This is interesting.
Packers make commitment to new training program
By BOB McGINN
Posted: March 22, 2006
Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers met coach Mike McCarthy's request for $200,000 of new equipment in the weight room in hopes of fielding a stronger, better conditioned and healthier team.
"It's something we're putting a major emphasis on," McCarthy said this week. "We're making a huge commitment in that area. That's the foundation, the starting point, of our program."
McCarthy is a keen advocate of using free weights rather than machines. That's the main reason why he fired strength coach Barry Rubin and hired former New Orleans Saints strength coach Rock Gullickson.
A believer in machine lifting, Rubin served for 11 years in Green Bay, including the last seven as the top man.
"This is what Mike wanted and then Rock fulfilled his needs," Packers President Bob Harlan said. "Barry Rubin was totally the other way. That's why he made the change in that position."
During his interview, Gullickson visited Rubin's weight room and saw that major changes would be essential if he were to accept the job. Shortly after hiring Gullickson on Jan. 19, McCarthy informed general manager Ted Thompson that he wanted to switch from machines to free weights.
Thompson approached Harlan. Without hesitation, Harlan approved the allocation of $200,000, an extraordinary measure given that the Packers' existing equipment wasn't considered outdated by any means. The machines are being donated to St. Norbert College and various charities.
"I'd feel very badly if we had said 'no' to that right off the bat," Harlan said. "I think it's a bad way to start the relationship. The other stuff wasn't that old but it just didn't make sense to not let him have what he needed."
According to McCarthy, the Packers added nine power racks to an area where the majority of lifts will be performed.
"It's a whole different environment from the weight-machine standpoint and from the way we're going to train them," McCarthy said. "It's all rapid-force movement. Explosion. And you obviously have the element of balance there. It was done first-class and our guys have really dived into it."
Asked if he thought the Packers lacked strength as a team under Rubin and coach Mike Sherman, McCarthy replied, "I don't want to get into what happened in the past. All I know is I want a strong football team."
McCarthy described the hiring of Gullickson, with whom he worked in New Orleans from 2000-'04, as one of his most important staff decisions.
"I've seen first-hand what he can do with professional athletes," McCarthy said. "We're going to treat the weight room like a practice area. You find out a lot about a guy in a weight room. It's a great environment to teach group dynamics. It's the starting point of the chemistry of your football team."
The Packers are coming off another season in which they had more than their share of injuries. Not only that but Sherman complained for much of August about the numerous muscle pulls that kept players from practicing.
After finishing 13-3 in 2001, the Chicago Bears crashed to 4-12, 7-9 and 5-11 in the next three seasons partially because they were battered by injury. After the '04 season, embattled long-time strength coach Russ Riederer retired.
The Bears replaced him with Rusty Jones, who had spent the previous 20 seasons with the Buffalo Bills. They improved to 11-5, injuries were way down and Jones drew praise from front office and players alike.
Jones added some more free weights, but the expenditure wasn't in the same ballpark as the Packers'. He focused more on nutrition, water intake and flexibility than the weight room. Jones believes that pulled muscles and cramping could be limited by eating and drinking habits.
According to tackle Mark Tauscher, the system under Gullickson is more reminiscent of collegiate settings.
"We've gone back to where there's big groups and you're not lifting with one person," Tauscher said. "As far as our meeting went, there was a big talk of, 'This isn't a one-man show, you're going to do things as a team.' It's definitely going to be a big positive for team chemistry."
Gullickson, a former power-lifting champion, is a big pusher of free weights.
"There's more of a focus on power-cleaning and squatting," Tauscher said. "It's stuff we've always done, but there's more of an emphasis on Olympic moves. Rock is a power lifter. That's kind of the direction the weight room is going.
"With 'Rubes' and the other guys, they were always looking for new things, but they always had the same plan. I think they had a lot of success with that.
"The bottom line is you need to train and be in shape. I think different philosophies sometimes can be good because you get to see what different things do to you. You have to go with the guy that's there and trust what he's doing."