- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Forget the Nautilus machines, treadmills and trendy exercise gadgets found in neighborhood gyms. Dave Redding, the Washington Redskins' new strength coach, is returning to basics.

Redding promises stronger, leaner Redskins. The ones that look more like Charles Atlas than Charlie Brown. Redding wants gladiators with big necks and anvil-like biceps.

"When you see guys come through the door you're going to wonder, 'Who is that?' " linebacker Eddie Mason said.

The new strength coach is a banger. Redding's father coached high school state championships in three sports in the 1950s using an unheard-of concept: weightlifting. The son never forgot hauling coffee cans and buckets filled with concrete for his father's players. Indeed, weight training helped Redding play linebacker four years at Nebraska.

It's the metal plates banging against the bar, the grunting when he lifts nearly a refrigerator that fuel Redding. Nautilus machines still remain for those rehabilitating injuries, but players began Redding's "ground-based activity" April 2, which is comparable to wrestling a bear for 2 and 1/2 hours.

"Football teams start in April when they come back to sacrifice their summers to push each other. The atmosphere, camaraderie, loyalty all starts now," Redding said. "I don't buy into this is free agency and players don't care. They're going to get a piece of my heart every time I train them, and they're going to give me a piece of theirs.

"I have to train them for a lot of abuse. At times this summer, I'm going to take them to limits they're not going to like. The ones that work the hardest are the last to surrender."

More than 37 tons of weights now line Redskin Park's workout room. Racks of dumbbells up to 175 pounds run the entire length. That's like picking up an average adult male with one arm.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer hired Redding to oversee the $250,000 weight room makeover after their previous stints together in Cleveland (1982-88) and Kansas City (1989-98). Schottenheimer believes Redding's system simulates game conditions.

"Free weights give you the opportunity to manage weight, which is what you do when you play," Schottenheimer said. "When you block and tackle people, that's not stationary apparatus you're working against."

The offseason weightlifting program isn't mandatory but strongly encouraged. Thirty players have joined the workouts.

"If it is indeed as important to him as it is to the players here that we be successful, why isn't he here?" Schottenheimer said of anyone not working out.

Motivation is equally important to Redding. Refreshened by a two-year sabbatical from the NFL, during which he worked as a representative for Advocare, a Dallas-based nutrition company, Redding said 75 percent of his job was encouraging athletes.

"Who wants to be a loser?" Redding said. "I can't tell you how many guys have called me up after they were out of the league who said they wished they had worked harder. It's the worst feeling in the world. That's what I teach them, not just how to lift weights."

Redding even installed a wet bar for energy drinks and supplements like minerals, multivitamins and antioxidants.

"They're high-octane athletes on low-octane food," Redding said. "Their nutritional habits are awful. They take better care of their automobiles than their bodies. I give them something that they can recover and do more work. It's nothing more than sound nutrition in its purest form."

Purest form that's "the Redman's" motto. Love to bang the bar. Love to play the game.

"It's all about attitude," he said. "There's a little kid standing outside the chain link fence saying, 'I can't wait until it's my turn.' I want to bring that back to football."

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