Read part one of the series here.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Shortly after the Broncos announced the hiring of Luke Richesson and his strength and conditioning assistants Jason George, Mike Eubanks and Anthony Lomando, the team’s weight room underwent a complete overhaul.
Their first month on the job was spent tearing out old machines and weights and installing brand new equipment to transform the weight room into a design that matched the needs of the new program they would install over the offseason.
“The great thing is that we were able to set the room up right out the gate, not piecemeal it together,” Richesson said. “We were able to go right after it and I think it was met with open arms.”
The room is set up in a way that facilitates group workouts – something that Richesson and his staff believes is essential to foster team chemistry and accountability in the weight room.
With 90 players on the team’s offseason roster, creating a space for a large group of large men to work out at the same time required a lot of thought.
“We knew we needed to be able to outfit the room to handle large groups because that’s how we want to train,” Richesson said. “When you look at the overall organization of the room, it’s a clean, simple look that allows for movement.”
Equally important to renovating the room was bringing the rest of Richesson’s staff with him from Jacksonville, where the quartet had worked together for the previous three seasons.
In addition to being able to accommodate large numbers of players, Richesson wanted to make sure the setup was conducive to getting players in and out of the weight room as quickly as possible, while still getting a full workout in.
During the season, the players’ schedule not only includes weightlifting sessions, but meetings with coaches, on-field practice, time spent in the training room, meeting with the media and film study.
Richesson and his staff set the goal not to waste a second of time when a player steps foot into the weight room for a workout.
“Time is of the essence,” Richesson said. “Coaches want them. The media wants them. The family wants them. (Head Athletic Trainer Steve) ‘Greek’ (Antonopulos ) wants them.”
The equipment the strength and conditioning staff brought in allows players to quickly transition between lifts and helps them get warmed up and into the workout quickly.
That meant installing power plates – vibration platforms that help with stretching and flexibility, Keiser workout equipment that uses air resistance to ease wear and tear on players’ joints and powerblocks – dumbbell sets that players can adjust from 15-150 lbs simply by moving a pin.
“For us to be able to get our guys activated, turned on, flexible, mobile, we knew we had to have our power plates in here,” Richesson said. “We’re the only team in the NFL that has 12 power plates. They’ve been invaluable.”
In addition to providing an efficient workout setup, the new equipment lets Richesson and his staff structure workouts in a way that will get the most out of players without hurting their on-field performance.
“Our players, as they get older, even a 2 or 3-year vet, they’re going to have some sort of wear and tear on the body,” he continued. “The Kaiser equipment, with the pneumatics and the air resistance, the abuse that the joints take is reduced significantly. For us, I knew we needed to get our Kaiser equipment in here.”
The power plates have also proved instrumental to getting players’ muscles warmed up and ready to go in the weight room.
“The power plate, the ability to get our guys warmed up and activated, it’s vibration training, and it’s been a huge asset for us,” Richesson said. “The power plate training started in the 1960’s with the Russians and their space program. They were finding that their athletes were able to stay in space up to three times longer than the Americans because of their ability to hold on to lean mass and their bone density. We got a plate and it was almost 14 years ago and we started playing with it and realized this can help our athletes. Through the last 10-plus years and we have been able to play with it and dial in how it can help our athletes warm up, actually activate within a workout and then cool down.”
Much of the new equipment was brand new to players who had grown accustomed to standard bench press, squats, dumbbells and other Olympic lifts over the years.
That meant extensive training from Richesson, George, Eubanks and Lomando on how to properly use the equipment before the staff could even install their new offseason program.
“There was a lot of teaching on the front end,” Richesson said with a smile. “From the warm-up to how to use a power plate, how does the Kaiser equipment work, tracking power loads, getting them to understand their heart rate monitor, what heart rate should they be, what type of recovery should they be able to hit, and really educate them on that process.”
The lessons took hold quickly among players that were eager to learn and start utilizing the new gear.
“It was all new to me, but once he showed us how to use it and what we were going to be doing on it, it became pretty easy,” Mays said.
All the new equipment fits together to provide a complete, efficient workout for the Broncos.
“You couple all those things and there’s not one type of training that hasn’t been covered. There is no bad exercise. There is no bad piece of equipment. It’s just how it fits into the plan and when and where you use it. We’re just really excited about what the future holds here.”