May 6, 2013
UTsports.com recently sat down with men's basketball strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher to talk about his role with the Vols during the offseason.
During the offseason, do the players lift more or less than they do in-season, and how does your approach change? "Our program is going to change quite a bit (now that we're in the offseason). The major difference is the intensity level. During the season, you have to account for games and practices, but in the offseason, most of their time is spent with me. We try to push the envelope a little bit. We spend a lot of time working on mental toughness and pushing the body to its limit. It's very high intensity. We can lift as much weight as possible in the offseason, whereas during the season we won't do that. For example, in the season we might do five sets of five, but we do five sets of ten in the offseason."
What are areas of emphasis in the offseason? I focus first and foremost on my athletes being healthy. We fix any asymmetries or any nagging injuries guys might have. My major focus in the summer is always going to be strength. I feel that strength is the foundation of everything we do. I feel that if we can build strength, speed and explosiveness will come. As far as weight loss and weight gain, you'll see that on an individual basis. For example, a guy like Jordan McRae, you'll see him gain weight through the lifting process; while a guy like Jeronne Maymon will maintain that lean muscle mass. Our sports nutritionist, Allison (Maurer), does a great job with weight gain and weight loss. We sit down and put together a plan so that if you need to gain or lose weight, we monitor your caloric intake accordingly and build our weight training program around that."
Are there any new ideas or trends in the world of strength and conditioning that really interest you right now?
"I'm not really into too much of the new-age stuff. I think we accomplish almost all of our goals with traditional workouts. If there is something that really catches my eye, I'm certainly open to it, though."
What is head coach Cuonzo Martin's involvement in the players' offseason strength training regimen? "I sit down with coach Martin to see where the players are (in terms of their weight training) and where they need to improve. Based on that, we send them home with a workout sheet and a plan so that they are ready to go when they get back to campus. Coach Martin and I communicate really well."
You joined Twitter this past year (@nicodemus_c). What do you like most about that social media application? "I'd have to say getting to connect with our fans. I love answering questions and getting to help out people who need advice in terms of weight training, nutrition, etc. We have such a great fanbase; it's nice to be able to actually connect with them from time to time."