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Tigers earn stripes during summer workouts

It’s the early Tiger that gets the worm, if the Greenville High School football team’s summer workout is any indication.

For three days a week, the varsity Tigers are lifting weights at 6 a.m. with one sole purpose in mind—be stronger than they were last year.

Greenville High School head football coach Josh McLendon said that, on a laundry list of goals to accomplish between now and Sept. 1 (the Tigers’ first game of the fall season), getting bigger, faster and stronger is chief among them all.

With that in mind, McLendon and GHS’s new defensive coordinator David Bush sat down and restructured the team’s weight lifting program from the ground up with an emphasis on decreasing downtime between lifts and increasing the amount of weight lifted.

“I felt like that was a weakness from last year—the fact that we weren’t able to physically match up with the teams we played,” McLendon said.

“I know a lot of it had to do with the fact that we were young. But we want to be prepared and really attack the weight room with a mindset that if we attack the weights, then that physical mindset leads to the football field and allows us to be physical in both areas. I think our guys have done a good job, and I hope we see some results.”

Though the Tigers complete their workout in about an hour, the entire team is constantly in motion. 

The core of the program remains familiar and intact, with bench presses, squats and power cleans making up the foundation of the workout.

But everything surrounding those exercises—the auxiliary lifts, the number of repetitions and the amount of weight lifted, and even down to what each teammate is doing during any given lift—has all been fine-tuned to maximize productivity.

“You’ve got a guy lifting, you’ve got a guy helping him lift, and you’ve got other guys doing something outside the rack, whether they be sit-ups, pushes, dips or crunches,” McLendon added.

“We’re minimizing the downtime, but also adding to what they’re lifting and making sure they’re doing the right amount of reps.”

The Tigers’ efforts to get bigger and stronger extend beyond the weight room.  Through various fundraising efforts, Greenville High School is providing more than 50 of its athletes with protein shakes after each workout so that they add the right kind of weight and, just as importantly, so that key elements that are lost during a workout or practice are replaced.

McLendon is looking to expand the program in the fall.

“If we had the way to do it, we would feed them breakfast and lunch,” McLendon said. “There are programs out there that the state does for Title I schools that allows you to have meals, so we’re going to try to work on that for the fall and have some type of boxed meal for the kids after practice so that they’re eating something that replaces what they’ve lost. 

“When you’re young, your metabolism is high, and you’re burning a lot of carbs, and we want to make sure we’re putting protein and the right type of carbs back into their bodies to be able to give us the fuel that we need to compete and be successful.”

If the summer is about gaining, then the fall is all about maintaining. 

Workouts will continue long into the season itself, though at a less intense pace.  But those lifts will be just as important as the arduous summer program.

“Once you get to the fall, you just want to make sure that you don’t go backwards,” McLendon said.  “You’ll want to lift so that you don’t get out of shape or lose what you gained during the summer.

“We want to at least maintain and possibly get stronger if we can, but we definitely don’t want to lose anything we gained during the summer.”