Functional Improvement

West Virginia got a good bit of the newest and most technologically advanced equipment when it upgraded its football weight room last year, but Director of Strength and Conditioning Mike Joseph believes that two simpler aspects of the upgrade have paid the most dividends.

That's not to say that Joseph thinks the new equipment, which included some new machines, revamped plates and much safer lifting surfaces weren't needed. All of those items have contributed to a more efficient workout environment in the Puskar Center. However, Joseph sees a pair of more fundamental aspects of the upgrades as having benefited the Mountaineers the most.

"We didn't dramatically change equipment," Joseph said after releasing the team for a two week break prior to the start of summer workouts. "Obviously we upgraded to newer state of the art models of equipment, and we got new racks, new bumpers and new plates. But probably the biggest thing was the floor platforms and the space. The platforms weren't inlaid in the floor, and the floor was broken up, and it was slanted and uneven. There was a lot of wasted working space.

"With the new layout, we took some of the walls down that were breaking up the space, and functionally it's so much better."

The benefits of new platforms might not seem like much, but the move from the old, raised surfaces to new decks, which are inlaid at floor level, provides a much safer environment. Lifter that slip or move don't have to worry about toppling off the platforms and sustaining injuries, or dropping weights onto an uneven surface.

"It's one of the best weight rooms in the country, and it turned out even better than we thought." -- Mike Joseph

Overall, the redesigned space, which added about 1,500 square feet to the weightroom, has contributed to a more enthusiastic state of mind for the team.

"I think aesthetically it helps," Joseph said. "Kids want to come in and work out. It's impressive from the outside looking in, but for our student-athletes, it's a great place to get motivated. The proximity to the meeting rooms, the locker rooms, the dining area, and to academics, all of that was always great, but now it's even better. We have every piece of equipment we need, and it has a lot more functional space.

As holders of one of the most advanced spaces in the nation, Joseph and his staff have hosted visits from other strength and conditioning coaches, as well as representatives of equipment manufacturers. They are looking to see how WVU has incorporated equipment into its new area, and what advantages it has gained.

"Hammer and Iron Grip has sent in reps and strength coaches that I am peers with have come in and visited," Joseph confirmed. "They see what we are doing and what they are doing with their weight rooms. It's one of the best weight rooms in the country, and it turned out even better than we thought."

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