As the Denver Nuggets prepare to square off against the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs tomorrow night, we caught up with Nuggets’ head strength and conditioning coach, Steve Hess, to find out how he’s continued to use the TRX as a key tool for keeping the team in top form and powering through every game.
The TRX has been a training constant all season for Hess and the Nuggets, a home and on the road, a training practice Hess and the team have carried into the playoffs. “One thing I've learned from 14 years of doing this is the importance of continuity in training. The TRX is a constant in the Nuggets' training equation, a tool that will always be there. If we're at a gym without a weight room, we're ready to go. If we're at a hotel, we're ready to go. I'll find any place to put up the TRX. I've used it with players outdoors and at the beach. I've anchored it to a rim, in hotel rooms and on locker room doors.”
The players' hard work and careful programming from Hess helps to keep the Nuggets chugging and rising up to dominate the challenges they face in the playoffs. “I used to believe that strength and conditioning coaches were like salad dressing. Now I believe we're part of the salad—our involvement is getting the machine working properly.” To achieve this, Hess draws on his knowledge of the science of exercise physiology and strength and conditioning training. But the art of training plays a huge role in what Hess does for the team, too. “I've been working with some of the guys so long that I can just look at their faces and know if they're dehydrated, know what weight they're at. I know how they work, and I know their bodies. My view as a conditioning expert is that if you're legitimately selfless, you will come up with the correct routines. My goal is to make these guys better.”
The simplicity of progressing and regressing movements on the TRX for strength, conditioning, stretching, prehabilitation and muscle activation allows Hess to give players the exact tune-ups their bodies need on training days and pre-game. During the playoffs, Hess has varied the TRX training of each player to cater to injuries, fatigue levels and game-specific needs. “My philosophy is, ‘Let's bust it out.’ But sometimes in view of the overall goal, you have to think about how to slow things down. The TRX allows me to do both.”
Below is the 15 minute TRX regimen Hess has developed to keep Coby Karl (shown above) in top form. Hess specifies slow, eccentric movement speed at the start of the protocol followed by explosive movements, a strategy he uses with Karl “to get everything to activate, everything to fire.”
Andrew Vontz is a journalist and trainer who writes for Fitness Anywhere. He programs functional training for endurance sports and life.
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