Grid offseason starts now

The Rebel football players have gone home for the holidays, but there is still work to do. Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Ausmus discusses what he expects from the Rebels in the next few months. Read about it inside.

Being a successful and productive SEC football player requires a year-round commitment to excellence.

Ole Miss Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Ausmus understands that as much as anyone.

"Physical development of players is a never-ending process that goes in stages," Ausmus said recently. "Our players are about to enter a very critical stage of setting the foundation for the 2006 season."

When the Rebels come back from the Christmas break around mid-January, they will embark on a seven-week "journey" in the weight room that is the backbone of their strength training for the entire year.

"The seven weeks after Christmas break are the most important time of the year for us in the weight room," said Ausmus. "We have a seven-week window to develop our strength base and get as strong as we possibly can.

"Everything requires a strength base. To get faster, you have to get stronger. To condition well, you have to be strong. This upcoming seven weeks is the basis that we will build on. Our emphasis during that time will be on strength. We will do some conditioning so the players will be in shape for spring training, but the majority of the work done will be on strength and making strength gains."

Ausmus is the first to admit that upcoming seven weeks is a grind, but it doesn't have to be brutal if the players prepare for it properly.

"We've given them a holiday workout schedule that is voluntary. It is four hours a week. It's a four-hour-a-week commitment with some strength work and some conditioning work so they can hit the ground running when they get back here," he explained. "If they do that, the seven weeks of intensive strength training is not as hard and they will be ready to start making strength gains immediately.

"If they do not, it will take their bodies a week or two to adjust to the demands of the seven week schedule and they will not start making gains until their bodies adjust. I can tell in the first 10 minutes of the first workout who has made a commitment during the break and who hasn't. Taking care of their business during the break with a four-hour commitment is critical, very important."

After the seven weeks of strength training, the Rebels will go into spring training, where Ausmus' job will be to make sure the players maintain the strength they gained in January and February.

"We will lift during spring, but it's a maintenance program. We want them to stay as strong as possible, but we also want them fresh for pratice," he explained. "The strength workouts will be similar to the maintenance program we have during the season."

After spring training, the Rebels will take a couple of weeks preparing for their max tests in strength, speed, agility and jumping. Then they will be maxed before school is out in May.

"We will emphasize the 40-yard dash, agility tests, vertical and broad jumps, and the 225 rep test. Then we will test them in all these skills," Ausmus noted.

When summer rolls around, the emphasis will change.

"Conditioning becomes as big a factor as strength in the summer leading up to August practice," said Ausmus. "You can't maximize both at the same time. That has been proven. When you are emphasizing getting them stronger, conditioning suffers. When you condition for August practice, strength suffers. You have to find the right mix and go more toward conditioning and maintaining strength as the season approaches."

For now, the spotlight is on players being committed - on their own - during the holiday break for four hours a week.

Then, the cycle of the season starts off with a bang.

"We will be throwing a lot of weights around in January and February and the players who are committed to our system will show excellent gains," he closed.

Sidebar: Ausmus and the Ole Miss S&C staff is holding a Strength Clinic for all JUCO, high school and junior high coaches who wish to learn more about how Division I athletes train. The clinic will be Saturday, Feb. 11th. Call 1-662-915-1599 or e-mail Ausmus at for further information.

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