Illini Football Players, Coaches Get Creative in Quarantine Workouts


Exit press conferences and locker room access.

Enter Zoom, Cisco WebEx and teleconferences.

That’s the new normal for sports media amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Exit the weight room and group training.

Enter bench press pressing tires, pulling/pushing motor vehicles and jumping on to garbage cans.

That’s the new normal for Illini football players and coaches, as they were work on training for the next season while isolated from each other.

“Can you find a sledgehammer in the garage?” Illini Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Lou Hernandez asked rhetorically on media teleconference on Friday. It’s the perfect summation of the creativity required right now in these unprecedented times. Most, if not all gyms have been closed for a couple weeks now and it will be quite some time until they re-open.

So you have to make do with what you have, like offensive lineman and co-captain Alex Palczewski pulling a Jeep in the video below.

Then watch below that as his Dad does the same workout.

Another video making the rounds (we were about to say “going viral,” but I think we as a society need to retire that buzz phrase now, seriously) is Doug Kramer, one of the nation’s best centers, pushing a pick-up truck.

Great ingenuity by the Hinsdale native.

“Back in the day, we had a strength and conditioning program we had to follow on our own,” said Illini coach Lovie Smith.

“If there are no weights, there are pushups, pullups, situps. You can still go out and run. Customized plan for everyone.”

Yes, there are sand pits that you can run through for added resistance. We all need to stay hyrated.

Why not do some single leg squats like Illini Safety Kendall Smith?

Or work on your UPs like Illini breakout receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, by leaping on top of trash receptacles repeatedly.

Don’t take out word for it though, hear it from the Illini guys themselves. Here below is the full media call from this past week with linebacker Jake Hansen, a Butkus Award semifinalist this past season. The workout talk is around the 2:50 mark.

Below that is the full teleconference with Illini strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez:

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link

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