HUSKY STRENGTH & CONDITIONING PROGRAM
University of Washington
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1997
Rick Huegli heads the University of Washington Strength and Conditioning Program. He is assisted by Bill Gillespie who is in his sixth year with the Husky program and Kyle Feldman who is in her second year. Coach Feldman said that her mentor before coming to Washington was strength coaching leader, Doc Kries from the University of Colorado.
Coach Huegli is in his 17th year as the head man and is responsible for directing the strength and conditioning program for 23 intercollegiate sports. He was honored as the NSCA’s 1992 Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year.
The 13,000 square foot Husky weight room has 15,000 pounds of Olympic Weights, 34 Olympic Bars, 8 Olympic Benches, 6 Inclines, 3 Military Benches, 8 Olympic Power Racks, 8 Power Clean Platforms and a number of auxiliary exercise machines.
I observed Coach Huegli’s weight room for nearly an entire day last September during my interview with Olin Kreutz. I was most impressed. The Husky and BFS philosophies are almost identical. Coach Huegli believes in free weights and multi-joint movements. He emphasizes Squats and Cleans for hip, leg and trunk development. The Huskies do Parallel Squats and even use our BFS Safety Squats (Beepers) at times to make sure the athletes do in fact reach parallel. Assistant Coach Bill Gillespie and impressively strong Powerlifter even does Box Squats in his personal training.
Coach Huegli wants his athletes to Power Clean from the floor. We both believe an athlete will gain more in the long run by doing Power Cleans from the floor rather than from a Hang Clean position. Jerk Presses, Push Presses and other Olympic type movement lifts are also part of the Husky Weight room repertoire.
The weight training is complimented by auxiliary lifts like Inclines, Dips, Glute-Ham, Straight Leg Dead Lifts, Louie Simmons’ Reverse Back Hyper, Step-ups, Lunges and a variety of auxiliary machine work. Plyometric, flexibility, speed, agility and medicine ball exercises are also incorporated in the total Husky Strength and Conditioning Program.
During this early September time, the incoming Husky freshmen athletes were taught Huegli’s program. All three coaches were emphasizing correct techniques. The majority of the instruction was done with the athletes using just the bar. The athletes were going to have to demonstrate perfect technique before any weight was going to be added. The coaches also took care to explain why and how to do it the Husky way.
One freshman missed a workout while I was there. He had an excuse but he was clearly wrong. Coach Huegli really let him have it. He explained in no uncertain terms just which way the Husky pulls its sled. I enjoyed that scene immensely. Later, Coach Huegli smiled confidently, “The administration and Coach Lambright support me 100%. We all believe in discipline.”
Coach Huegli had all the athletes do stabilization exercises as part of the warm-up. It was new to me. As I looked at the athletes perform these four exercises, I became more impressed. “The first exercise is done from a push-up position but you support yourself from your elbows.” said Coach Huegli. “Then you hold that position for 30 seconds.
“Next, you turn sideways and support yourself with your right elbow. Then, turn face up as pictured. Support yourself again with your elbows and try to raise your hips to make an even plane. Finally, you turn sideways to the left. The natural progression is to increase the time from 30 seconds to 45 seconds, we do that but we also do two other things for progression.
“First, a partner or coach will apply steady, downward pressure against the athlete who will have to use all of his support and stabilization muscles to maintain the desired straight position. Second, we will jolt the athlete with a downward jab with both hands. The athlete will get five of these jolts. This means he continually has to brace every muscle for this jolt.
“The result was remarkable. We all felt we saw an improvement in Power Cleans and Squats. Football players told us there was an improvement on the field, especially at the linebacker position.”
I was so enthused that I immediately put my eleven-year-old son on the Husky Stabilization Program. We started out at 10 seconds for each of the four positions. He liked it. Now, who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Our thanks to Rick Huegli, Bill and Kyle for their gracious hospitality and sharing their Upper Limit ideas and program.