Feb. 9, 2007
Strength and Conditioning Coach Jon Jost has spent the last month working with the Seminole football team in the weight room. On Monday the workouts move into a new phase with nine off-season conditioning sessions. Those three weeks of work will carry the team right to the start of spring practice March 16. Before Jost and the Seminoles move into the second phase of the off-season conditioning program, the sixth-year coach sat down and talked with us at Seminoles.com.
A lot of people think that the off-season conditioning program for football begins on Monday. Is that the case?
That is not the case. It started January 16. School started on the eighth, we had a team meeting on January 11. We have been training four times a week. That week we went Tuesday through Friday. Since then we have taken Wednesday as our off day fulfilling the eight hours we are allowed to work with the players this time of year.
Is this new or have you always started working this early?
We have always started around this time.
Have you seen a change in attitude and dedication this spring?
Very much so. Much of that has been initiated and reinforced by the new coaches and also the fact that we didn’t have the season we hoped for. So there is, without question, a greater sense of urgency and we have used the phrase (in the weight room) that we are “Turning up the Heat”. We have been far too comfortable. We are turning up the heat and having greater expectations; being extremely demanding and we have changed the tempo that has taken place both in the weight room and with our conditioning work.
What is your overall philosophy on off-season conditioning?
January is the period of time, first and foremost, for people who did not finish the season 100%, they need to get healthy. The people that did finish the season without injury, this is the time for us to do what we call our hypertrophy stage, which is high volume. In other words lots of sets and reps, lots of work in the weight room. What that will allow us to do is to lay a foundation on which we can continue to build strength and develop speed as we progress through the off-season.
Has there been any change in philosophy in off-season conditioning with the new coaching staff?
There has mainly been a change in attitude. We have made some changes as to what we are doing in the weight room. We make changes every year. We are never going to operate under the status quo. Even if we win the National Championship when we come back the next year we are not going to do things exactly the way we did them in the past. We are always continuing to learn and grow. I am very fortunate that I have a lot of colleagues that are at this level across the nation and also in the NFL. I correspond with them quite frequently. We are always looking for ways to make our program better.
What has been the biggest change?
Probably the biggest change we have made concerns the tempo in the weight room. First of all we turned the stereo off completely. There is no music. Everything is regimented on a clock. Every single set is followed by a timed rest period. Everybody gets the same amount of rest. Everybody starts their set at the same time. It is very structured. That is for two reasons. One is to ensure they are not getting too much rest between sets at this time of year. Also, to make the program more structured. We are going to start together, we are going to end together and then after every workout we have a specialty period where we address everyone’s individual needs.
Have the players embraced the changes?
They have responded very well. I have been proud of them the last four weeks. They have worked really hard. There have been, like any time there are changes, growing pains. When expectations are raised, the stereo is turned off and rest periods are reduced, that is not always a lot of fun. Everybody understands why we made the changes and the importance of what we are doing. Overall, I have been proud of the way they have worked.
What we have done over this first month is laid a great cornerstone and a great building block to build on. We have a lot of work to do this off-season. We are still a very young team that needs to significantly improve their strength. I am excited because the first month has given me an indication we have a lot of young guys that are willing to work. That is all we can ask for. To have the players commit themselves, give 100% effort and work as hard as they possibly can.
What is the significance of the phase the off-season program moves on to Monday?
The significance of Monday is although we have turned up the heat we are turning it up even higher. The next step is the time of year where there needs to be an even greater commitment. Leaders will start to emerge and by getting all the coaches involved, this year particularly all the new coaches, it is their first real exposure to the players other than on film. They have an opportunity to see what they have to work with. It is a great opportunity for the players to introduce themselves to the new coaches. First impressions are big. Monday is a big day for us from both the players and the coach’s standpoint.
Take us through what will happen between now and spring practice?
Starting Monday we will go through nine off-season conditioning sessions. As everybody knows, we start in the morning. On the same days as those drills (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) the players will also have a lifting session. They will lift in four different groups. Those have already been established and are dictated by class schedule and position.
Is there more to the nine off-season conditioning sessions than just working out?
There is no question that team building is a very big part of this. There is a lot to be said for a team making a sacrifice, being committed to a goal, working together and helping each other along the way. Seeing your teammate’s blood, sweat and tears right next to yours is a big part of the next three weeks. It is building a team. It doesn’t happen in three weeks or nine workout sessions but it is the initial step we have to build upon.