Train, eat, sleep, repeat: Weight a 24/7 battle for Buffs

Senior tailback Tony Jones squats during an afternoon workout.  (Nate Bruzdzinksi/CU Independent)
Senior tailback Tony Jones squats during an afternoon workout. (Nate Bruzdzinski/CU Independent)

Ask the Buffaloes who Dave Forman is and they will point to the guy in the corner of the field, making players sweat as much off the field as they do on. His pre-spring workouts don’t just happen three times a week at practice. For the players, it’s a 24/7 lifestyle of gaining and losing weight for the fall season.

Forman, Director of Sports Performance, is reminiscent of a military drill sergeant, and maybe his persona is helped by the camo Buffs hat he is often seen in. Fitting, since he is in charge of getting Colorado in tip-top shape.

Being a bigger and more physical football team in the Pac-12 conference is pivotal to reaching the team’s 2016 goal of getting into a bowl game. It takes big men to compete and even bigger men to win games.

“In general, we are a collision sport,” Forman said. “We are gonna be banging up against other bodies. It’s like armor; muscle is protecting your body and the bigger you are, the stronger you are then the more durable you’re going to be. Obviously then if you go and hit someone larger, you should win most of those collisions.”

Effectively pinpointing how to get each player bigger, smaller, or in overall better shape requires the help of the University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

Each individual player, through a series of blood work and stress tests by Anschutz, is given an accurate target heart rate for the most effective weight loss or gain. About 90 percent of the athletes on the team have already been tested.

“We can give a specific prescription and say you need to spend ‘x’ amount of time in this heart rate zone,” Forman said. “We got heart rate monitors to help with that. It’s not really intense – like a jog-tempo where you could have a conversation, but you are breathing heavy. We are building an aerobic-base.”

Using the heart monitoring system made by Polar, Forman and the coaches can monitor what a practice is physically doing to a player in terms of calories lost and heart rate. The next step is adjusting the player’s daily intake of calories to replace those that were lost in the early morning workouts. The ultimate goal is to gain mass.

The Anschutz tests also confirm that various target zones help athletes increase mitochondria density. Being a “cellular powerhouse” assists player stamina through the intense, repeated bouts of sprinting that football is known for.

Though Forman is doing all he can on the scientific side, the true success of this weight-control program comes down to eating right.

“The goals to gain and lose are all the same except for one,” Forman said. “For the gain guys, it’s that they should have a high-protein snack an hour before bed. And for the lose guys, they don’t eat anything three hours before bed. It is a very simple plan, but again, it is changing a lifestyle, it’s changing a habit, it’s changing 18 or 19 years of eating McDonald’s dollar menu.”

All players, like junior defensive lineman Josh Tupou and junior defensive back Yuri Wright, are required to use the 10-point checklist for weight adjustments. They must track what they eat and what workouts they perform in order to help coaches identify aspects of off-the-field habits that are hindrances to proper training.

Tupou is currently continuing his 30-pound weight loss goal. As a defensive tackle, he must achieve maximum maneuverability, and that is helped by being lighter.

“It’s a lot through my play – being able to be faster out there on field, be out there longer and be more productive by being lighter,” Tupou said. “One thing I am trying to cut back on is what I am eating. You know, I like eating, so I don’t want to eat too much.”

On the opposite end of the scale, Wright, who was redshirted last year in part because of his smaller size, is in the hot seat to gain, gain, gain. He came to Boulder at around 155 pounds, and has since reached his highest weight to date, 174 pounds.

“I am trying to stay on a schedule and stay consistent with my eating,” Wright said. “That is one of my hardest things for me right now is to keep weight on my body. I am just keeping consistent with what I am eating and watching what I eat.”

“One thing is physically I want to be able to protect myself, because being this size I am vulnerable to get hurt,” he said. “Another thing is, playing in the Pac-12, you gotta have some size. Competing with bigger receivers nowadays, I gotta get kinda big to be able to compete with these guys.”

Contact CU Independent staff writer Gavin B. Griffin at

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