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Strength and Conditioning Coach Rich Tuten Answers Your Questions!

Posted Jul 15, 2005

Strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten answers questions from fans leading up to the start of Denver's 2005 training camp.

Mini-camp may be over, but for Rich Tuten and his staff, their work with the players continues. The football workouts are complete but the players are still required to keep up with their strength and conditioning workouts in order for them to be prepared for the rigors of training camp. A player who does not keep up with his workouts can very quickly lose all of his conditioning and be out of shape by the time camp opens on July 29. It is the responsibility of Tuten and his staff, Greg Saporta and Cedric Smith, to make sure this does not happen to any of the players.

It has been a strong offseason for the Broncos as the majority of players have participated in the conditioning and workout program that began in early April and continued in between the team's quarterback, team and mini-camps. Whether it's in the weight room on on the field running sprints, the work that is done in the offseason by a team is often underappreciated but can very easily mean the difference between a Super Bowl victory or a failure to reach the postseason.

With an excellent offseason program almost complete the team looks to carry the momentum it built into training camp and then on through the season.

Tuten has been in Denver for the past 11 seasons and his friendship with Head Coach Mike Shanahan extends back to their days together at the University of Florida from 1980-1983. A graduate of Clemson University where Tuten played nose guard, he began his career at Florida in 1980 as the school's Director of Strength and Conditioning. From 1989-1992 he worked at the University of North Carolina as the Athletic Strength Director. He returned to Florida for two years in 1993 and 1994 before Shanahan brought him to Denver in 1995.

This week Tuten answered your questions. Here's what he had to say:

Bruce; Tulsa, Okla.
In terms of strength and speed, how does Quentin Griffin compare with the other backs on the roster?


Rich Tuten
As far as strength, he’s up at the top. His speed is okay, but his quickness is his stronger asset.

Steven; Los Angeles, Calif.
Who is the strongest guy on the team and how much can he lift doing what?

Rich Tuten
Courtney Brown, as well as a few others, can bench press over 500 lbs.

Travis Bohlke; Sioux City, Neb.
After an injury like Griffin went through, even after going through rehab, is it realistic to see him play at the same level us Broncos fans have come to expect from him? It just seems to me you don't see a player come back from an injury that serious, playing a position like halfback where your legs are such a big target!

Rich Tuten
Quentin has worked very hard to get back to where he was, but only time will tell.  If it can be done, he can do it!

O.J. Foth; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
How did you get your job and what advice would you give to people who are interested in your kind of profession?

Rich Tuten
Because I played college football I was exposed to the profession first hand, met the right people and was able to get into strength coaching after school.  I guess it’s always who you know!

Collin McNaughton; Chambersburg, Pa.
What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of your job as well as the least enjoyable?

Rich Tuten
The most enjoyable is I get to come to work every day and the least enjoyable is when we lose after seeing the players work so hard all year round!

Julie Knoop; Boise, Idaho
In listening and/or reading interviews with players featured on the Broncos website, some indicate they will take "time off" prior to training camp. Are players required to check in and/or report what type of conditioning program they are maintaining while on vacation?  Are they required to maintain physical conditioning in between now (or the end of mini camp) and training camp?  Is this true for all players or just certain players?

Rich Tuten
All the veterans have been here since April 4 through July 15. The NFL requires us to give the players off 10 days prior to reporting to training camp, so that is their so called vacation. They have been working very hard and all will be in shape for training camp on July 29.

Adam; Alamosa, Colo.
What is the toughest part as far as getting the players into football condition?

Rich Tuten
Two-a-days. We are only allowed to train them two hours a day, four days a week during the off-season program. When training camp starts, its two(2), two-hour practices a day and not much recovery time in between, so that’s the biggest difference.

Casey Conklin; Joplin, Mo.
My father was the director of sports medicine at Missouri Southern where Rod Smith went to college. While there, Rod appeared to be constantly conditioning more than any other player on the team.  Has the same ethic carried over after joining the Broncos, and if not, who is setting the highest pace on conditioning?

Rich Tuten
Rod Smith has not missed a workout since I’ve been here, 11 years at 100% attendance for the off-season program!

Chad; Santa Maria, Calif.
What kind of lifts or strength workouts do your defensive backs do that they may emphasize more than others positions do?

Rich Tuten
All positions lift close to the same programs, we just change the reps and sets -- higher reps and less weight -- more endurance, than strength for the skill players.

John McMurray; Baraboo, Wis.
I understand that all players need to work on their strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, but which group/what position seems to have the greatest number of conditioning concerns or challenges for you and your conditioning staff?

Rich Tuten
Wide receivers and defensive backs do the most all out running without hitting or being hit.

Michael Schwarz; Boynton Beach, Fla.
What happened to the power sled that most players stated was the "beast"?

Rich Tuten
We used it every week during the off-season program. The wide receivers, running backs and tight ends used it yesterday.

