The Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) football team is so dedicated to its training that the Wildcats will stop en route to an away game and perform a bodyweight workout.
And it’s not taken lightly.
“We’re not trying to kill them,” says coach Jeff Herron. “But, at the same time, they’re going to work up a good sweat.”
The routine includes pushups, crunches and agility drills. Herron is careful to keep his players’ legs fresh.
So far, the Wildcats’ workout regimen has helped carry them to a 6-0 record in what Herron considers the very best high school football region in the nation.
Last season Camden finished No. 1 in Region 3-5A. This season, the team moved up to the more competitive Region 1-6A. With four SEC Class of 2013 recruits — wide receiver J.J. Green and quarterback Brice Ramsey (Georgia), linebacker Jarrad Davis (Auburn) and J.P. Vonashek (South Carolina) — the Wildcats are prepared to defend their territory.
The Camden football tradition begins with a slow-cook approach to learning proper technique in the weight room. After that, it’s all about repetition.
“We might alter our practice,” Herron says. “But our weight room routine stays consistent.”
The Wildcats hit the weights at 8:15 a.m. with full-body training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Herron's approach is to build strength year-round. With Taylor Swift songs (or other country music) playing on Herron’s iPod, the team gets to work performing Olympic lifts — hang cleans, power cleans and squats — along with extras like dips, pushups and bent-over rows.
Ab exercises like bicycle crunches, planks and jackknifes are saved for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the team performs agility drills.
And if a player is injured, he’ll still have a presence in the weight room. For instance, an athlete with a knee injury might perform single-leg squats. Or if a player is battling an arm injury, he’ll perform the clean with a dumbbell.
“You have to train smart,” Herron says. “We try to do everything in our power to make sure they don’t go backward [with their strength gains].”
Traditional multi-joint lifts like the power clean are integral to the Wildcats’ training routine, but Herron likes to stay open to trying new exercises.
To keep his players mentally and physically challenged, Herron recently adopted a new drill called the Predator Jack.
Think of it like a modified jumping jack — and Davis admits it’s not easy. The Wildcats use the drill to loosen up their bodies.
Start with hands together, then jump into a squat. Roll to the right hip, then roll to the left. Jump up and slap hands together. Perform one set of 10 reps.