After new strength and conditioning coach Dave Redding's presentation at Fan Fest on Saturday, running back Ryan Grant hopped up on the stage. He looked at the big screen hanging in the fourth-floor conference room in the Lambeau Field Atrium and gazed at a portion of Redding's PowerPoint presentation. It included the nuts and bolts of the Packers' offseason program that would start in a couple of days.
Mike McCarthy is the coach and Dom Capers is the new defensive coordinator. But starting on Monday, Redding takes center stage. During his end-of-season purging, McCarthy fired Rock Gullickson – voted the NFL's top strength and conditioning coach for the 2007 season – and replaced him with Redding, who in 2006 won the NFL's strength and conditioning coach award and was inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame.
Redding had been out of the league for two seasons, working as sports director for a nutrition company and a nutrition and fitness consultant. But he jumped at the opportunity to replace Gullickson. When he was a kid growing up in Nebraska, Redding remembers running sprints while wearing a University of Nebraska football jersey and Green Bay Packers helmet.
"If Nebraska lost on Saturday and Green Bay lost on Sunday, I was in therapy on Monday," he joked.
During his presentation to a few hundred fans on Saturday, Redding delivered a message that was as pertinent to the players as it was to the partisans: Eat well and work hard, but don't overdo it.
Redding will put the players through two-hour workouts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The workouts, Redding said, are high in intensity. If an athlete can work out for more than 2 hours, then he's not working hard enough, Redding said.
To Redding, a player's maximum bench press or squat means little.
"I've had guys who couldn't bench press their sister but were All-Pros," Redding said. "I've had guys who could bench press the world but couldn't make the team."
Along with just basic strength training, Redding said he'll focus on balance, coordination, flexibility and conditioning. Speed and quickness are important, too, but the kind of training that the college prospects are doing now in hopes of improving their 40-yard times to impress scouts isn't the type of training Redding incorporates. Football skills, like starting and stopping on a dime – Redding singled out Donald Driver in that regard – are what matter to Redding.
"I've never seen a track guy do a football workout," he said. "The only time a player runs in a straight line is during introductions."
Redding was born and raised in Nebraska and played collegiately for the Cornhuskers in the 1970s. While there, strength training came into vogue, and Redding recalled working out three days a week. Then four days a week. Then five, then six.
It was when Redding cut back to three workouts a week that he started to see significant gains in the weight room. So, in this regard, gym rats need not apply.
"It was too much, too hard, too often," he said, adding: "You don't grow in the weight room. That happens on Wednesday and Saturday when you're off."
A big emphasis for Redding is proper nutrition. The adage "You are what you eat" is true, he said.
"Most athletes take better care of their car than their own body," Redding said, comparing putting junk food in an athlete to putting diesel fuel in a high-performance car.
That means whole grains, whole fruits (not fruit juice), lean meats and cutting back on sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup) and fast food. Supplements are important, Redding said, because today's foods aren't as nutritious as the foods of a couple generations ago. He called energy drinks "dangerous" because they can be loaded with caffeine and sugar, and said it's vital to remain hydrated. Sweating away 3 percent to 5 percent of a person's fluids results in an 8 percent to 10 percent decrease in performance, he said.
The 56-year-old Redding is anything but the stereotypical yelling and screaming strength coach. He's mellow and cerebral, but those who know him say he's a terrific motivator. That's why he was brought from team to team by Marty Schottenheimer for more than 20 NFL seasons.
At the end of the day, Redding said it's, "My job to help their body stay glued together." That's a big task, especially in light of the numerous nagging injuries that helped torpedo last season.
"(Football) is the most grueling sport known to man," Redding said. That means high-intensity workouts that push the players to their brink once per session. It's all part of preparing for game days. It's all part of being ready for that moment when, exhausted, it's up to that player to make the winning catch, critical block or saving tackle.
"When that moment comes," Redding said, "you're ready to kick that door down."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum. Bill also is giving Twitter a try. Find him at twitter.com/packerreport