Hamstring curls and shirtless pictures: social media strength
UB football’s new strength and conditioning coach looking to change team environment
It’s no secret that athletes love social media. They can post highlights, workout videos and pictures of them in uniform. New football strength and conditioning coach Lewis Caralla has fully embraced social media and uses it as a tool for competition and to show off his players.
Named to the position barely a month after the end of the 2017 season, Caralla was tasked with refocusing and bringing a new energy to the Buffalo locker room. With his energetic style and Twitter page, @UBFballStrength, Caralla has done just that.
Caralla said his plan is to bring his high competitive spirit and encouragement into players’ growth.
“Lou has come in with enthusiasm and a great positive message and has really connected with this group at the right time,” said head coach Lance Leipold. “Where we are as a program and where he came in, we found the right guy at the right time. Our guys have really embraced him.”
On June 25, the Twitter page posted a video of sophomore Jovany Ruiz doing a nordic hamstring pull. The video was retweeted over 12 thousand times and has 6.59 million views, as of Sunday morning.
The exercise requires players to be on their knees, bend all the way to the ground and backup without using anything but their hamstring and core muscles.
Caralla started the page when he joined the team in January. For him, social media is a way to get players energized and ready to compete. The page consistently posts photos of the best lifting group of the day, with players flexing to show the hard work they put in.
“They love social media and I love doing it for them,” Caralla said. “We have one of our interns take pictures of our lifts and it shows the more competitions that we're doing and they like being in those pictures”
Caralla has remained in football ever since his playing days at Defiance College. He was an All-Conference running back and voted the team’s most valuable player at the Division III school. He’s worked at schools including University of Michigan, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and University of North Texas. Most recently, Caralla has spent his past two years at University of Louisiana at Lafayette helping the team to a bowl appearance in 2016.
Ruiz’s hamstring curl is not the first time Caralla has had a viral workout video. While at Louisiana-Lafayette, the coach had his offensive and defensive lineman doing wall sits with metal plates on top of them. While the plates added more weight, Caralla built toughness in his players by walking on top of them during the exercise.
“I’m always trying to think of different ways to reach the kids, different ways to excite them,” Caralla said. “I know they didn't sign their letter of intent to lift weights here. It's my job to think of ways to make them love lifting weights. It could be a real difference maker in your program if you have that. Every Friday in the summer was different themed lifts and it was different out-of-the-box thinking that challenged them.”
Caralla said how it would not be fair to single out any of the players who worked the hardest this summer as it was a team-effort. Caralla separated workouts into three categories. He said players were either starving, hungry or satisfied with starving as the best and satisfied being the worst.
“He's helped all the team,” said senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson. “You have to have an energy. You go to the weight room and if you're quiet, he'll tell you to come back in. You really have to be loud in there, you have to be ready. You can't be in there lazy and drowned out, you have to be ready to lift.”
Caralla gathers the team at the end of each week and announces the winner of the lift group for that week and “punishes” the worst. Caralla said that punishments were handled “in the weight room.” When done, Caralla says one final sentence to the team.
“We get to lift today,” Caralla screams to an empty UB Stadium.
Nathaniel Mendelson is a sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org