A look into strength and conditioning

Southeastern Director of Sport Performance, Brandon Howard trains the university’s athletes all year round, preparing them to succeed in their sport.

It is no surprise  Southeastern’s Lions and Lady Lions’ sports teams are fit. 

Between school, relationships, spring break and more recently, summer, these athletes maintain their shape even outside of their season. They are not being followed around by a drone demanding  they randomly, “Drop and give me fifty,” or that they stay away from the carbohydrates. These athletes have someone looking out for them; more specifically, Southeastern Director of Sport Performance Brandon Howard. 

Howard’s job is more than just assigning workouts. HE has to also consider factors that play a role in the body’s response to stress, like specific injuries to the body and nutritional intake. Nutritional intake can especially be important to how well the body will respond.  

According to Howard, when your diet is clean and balanced, you’re not going to get sick as often.

“You’re not going to get the flu,” said Howard. “You’re not going to catch a cold. Things that hold you back, keep you weak and in the bed.” said Howard.

Summer training for athletes is in full swing, primarily with football, soccer and volleyball players. For athletes, staying fit is a year-long obligation with no off time. They train during the school year and are given things when they’re not in school, like during Christmas or Spring Break. 

Howard believes there is always time for training and the more you stay in shape, the less likely of an injury you are going to have.

“The more time you put in, the better off you’ll be,” said Howard.

According to Howard, there are different workouts for different people, but all should include a full body approach. There are some exercises that carry over to all sports, exercises that are all about increasing athleticism, increasing overall strength and  increasing explosion. Howard’s workouts strive to maintain a total body approach. 

“There is no set of five or six exercises that I’m going to give them [athletes]. It’s all different, all built around the needs of the athlete,” said Howard.

Each team has their own training time based on classes and where they are in the season. 

Howard sits with coaches during the preseason and makes a schedule. An athlete’s training does not consist of an, “I’m just doing arms” or “I’m just doing legs today,” approach. Instead, it is a training methodology that focuses on sports performance. 

“I don’t care how big their arms are getting; I care about how they produce on the field, how they move, how they run and jump,” said Howard.

They are training the whole body, concentrating on the shoulders, neck, hips and knees, and going into core strength as well with abs and rotational strength.

Howard also believes that it is important for not only athletics to eat healthy and exercise, but for everyone in general to do so. 

Howard thinks often times, people feel that to see results they have to do a particular exercise or program. His advice however, would be to just get out and do something. To find something you enjoy, such as bicycling, Pilates, Cross Fit and all the different types of exercise.

“Find what you enjoy doing and what you feel you’re getting the most out of and then go do it,” said Howard. “Find what keeps you motivated, what keeps you coming back two, three, four days a week.”

He encourages students to question what they are doing, how they are doing it and to find a way to learn. Going on the internet and researching is a starting point.

“Everybody has their own nitch, their own thing that they are going to enjoy,” said Howard. “Being fit is all a state of mind, being fit is about what you enjoy doing. Maybe you like to run 5ks, maybe you like to Cross Fit. It’s 

about finding your nitch that makes you feel active and keep being active.”

Finding an exercise routine that is your own and not another person’s may be the key to finding a good routine. 

“That’s what I would recommend to any student looking to get into an exercise routine,” said Howard. “Get out of your comfort zone, don’t just do what everybody else is doing because a lot of times what everybody else is doing is not doing anything for you.

People tend to eat for convenience and eating just what is in front of them. Bettering nutrition and being conscious of one’s intake is the first step to changing the body.

According to Howard, diet is 80 percent of the battle and he advises staying away from processed and fast foods. When people get into their late 20s, early 30s, their metabolism will not work like it did in the past, so eating properly will have long-term benefits.

“My biggest tip is work on nutrition, drink more water, less soda,” said Howard. “These little things everyone hears but doesn’t want to do and then find a form of exercise, a form of fitness that you enjoy. You put a good diet with exercise and you will see results.”

It was during Howard’s time at East Carolina University  he first began to learn about what a strength coach does and considered it as a career option. A self-acclaimed weight room guy, he enjoyed training and was always interested to learn about training and asking questions.

“I was that kid that was always asking a million questions,” said Howard. “When I had a strength coach, I was like, ‘why do we do this? Or, ‘Why do we do the percentage of that that we do?’ Just out of curiosity. I had an inquisitive mind towards that subject.” 

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from East Carolina and his master’s degree in Exercise Science from Utah State, becoming a certified strength and conditioning specialist after six years of education.

For students interested in pursueing a workout regime, Southeastern’s own Pennington Center offers multiple classes and opportunities for fitness.

Howard gave some final advice for exercising properly by saying, “It’s not always about lifting weights.”