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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 25 2012

Bison reap rewards of long season with productive workouts

FARGO – North Dakota State’s football body of work last year was measured in wins, losses and a national title. Head strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer had a different way of looking at success.

The players had the best body composition results and biggest gains in lean muscle mass following winter workouts in his 10 years at NDSU. The probable reason: NDSU’s 2011 season lasting into early January.

The coaches were able to continue regimented workouts with the redshirt freshmen and role players the entire of month of December because of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff run. In past years, the players have had three to four weeks off before starting winter workouts.

Last year, they had maybe a week following the title game in Frisco, Texas. The routine is the same this year as the Bison play Sam Houston State again for the national crown in Frisco, Texas.

It goes against conventional thought that players’ bodies need a break after a long football season that starts in early August. Although Kramer said some type of break is needed, a month away from regular strength workouts is a lot.

“We didn’t have to play catch-up,” he said of last year’s winter workouts. “In prior years, it wasn’t that we got fat (with the layoff). It was that we lost lean muscle mass by not having training for those four weeks.”

NDSU’s starters and regular role players will probably lift two or three times this week, but for the most part, they have not done the weekly December routine that the redshirts have done. And they’re not stopping once they get to Frisco.

Although they won’t suit up for the game, the redshirts are still practicing with the team and will do weight training at a local high school. It may be just one lift, but Kramer said the point is to emphasize to the players the importance of lifting.

“For me, this time of the year is big for our redshirts and developmental guys,” Kramer said. “We get extra time with them and that’s big.”

He believes the extra time last year was a reason freshman nose guard Brian Schaetz, freshman offensive tackle Joe Haeg and sophomore defensive end Mike Hardie played major roles this season.

“All those guys were lifting hard and heavy at this time last season,” Kramer said.

As for this year’s redshirts, Kramer said three redshirt offensive linemen were impressive in Landon Lechler, Jack Plankers and Sam Hahn. Plankers, the former Kindred, N.D., standout, is 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds.

“He really changed his body composition,” Kramer said. “It was a pretty unbelievable gain that we made with him. He gained twice as much muscle as he lost fat, so he really rearranged himself.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia