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When Mike Clark first went to work in the weight room, he was a graduate-assistant football coach at the University of Kansas.
The team had just hired a strength coach but Clark was stuck in the film room, splicing tape and putting reels of players together.
“And then coach said, ‘Mike, how would you like to go down to the weight room? Help our guy down there,'” Clark recalled in an interview with Bears.com. “I was studying exercise physiology at the time and I’d started doing some weight lifting as a kid. So it just seemed like a natural fit.”
Clark, the Redskins newly announced strength and conditioning coach, did some competitive lifting in college, studying at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. As a power lifter, he found that the most explosive athletes were Olympic lifters, so he incorporated their techniques into his own style and coaching philosophy.
“I like doing things with an Olympic base, so we are doing a lot more Olympic lifts,” Clark said to the Chicago Tribune while he was with the Bears.
Before working in the NFL with Seattle, Kansas City and Chicago, Clark spent 22 years as a strength coach at the collegiate level, including 14 years at Texas A&M. He played football for Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo., and continued as a center in Ottawa.
Clark’s first job was head strength coach at the University of Wyoming in 1981 and he’s stayed in the same profession ever since. There weren’t many positions for strength coaches in that time but his job has now become its own industry in the sports world.
“There’s been a lot of advancements, and a lot of things we thought were advancements that actually set us back, to be honest,” Clark said with the Bears. “The things that have made it easier are the computer, the ability to track numbers and do things, but just the acceptance of it is what I’ve seen. Nowadays, it’s all about performance, speed, power, change of direction.”
Coming into the organization early in the year, Clark will get a chance to implement his style through all phases of the offseason.
Here’s an interview during his time with the Chiefs, in which he discusses his strategies and workouts for the spring season.
Clark knows that in this new NFL, with Thursday games and highly–regimented workout times, each day will bring new challenges and his job will always be evolving.
“The offseason is so short,” Clark said. “Our offseason is nine weeks, but the truth of the matter is, for lifting and general conditioning, it’s five weeks. So we have five weeks to prepare them for a season that’s over 20 weeks long, that’s one of the real challenges today in the NFL.”
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