Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Greater Focus on Off-Season Conditioning Has Lowry & Co. in Top Form

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Greater Focus on Off-Season Conditioning Has Lowry & Co. in Top Form

Article excerpt

Off-season conditioning has Raptors fit

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VICTORIA - Norm Powell has always been a big fan of three-a-days. But three workouts in six hours?

The Toronto Raptors combo guard arrived at training camp in the "best shape of my life" after a gruelling off-season training regimen of back-to-back-to-back workouts, at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., and 9 a.m. His rest between sessions was the time it took to drive to the next gym.

"I'd work out three times a day every summer, but I used to do one in the morning, one in the afternoon and then night, spaced out," Powell said. "But I wanted to really train my body in a different way, push myself through fatigue. It definitely trained my body in a different way."

The team's sports science guru Alex McKechnie said the Raptors took a "very disciplined approach" heading into this past off-season, with closer monitoring of players' summer conditioning programs than ever before. The results are evident in a lean Kyle Lowry, among others.

"(Lowry's) in great shape, Jonas (Valanciunas), all of our guys," said coach Dwane Casey. "I don't know of anyone who's not in great basketball condition. This is probably the best summer our guys have had as far as body fat, weight, conditioning, running, since I've been here."

The 24-year-old Powell spent the summer in Los Angeles, and began his day with a workout in El Segundo. He'd drive 20 minutes to UCLA for the second workout, and then another 15 minutes to Santa Monica for the third.

"I feel a lot stronger. . . especially in my weights and conditioning, it was a different type of workout than I'm used to, high reps, and non-stop. It was tiring, fatiguing your muscles really quickly, but being able to lock in and push through that mentally. So I feel I'm in the best shape of my life and ready to go."

McKechnie, a Scot who was hired by Toronto in 2013 after several seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, said the goal heading into last summer was stricter monitoring of players, and regular communication with their personal trainers and training groups. Players met with a dietician, then their weight and body fat was measured weekly.

They went one step further with newcomers C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby. The team sent a staff member to San Antonio weekly to check in with Miles. When the Raptors took Anunoby, who was recovering from a torn ACL, 23rd overall in the draft, they quickly set his recovery plan into motion.

"The night we drafted him, we laid out his plan for the summer," McKechnie said. …

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