An Interview with Brian Remington, M.S., C.S.C.S

interview chair
An Interview with Brian Remington, M.S., C.S.C.S
by: Marc McDougal

Brian Remington is in his third season as a member of the University of Buffalo sports performance staff. Brian is a recent recipient of his Master’s degree in Applied Physiology at UB in 2007 and a 2005 graduate of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a minor in nutrition.

Currently, Remington is responsible for assisting with all aspects of Football strength and Conditioning as well as designing and implementing programs for Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Men’s and Women’s Tennis. A native of Arvada, CO, Remington began his collegiate career at Adams State in Alamosa, CO where he played football until suffering a career-ending knee injury. He went on to work as an undergraduate assistant in the strength and conditioning department at Northern Colorado in the winter and spring of 2005, working with all the Bears’ teams, including the women’s tennis team that won the 2005 NCAA Division I Independent Championship. Remington also served as a sports performance intern at Arizona State in the summer of 2005, working primarily with the Sun Devils’ nationally-ranked football team. Remington is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He was also Colorado’s state power lifting champion in 2001 at the 220-pound weight class.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Brian. Start us off by talking a bit about how you got into your current position, and what exactly that position is.

Initially I volunteered my time as a senior at the University of Northern Colorado. It was a smaller school (D2) and they only had one strength coach so he was willing to give me a lot of responsibility very quickly. I had a good background in strength training being a former athlete and competitive power lifter so I picked things up quickly. The largest obstacle to overcome when you go into coaching is the communication aspect, people discount that quite a bit. You may have all of the answers and plenty of knowledge but if you can’t convey your expectations to your athletes in a manner they can both respect and relate to, it’s very tough being a coach. From there my boss, Ty Peterson, recommended me to do a summer internship at Arizona State University under the tutelage of Joe “Big House” Kenn. I went down there to work all summer for no pay, no housing or anything except college credit. Luckily I have great parents who were willing to support me, and it turned out to be a great learning experience. I learned more in the 3 months I was there than I had in the previous 18 years of my life. His internship program throws everything at you that you will experience as a strength coach (early rising at 4 AM, working sometimes to 8 PM, deadlines, working in high pressure, fast paced environment, coaching your ass off, constant cleaning and upkeep of their awesome 15,000 sq. ft. facility, set up and tear down of all equipment for all sessions, educational staff meetings, presentations, and doing the same workouts the players do, etc). I truly believe that if you can swallow that “strength coaching concentrate” for a whole summer and still want to be a strength coach afterwards, you are one of few. After a tough summer I earned a recommendation to become a Graduate Assistant here at the University at Buffalo where I’m currently working. I held that GA position for 2 years and earned my Master’s degree. During that time I worked under 3 great strength coaches (Cheyenne Pietri, Buddy Morris, and Ryan Groneman), all of whom I owe a great deal to and respect highly.

Did you find that your college education adequately prepared you for the work you’re currently doing? What aspects did, and where did it fall short?

Yes and No. I feel it is important to understand the body, its structures and metabolism, its vital to have that foundation of knowledge. What I find very interesting, however, is that you can get a bachelors, masters, and certification all without having ever stepped foot in a weight room. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true! For my profession most of my knowledge has come from training myself and being a former athlete. Yes, I do read daily and I have the education to back it up but if I’m looking to hire an assistant I’m not only looking for the formal education, but “under the bar experience” as well as playing experience are just as important. Also, as I noted above, communication is huge and if you train yourself and have been through similar experiences as your athletes, it is much easier to communicate and relate to them and you’ll find their respect for you will be much higher. This makes it much easier for them to buy in to what you’re selling.

Where do you see yourself going in the field, 5, 10 years?

My ultimate goal is to be a head strength coach for a professional team (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB). I would like that to come true within ten years. I would also be just as happy being a Head D1 strength coach. All I ever wanted to do was to help athletes achieve better performance, so even if I’m in some hole in the wall gym making nothing I’ll still be happy.

Who are some of your influences in the field (anything…strength coaches, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, philosophers, whatever)?

