flipping gargantuan tractor tires and lifting kegs are the typical events in a
strongman competition--and in a workout devised by Carlo Alvarez, a former
major league strength coach who trains student-athletes at St. Xavier in
Cincinnati, including its nationally-ranked (No. 9) football team.
they're high school kids," says Alvarez (below), who left the Cincinnati
Reds to take over as the Bombers' strength coach before the team's undefeated
season in 2005, "you have to break up the monotony of the weight room and
keep things interesting."
Top high school
athletic programs have been focusing more on conditioning, and St. Xavier
employs a nutritionist as well as Alvarez, who has devised a five-day-a-week
in-season training program for the football team. Alvarez comes to the
all-boys' Jesuit school after working with athletes at Notre Dame and the
Cleveland Indians in addition to the Reds. He had run St. Xavier's weight
program from 1996 to '98 while earning an exercise science degree at
Cincinnati. "I wanted to try high school, college and pro," says
Alvarez, 34. "After doing all three, I realized my passion was training
came back, we've been the best-conditioned team on the field and also the most
flexible," says Steve Specht, coach of the 7--1 Bombers. "We had kids
who could bench-press a lot but couldn't move. Now they can." Senior
cornerback Jon Saelinger (above, 22), who is 6 feet, 185 pounds, and junior
running back Darius Ashley (5'9", 180) have each dropped their time in the
40-yard dash from 4.7 to 4.4 since Alvarez arrived, while also gaining 25
pounds of muscle. "The 300-yard sprints are the worst," says Ashley.
"Guys throw up after those. But we trust Coach Alvarez. He makes us better
athletes. Plus, he makes things fun."