Former Cougar Johnson living through changes in strength and conditioning world

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM EDT
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Tallahassee, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee native Brian Johnson has been busy since he last played for Godby High School; he won national championship at LSU, spent three seasons in the NFL and is now the director of Director of Strength and Conditioning for football at Arizona.

10 years have passed since Johnson started his career in strength and conditioning, now he has his dream job at a Power 5 school.

“Showing that I can be a leader,” Johnson said. “Showing that I can also be a follower. I think those things appealed to coach [Kevin] Sumlin to say ‘I think this person could really be a head coach when I’m not with the team.‘”

In 2010, Johnson’s journey started in Tallahassee, under then-Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Since then, he has seen the field evolve from group-based programs to more individual-based.

“You can’t treat every individual the same,” Johnson said. “10 years ago, you could. Now, technology individualizes things and now you’re looking at things like heart rate, VO2 maximum and what the lungs are doing with oxygen consumption.”

Wearables monitor an athletes activity; the device measures running speed to range of motion, but also there are devices like Forcedecks.

“It test how much power or force you’re putting out of the left leg to the right leg,” Johnson said. “That gives me an indication of maybe what leg is stronger, what leg is weaker. If there is a certain percentage difference in the leg, does that make that athlete more susceptible to injury.”

Another change is how much he works with the team nutritionist.

“10 years ago, strength coaches were the nutritionists,” Johnson explained. “Fast forward to today: I have a registered dietitian to find out what are the optimal times to fuel the athletes, what should we be filling with, what should we eat before a competition, what should we eat after a competition, what should we eat in the days leading up to a competition.”

Johnson said the craziest change is now, makes a presentation to the football coaches about how practices should be organized.

“I make suggestions on what practices should look like,” Johnson said, “How we progress the length and the intensity to the football coaches, which ten years ago that would have been crazy.”

Johnson lives in Arizona and says his only regret is that he does not get to come back to Tallahassee more often.

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