Josh Mason; Grand Forks, N.D.
What do you condone as legal and effective supplements to offer the players on the team? Do you as a coach suggest those supplements or do the players pick them themselves?

Rich Tuten
The only supplement provider approved by the NFL is EAS, so that’s the only thing we provide to the players. Anything else, they get on their own.

Joe Comer; Tampa, Fla.
In your career in Denver, who was the strongest physical player you have ever seen in the weight room?

Rich Tuten
Harald Hassleback. At 6’6,” 290 lbs. he could run with the wide receivers and defensive backs and bench press 405 lbs. 10 times!

Nick Kossoudji; Maineville, Ohio
What is one of the main exercises you use to develop speed?

Rich Tuten
Squats -- parallel squats, front squats, 1-leg squats, dumbbell (DB) squats and split squat jumps.

Andrae Gulley; Killeen, Texas
Do you find it hard for small school players to adjust to the vigorous workouts and conditioning that you and your staff have to offer them and if so how do you bring them along?

Rich Tuten
It’s the other way around.  The players from small schools usually train harder because they feel they have more to prove!

Harry; Woodbridge, Va.
With the running back corps being so young, in Tatum Bell, Quentin Griffin, and Maurice Clarett, what is the typical workout regiment for young backs to withstand the rigors of a 16 game NFL season?

Rich Tuten
The most important regiment is being consistent with training and training at full speed.

John Vair; Seattle, Wash.
Each season I'm always alarmed at how many knee injuries there are to football players, especially because they seem to be season-ending.  What do you try to do to strengthen knees on the players?  Are there any types of braces or supports they can wear during the game that don't interfere with their playing ability?
Rich Tuten
The knees are tough to protect because it’s a joint and it is exposed to direct hits every play.  The main group of muscles to strengthen is the hamstrings.  There is never enough training in this area and it should be the first. The quads are the easiest to train, and therefore, over trained causing an imbalance!

Ken; Springdale, Ark.
When do offseason conditioning workouts start?

Rich Tuten
You can start any time after March 23 and you have to end by July 15, but you are allowed only 14 weeks, two hours of scheduled workouts per day, four days per week.  We have restrictions just like college.

Bradley Luke Jr.; Phenix City, Ala.
How is Triandos Luke doing in the weight room and how would you rate his strength as a wideout?

Rich Tuten
Tri has above average strength in the weight room.

Dustan Lang; Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Do you ever use the concept of periodization for your training programs?

Rich Tuten
It’s not a concept because I have been doing it for 25 years. Not only sets and reps, but we also rotate exercises and percentages of resistance for each exercise, depending on where it shows up in the program. We usually rotate through every five weeks, depending on performance and the type of conditioning program we’re into also.

Kurt Fuller; Santaquin, Utah
Do you put the players on a certain eating schedule or a certain eating habit to help them stay in better shape or are their eating habits up to them?

Rich Tuten
We only get involved if there is a problem. We measure body fat once a month and that helps us help them.

David Meisner; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I'm a huge Tatum Bell fan and after suffering many injuries last year is he back to full strength and ready for next season?

Rich Tuten
Yes, he has put on 10 lbs of muscle and is in better shape, mentally and physically!

Terrel Highful; Broken Bow, Okla.
What do you think of Romar Crenshaw'\s strength and conditioning progress over the last year?

Rich Tuten
Romar is still learning in the strength area, but he is on the right track!  His conditioning level is better because he’s been here all offseason.  Last year as a rookie, he was limited to time!

Brian Carlson; Rockford, Ill.
What is the biggest change or challenge the rookies face when they step up from college training to pro training?

Rich Tuten
This is their job now and they are held more accountable for their results so you better do your homework or it is going to show up pretty fast on the field!

Steven Henricksen; Bartlett, Ill.
Trevor Pryce stated last year that he had weakness in his legs from his back problems. Has his strength and conditioning this offseason returned to full strength? Did you design a conditioning plan that will help him strengthen the affected area and help to prevent reoccurrence?

Rich Tuten
Trevor is back to where he was last year, which I thought was his best offseason program until he got hurt.  He has done everything we have asked of him and hopefully it will pay off with 15+ sacks!

Donny Williams; Columbus, Ohio
Compared to other previous running backs' offseason workouts, how would you rate Maurice Clarrett's work ethic going in to the preseason?

Rich Tuten
Like any 20-year old with one year of college experience!  Maurice is still learning, but he does work!

Pedro L.H.; Canutillo, Texas
What are the requirements for conditioning during the regular season?

Rich Tuten
All players must workout at least two days a week -- Monday and once on Wed, Thurs, or Friday. Some choose to workout three times, some four, some five days a week, depending on playing time and other needs.

Austin Hoffeditz; Harrogate, Tenn.
I would just like to know the condition on Mike Anderson and how is he coming along?

Rich Tuten
Mike has done great this offseason. He is hungry and ready to go!