I’m influenced by everyone in the field and even my athletes. Influences may be positive or negative. I am always reading something and trying to continue to search out the best, most efficient ways to train my athletes. I read a lot of things that I agree with. I read a lot of things that I disagree with. I also read a lot of things that are great but are inefficient to implement in a team setting. Therefore, everything influences me. That being said, these are a few people that influence me on a daily basis:

Buddy Morris- Head Strength Coach at Pitt Louie Simmons- Westside Barbell Tommy Myslinski- Head strength coach for Cleveland Browns Paul Childress- coworker, World record Powerlifter

Do you work with any clients on physique oriented goals, or strictly sports performance?

I don’t do much with physique goals regarding appearance. If any thing it is body composition goals to enhance performance goals. There is something to be said, however, “if you look good, you feel good and you play good”

Let’s talk warm-ups. Give me a brief run down of a pre-game warm up for football.

We start out with a dynamic warm-up similar to the Parisi Warm-up for proper muscle activation and muscle temp elevation. We save the static stretching for post workout.

What about warm ups for weight training?

I typically follow this format:

  1. Something dynamic
  2. Something for Pre-hab
  3. Something to potentiate the muscle group(s) to be trained
What type of training philosophies do you implement?

I use the conjugate method of training. I love it because it takes into account CNS stress and provides adequate recovery for both the CNS (96 hours) and muscle groups (72hours) being worked. It also allows us to train the 3 most important traits (Effort, Speed, Volume) year round as opposed to a linear progression where you transition from one to the next. The problem with that is as you switch focus to the next trait you actually de-train the last. Here is a sample week:


Speed Work/ Plyos
Max effort Lower Body
Volume w/ accessory lifts
Dynamic Effort upper body
Volume w/ accessory lifts
Speed Work/ Plyos
Dynamic Effort Lower Body
Volume w/ accessory lifts
Max Effort Upper body
Volume w/ accessory lifts



What are the most common injuries you see with your athletes?

We had a lot of labral tears this season that required surgery. Most of these occurred with freshman who come in and play right away. They haven’t had the opportunity to build their upper backs up with us in the weight room so their shoulders are more susceptible to injury. If you took an MRI of all football players, most of them would have some sort of labral damage from the pounding nature of the game. We don’t see a lot of hip flexor, hamstring, or groin injuries because we keep our guys in great shape year round to combat fatigue and we train the hell out of their posterior chain. If it does happen it usually happens in the beginning of fall camp with either incoming freshman and/or guys that weren’t involved with our summer conditioning program. We see some hammy stuff with our guys that are hyper-lordotic (anterior pelvic tilt). Their pelvis is extremely rotated anteriorly putting their hamstrings already in a lengthened state and a mechanical disadvantage. These athletes will typically complain their hamstrings are “tight” and want to stretch them. All this does is lengthen them even more and expose them to further injury. We have found great success in stretching the hip flexors 3-4x daily. With the hyper lodotic athletes the hip flexors are shortened and the hamstrings are lengthened.

What are some other common muscular imbalances, as well as static and dynamic postural devations in your athletes?

In addition to what was stated above we see some guys with the opposite; a posterior pelvic tilt (very flat back, no arch). An easy way to tell is when they squat, they have a hard time maintaining their arch and their pelvis rolls under them at a certain depth. This posture is characterized by the shortening of the hip extensors (hamstring and glute inflexibility), tight abdominals, and lax hip flexors.

We see just about everything and make adjustments on a daily basis to adapt the program to the athlete not force the athlete to adapt to the program. Every athlete is different and no two athletes will respond to training the same or at the same rate. So why should the program be a one size fits all program? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It takes a great coach to not only understand this but to alter the program individually on a daily basis (often times on the fly) to keep everyone up to speed. Most of the incoming freshman have very weak posterior chains (traps, rhomboids, erectors, glutes and hamstrings). We spend a lot of time building these areas up.

What do you do for your pre-hab modalities?

Mostly rotator cuff work, glute medius activation, VMO work, and hip mobility.

What are some popular supplements with your athletes?

The NCAA only allows us to give out what is considered a “meal replacement” in which the CHO: Pro ratio must be greater than 2:1, which we give out daily post work out. Some guys needing to gain weight will also have one mid workout for extra calories. I know some guys take creatine but we preach proper nutrition first and foremost. The problem is with most guys is they don’t eat like they should and what they do eat is garbage (McD’s, Burger King, Taco Bell etc.). People are always looking for the magic cure or the quick fix but what they don’t understand is that if nutrition is sound, most supplements won’t have much of an effect. That’s why they call it a supplement.

Do you work with athletes on specific nutrition plans, or just generalities?

