Piggybacking off Thursday’s print story on Maryland director of basketball performance Kyle Tarp and Wednesday’s blog post on the Terrapins’ summer nutrition plans, here are some more deleted scenes from Tarp’s unique strength and conditioning program.
>> Tarp measures body composition in a pod acquired through the Baltimore Ravens, which sits in one corner of his office and slightly resembles a Star Wars escape module. A player climbs into the cramped pod and has his density calculated using air displacement and a scale calibrated for mass. Basically, it measures how much space the athlete takes up.
Measurements help Tarp track changes over time, like the 2.5 percent of body fat Dez Wells dropped in a month, or the 32.6 pounds of muscle Len gained in one year, or the 23 pounds of fat Shaquille Cleare lost since arriving in College Park.
For Len, climbing into the module is a three-step process. The door hits his knees, then the 7-foot-1 center cranes his neck to the side, cramping his head.
Coach Mark Turgeon apparently would make a dynamite carny. Tarp will bring in players wearing nothing but their compression shorts to be weighed. “He’ll look at Charles [Mitchell] and say, ‘271,’ ” Tarp said. “Plus or minus one or two pounds, he’s on point. He’d be able to make some money predicting weights.”
>> Logan Aronhalt is pursuing a master’s degree in exercise physiology, so learning from Tarp has played second-fiddle to basketball. Every opportunity Aronhalt gets, he’s in the performance center, absorbing information. He explained it this way:
“It’s a little more scientific, research-based program, more at the cellular level, too. I wish I could spend more time just listening to [Tarp], just go about his lessons. Everything he does is so new and unique, it’s awesome.”
>> Among the favorite videos and pictures Tarp unearthed from his MacBook Pro included a picture of Pe’Shon Howard crawling out of the gym and Wells submerged into a full ice bath.
“If you put your whole body in there, let me take a picture, you can get out,” Wells said Tarp told him. “He’s not too strict on us to the point that we don’t like him. But he’ll be lenient. Sometimes he’ll give us a break.”
>> Save Tarp’s obviously extensive knowledge of successful conditioning and nutrition programs, the Terps take cues from his intensity. According to Tarp, a 5-foot-10 former cornerback at UC Davis, Cleare is the only player ever to out-lift him.
“You would think he just did a P-90X workout,” Wells said. “He’s that intense with what he does. You can really tell, he loves his job. We hate when he shows us how to do it. It’s like we can’t do it to that high of a level, because we don’t have the knowledge he does. Just the workouts he puts us through, it really shows. You can really see the difference.
“He’s done a really good job. The results are there. You see exactly how good of a strength and conditioning coach he is. Whenever he sees we’re not doing well on the court, he’ll pull us aside, ask what’s going on, is anything wrong with you? He always lends a helping hand with everything.”
Said Seth Allen: “Kyle’s big on encouraging others. If you finish your workout, you never just go get a drink of water. You go up to them, clap them, help them get through their weights. Kyle’s taught me how to be a better team player.”
Tarp will also sit in on film sessions and meetings with Maryland’s character coach, learning all he can from Turgeon’s program so he can adapt in the weight room.
“The biggest thing is learning from coach Turgeon, and what are the values and the qualities that he wants out of an athlete,” Tarp said. “Constantly want to reinforce what Coach Turgeon wants to accomplish. He’s the leader. I trust him in guiding where he wants our athletes, wherever he wants this program to go.”
>> Tarp also has a teaching skeleton in his office, wearing a black Under Armour beanie. When asked what drew him to fitness, Tarp pointed at the skeleton.
“If you look at this thing, it’s really impressive,” he said. “Break down the foot, 26 bones, 52 between both feet, 206 in your whole body, that’s a quarter of your bones in your feet. Break it down to that fundamental level, it’s amazing the design and build of the body when it’s trained appropriately. Over 400 muscles that work together to create coordinated movement. Watch some of these guys, like a Dez or an Alex, it’s like wow, how does the body accomplish what it accomplishes?”
>> Turgeon, never lacking a good quote, delivers again: “We do a lot of stretching. A lot of stretching. I tease Kyle, I’ve never seen a team stretch before they stretch.”
>> Len’s favorite exercise? “Curls for the girls,” he said, flexing his biceps.