When the College decided to bring everyone back on campus, student-athletes knew they needed to be prepared for the possibility of a spring season. The weight room plays a significant role in preparing athletes for their season, but things are a bit different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes have less time to workout, there’s a limit on how many people can be in the weight room at once and athletes don’t have every resource available to them. With all these factors in play, how are student-athletes adjusting to the new guidelines and what are they doing to maintain their level of play?
“You now must be more resourceful with no access to communal machines such as the neck, cable and hamstring curl machines,” said men’s lacrosse player Cole Draghi ‘21. Draghi, like many student-athletes, likes to maximize his time in the weight room, and with many of the resistance machines being closed off, he finds himself doing exercises outside of the weight room to compensate. “[The new restrictions] have required me to do more work outside of the weight room, however, specifically when it comes to stretching with a band and getting in some extra cardio jump roping.” For Draghi, the lack of people in the weight room creates a difference in the energy levels during workouts and makes things feel, as he put it, “very weird.”
Despite the differences in the weight room, student-athletes are beginning to adjust to the new restrictions while working with coaches to get the most out of their time in the weight room. “I stretch, foam roll and warm up at home before I go to the weight room,” said P.J. Lombara ‘21, attacker for the Mules’ lacrosse team. “This helps me so that when I go to the weight room, I don’t waste any time and can get into my workout routine.”
The team is also working out in groups of four to six people to adhere to the weight room capacity limit restrictions. “Splitting up into our pods allows us to train as a team while still following the school’s COVID protocol and regulations,” said Lombara.
Coaches are also doing their due diligence to put student-athletes in a position where they are prepared for their games. “We’ve adjusted a lot of the workouts to the point where everything can be done at the athlete’s workout station,” said Darin Thomas, head strength and conditioning coach. “We put dumbbells, kettlebells and boxes on each platform that way athletes have every piece of equipment needed to perform the basic exercises. We also placed an emphasis on focusing on the basics this year as well, rather than trying to get too exotic with our workouts.”
Andrew Lankrage, assistant strength and conditioning coach, echoed Thomas’ points as he indicated that the new restrictions allowed the staff to cut some of the “fluff” from the workout programs and “focus on the fundamentals.” Thomas added that Muhlenberg Athletic Director, Lynn Tubman, has been very supportive and helpful in regards to providing the staff with the equipment needed to improve player performance while remaining safe and adhering to the rules and regulations put in place.
“I think you can get a great workout in with the limited resources in the weight room,” stated Lombara. “I don’t feel as prepared for games as I typically do, but this is more so due to the time restrictions in place, rather than access to the equipment.”
Both players and coaches believe that performance is not hindered too much by the weight room’s current setup, but it does make it a bit more challenging to be able to prepare in the same fashion as before. “The new restrictions have hindered us a bit,” Thomas said. “We aren’t able to go real heavy since the athletes can’t spot each other, so it’s a bit tougher to build up strength in certain areas. However, we are able to really hone in on our technique and really master the fundamentals of our core lifts.”