Glenn Harris helps varsity athletes become all that they can be| From Commonwealth | By Caleb Daniloff | Video by Nicolae Ciorogan
Glenn Harris works with Rachel Collins (CAS’11), a member of the Terrier lacrosse team. In the video above, watch as Harris puts pickup basketball and soccer player Davide Nardi (CAS’11) through the paces. Photo by Chitose Suzuki
The third floor of 300 Babcock Street is a cacophony of clanking metal, echoing voices and grunts, and speakers throbbing with rap music. In the 12,000-square-foot gym and weight room, members of the men’s varsity hoops squad are short-sprinting under the watchful gaze of BU’s strength and conditioning head coach Glenn Harris.
“He’s got the shoes, he’s got the shoes,” Harris shouts as guard Matt Griffin (SMG’12) sprints 10 yards, stops on a dime, and sprints back.
NCAA regulations prevent varsity student-athletes from contact with their head coaches during much of the off-season, but Harris, who is not a team coach, and his staff are on hand year-round to keep players in top shape.
The fitness guru, who has run BU’s strength and conditioning program since 1997, helps devise workout regimens for all 23 varsity teams, using the latest training techniques and equipment, as well as some decidedly old-school tools like medicine balls, weight vests, and barrels of rice (athletes plunge their hands in and squeeze the grains to improve wrist strength).
“You look around and you see new and shiny equipment, but the mentality is you need to do the hard work,” says Harris, who has beefed up everyone from professional soccer and lacrosse players to state troopers. “The successful people are the ones who are good at doing the hard work.”
Harris and his staff design each training session to improve an individual athlete’s movement, core stability, speed, strength, balance, and flexibility.
He points to Terrier hoops standout Rashad Bell (CGS’03, CAS’05), who now plays professional basketball in Asia, as one of his biggest success stories. “When I first met Rashad he was 6’8’’ and 172 pounds, and now he plays at 218 pounds,” Harris says. “It didn’t happen over the course of four months. It was a four-year process, and he arguably became one of the best players on our team. His mind, and his body, was a sponge.
“I’ve had athletes who have gone on to play professionally come back to me because they really enjoyed their time as a BU athlete and want to get into that training mode again.”
You Asked, We Answered
Readers took advantage of our invitation to ask BU’s strength and conditioning head coach Glenn Harris about fitness and conditioning. Here are some of those questions, along with Harris' responses.
Q Glenn, I am coaching an 8th Grade basketball team and wanted to see if you could provide me with some basic fitness and conditioning drills/exercises that I could use with the team to develop their endurance, along with some upper body strength. Thanks. — Jeff (MET’05)
A When working with basketball players, the most important thing to remember is that you do not want to develop distance runners. Basketball is a sport of short sprints and quick changes of direction. When designing conditioning for basketball players, I will set up interval based conditioning. Shuttles are a great way to develop the energy systems needed to excel on the court. Half court shuttles and full court shuttles are great because they are very specific to what is expected of basketball players. Running back and forth on the court is what they do in games and what they should be doing in practice and training as well.
One suggestion is the half court shuttle (baseline to half court). Run down and back five times. Time with a stop watch how long the run took, then give 3 times off for the rest. Ideally, if you can make 4 groups, the rest will be set by the other groups running. Try to run 5 of them for the workout. Possibly increase by one each week.
As for upper body strengthening, for youth athletes, I would suggest being able to do the bodyweight exercises: Push-ups, Chin-ups, Lunges, Planks. Those four exercise would target the majority of the body. Begin with 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions of each. With regards to the planks, I would suggest starting with 2 sets of :30sec holds.
Good luck with your season.
Q I will soon be working with youth, teens and adults who are not involved in any Fall/Winter sports but would like to do conditioning for long term fitness and improved health. What suggested exercises and workout routines could be done using limited strength apparatus and more use of one's body weight? I look to improve their flexibility, overall core and physical strength, coordination, stamina and speed and have fun doing so. Nutritional suggestions would be appreciated. — Jack (GRS’71)
A Working in a setting with not much equipment can be frustrating at times, but also can be exciting because you have the ability to come up with different exercises. I actually have a set workout for my athletes that do not have access to a weight room during times when they are on the road or at home. It is as follows:
Squat Jumps x10
Push-ups x 10
BW Squats x 10
Chin-ups x 10
Glute Bridge x :60 sec hold
Push up Plank x :60 sec hold
Repeat that 2-3 times with about 2 minutes rest between sets.
As for conditioning workouts, again, the possibilities are endless. Studies show that the best way to burn fat and get in shape is through interval training. :15, :30, :60 second sprint bouts are great to do followed with a corresponding rest of 2-3 times the exercise bout. For example, you may perform a :15 sprint with a :45 rest or a :60 sec sprint with a 2-3 min rest. As your fitness and your recovery improves, the amount of time needed for your recovery will decrease as well.
Nutritionally speaking, I cannot give advice because I am not a registered dietician. However, I would suggest following a healthy diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The less processed your food choices are, the better the impact on your body. And also remember to monitor your fluid intake to ensure proper hydration.
Good luck with your workouts.
Q Dear Glenn, Is it possible for a 76 year old male to re-build muscle mass? The person in question is in good health and works out regularly at Fit Rec, but he has lost muscle mass over the years. If your answer is yes, could you recommend a program for him? — David (COM’76)
A It is difficult for someone of that age to "build" muscle mass. In my opinion, maintaining fitness and strength at the age of 76 is more important and healthier to do that trying to put on muscle mass.
Q I would like to know what kind of athletic training you recommend for soccer goalies. Thank you. — Peter, Joel Barlow High School Varsity Goalie
A As with all of my athletes, we have a total body approach when training for specific sports. I develop a needs analysis of the position in question. Goalies require a lot of power and agility. Our programs are designed around that objective. Footwork drills, position specific conditioning, core training, plyometric training and weight training are all incorporated in a planned program to improve the goalies performance on the field.