them. We kind of just limited him to the amount he was eating." Top Stories