February 1, 2009

Strength Coach in Numbers

Feb. 1, 2009

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By now, many people have heard about John Bryant's off-season weight loss, but even more impressive is the 78 pounds of muscle the rest of the team has put on. It's all thanks to the new guy on the bench.

Santa Clara Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Siara came to Santa Clara from the University of Florida where he studied under Matt Herring. Herring's program helped the Gators win back-to-back National Championships in men's basketball in 2006 and 2007. Siara's expertise in basketball specific training has been instrumental to the Broncos.

"I work directly with men's and women's basketball which is a great advantage to me because the athletes get that that individualized 'basketball is all I have to deal with' attention," Siara said. "My time is spent researching, developing and getting basketball players better on the court."

Siara's workout philosophy is movement based, working the body's three planes of motion: front, back and side-to-side. In his workouts there is no heavy lifting.

"It's not necessary that [a player] went from a two-hundred pound bench press to a three-hundred pound bench press because that doesn't really correlate over to the basketball court," Siara said. "Yes, they've got a stronger bench but how many times do you go on the court, lay on your back and try to make a basket? Never!"

Basketball specific workouts start with five to 10 minutes of movement prep in the gym. Players then complete three blocks of three exercises that incorporate strength, mobility and flexibility into the workout. Blocks usually include squats, side steps, jumps and resistance band exercises. A 10-pound medicine ball is used for core exercises and 20-pound dumbbells are added to squats and pushups. The routine is designed to get the players to mimic the movements they use while playing basketball.

"The way we go about working out, instead of coming in here and trying to power up weights, we know technique," said senior guard Calvin Johnson. "We have blocks to try to work out those isolated areas and I feel like that's a little different."

Players agree training without weight machines has been different but beneficial.

"There's a lot more variation," said sophomore forward Ben Dowdell. "It's shorter and a lot higher intensity. It makes it more fun and keeps people going and working really hard."

The Broncos success in the weight room has paid off on the court, not only in muscle gained, but in an increased confidence in their play.