For most of the athletes it’s just to eat!!! As simple as it sounds we are lucky to get them to eat more than 2x a day. So if we get them to eat more we are heading in the right direction. We closely monitor weight gain/loss to keep it in line with goals. Since we do not provide our guys with a training table, it is very hard to regulate what these guys eat so the best we can do is to educate and hope a few things are taken to heart. Our big points we hammer daily are:

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Eat post work out
  3. Hydrate

If we can accomplish these with the majority of our athletes we are better off than before.

Interesting, it always surprises me that athletes at this level of competition tend to be clueless about nutrition.
Any athletes to keep an eye on?

Our center Jamey Richards should get drafted (Projected 4th or 5th round), he’s a really a solid player. Trevor Scott, our defensive end, could possibly get drafted in the later rounds. He is an absolute freak! One of the best athletes I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He got here as a skinny freshman (6’5, 210lbs) and is leaving an absolute beast (6’5, 265) Ran a 4.62 in the 40, benches close to 450, reps 225 over 35 times and squats almost 600. He beats everyone on the team in conditioning and in sprints, just does it all. Whoever picks him up will have a gem. Our running back James Starks is another to look out for the next couple of years. He was a sophomore this year and had our schools 1st 1,000 yd rushing season. Anyone who has seen him play knows he is the real deal. He is a local kid but he could be playing anywhere in the country. He’s that good.

Aside from Trevor Scott, who are some of your strongest guys, and what kind of numbers do they put up?

I should say first, we define our program by wins on the field not by our numbers in the weight room. You might be able to squat a house but if you’re standing next to me on the sideline on Saturdays, what good is id doing you. I focus on developing each player as an athlete not as a lifter. Do I want you to get stronger? Of course! But strength numbers will only take you so far. You still have to play the game. That being said, I really believe we have one of the stronger teams in the country. Last winter testing we had over 30 guys squat over 500 lbs and almost 50 guys bench over 300.

What was it like working with Buddy Morris?

Working with Buddy was the best learning experience of my life. The 6 months I worked with him, my learning curve sharpened greatly. He literally lives, eats, drinks and sleeps training. Always reading something and improving himself as a coach. It hit me the first day I met him that he is the smartest guy I have ever met. I realized that he reads soo much on a daily basis that I have my work cut out for me being half his age to catch up. The things that he always preached to me that will stick with me forever are:

  1. You’ve got to be a GREAT beginner coach. Master the basics.
  2. The day you think you’ve got it figured out is the day you become a terrible strength coach. You will diminish your athlete’s and your own abilities to improve.
  3. Stay a step ahead of your athlete’s bodies. The day the athlete has adapted is the day their body stops improving
  4. Read at least 1 hour a day and you will be one of the top 5 knowledgeable strength coaches in 5 years. Information doubles in this country every 12-14 months.
  5. Forget all of the other BS, Its about the athletes.
What is your take on peri-workout nutrition for athletes?

I’m a big fan of ingesting a whey/ maltodextrin drink at the onset and throughout training sessions that are going to last longer than 1 hour. It controls the issue of entering a catabolic state during training and will allow you to train longer without it becoming counter productive. It is important for us to preach this to our players during our summer program where our training sessions often last up to 150 min start to finish. These sessions include warm-up, plyometrics, running, lifting and stretching. Although we are very precise about manipulating training loads, volumes, and intensities, sipping on a shake like this during training will go a long way to minimize overtraining.

Talk a bit about training/nutrition/supplementation for yourself.

If things go as planned I’ll be getting into some powerlifting meets in 2008 (haven’t competed in powerlifting since 2001) to get my feet wet again. I working with a beat-up shoulder and I’ve blown my knee out twice (5 years ago playing Football) so I do the best I can. Nutritionally, I just try to eat a sound well balanced diet, nothing special. I limit my processed foods almost entirely and try to ingest something every 3 hours. I recently read Eat Right for Your (Blood) Type so I plan to evaluate some of those theories shortly. As far as supplements, I’m pretty basic. I take a combo of Carbs/EAA’s/Beta Alanine during my workouts, whey protein in the morning with my bowl of mixed berries and casein before I go to bed. I also take Greens Plus with every meal because I’m a bad boy and don’t eat my veggies.

Thanks for the interview Brian; we’ll keep an eye out for your athletes.
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