Giants' weight room reflects shift in Ben McAdoo era

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New head coaches are typically allowed a certain amount of leeway when it comes to interior decorating at a team's facility, but the Ben McAdoo era looks and feels similar to what came before at first glance.

The clocks are still five minutes fast -- former coach and current NFL senior advisor Tom Coughlin told McAdoo not to mess with them on McAdoo's first day as the team's offensive coordinator in 2014 -- and the Lombardi Trophies are still polished and on display in the main lobby. The corridor between the cafeteria and the locker room is still lined with pictures of the team's most legendary players on one side and silver-plated versions of newspaper articles from their championship runs on the other.

But continue north, down a hallway that leads to the player parking lot, and you'll finally realize that day-to-day management has changed hands.

Welcome to the Giants' new weight room.

"All great athletes are great movers," head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman, hired this year after McAdoo's promotion, said during a tour of the facility early Tuesday morning. "Not all great athletes are the strongest guys, but they're all efficient and they move well. Our mission is to maximize their strength, speed and power and minimize the amount of orthopedic stress we put on the body.

"Obviously, we're going to stress their bodies, but when we talk about orthopedic stress, we're talking about joint stress. We've put together a room that allows us to do all of that efficiently."

The 35-yard-long open-concept workout facility is the most definitive evidence that the team is moving into another era. Rows of new Keiser machines -- hulking, multi-use racks where players can perform anything from squats to gravity pull-ups -- line the area from end to end, with removable plyometric boxes at the foot of each contraption. Players have certain lifts customized by speed to their position. There are charts measuring perceived exertion. More space between machines means more room for dynamic warm-ups to protect players against strain.

On the far wall hangs one of McAdoo's cornerstone phrases: Sound, Smart, Tough. On another: Your Habits Determine Your Success. In a building that can sometimes resemble a museum, an homage to decades of past achievements, it's hard not to notice a new voice.

The change is emblematic of the much larger moves the team made this offseason. To understand the new weight room and staff is to understand what was beautiful but dusty about the previous regime. Over Coughlin's final years, strength and conditioning was the source of some of the more frequent -- but private -- complaints among certain players. According to several conversations with Giants over the last four years, they talked about the search for training help outside the facility, sometimes during the season. Some preferred a more movement- and strength-based regimen, even if the old program created two different Super Bowl rosters. The team radically overhauled its sports performance department in 2013 and its nutrition plan in 2014. Most players loved and respected their experienced strength staff, the key members of which had been with Coughlin since he took over in New York in 2004, but some also had an eye on how the rest of the NFL was operating.

According to Football Outsiders, the Giants led the NFL in Adjusted Games Lost due to injury each of the last three seasons.

It was a small chess move for McAdoo that could end up paying dividends. Once Wellman was installed in January, the floor plan was designed and the industrial equipment was ordered within a week. Late nights and early mornings stacked together so a new fitness shrine could be ready for minicamp.

"I'm just out there trying to be myself, trying to do what is best for the team," McAdoo said Tuesday, when asked what he's learned about his role over a few training camp practices. "I want to help the leaders and put them in a position to be successful."

Just outside of that weight room, another noticeable difference blares out of a massive sound system on the sideline. Under Coughlin, music would be peppered in, more frequently during looser Friday sessions. But McAdoo has it going for the majority of practice.

He spends hours in the heat crouched like an H-back staring into drills and uses "TV Time-Outs" -- a break announced over the loudspeaker accompanied by classic television show theme songs -- to correct errors in the previous drill on the fly. In those moments, he is every bit as tedious and impassioned as his former boss, and perhaps that is what the Giants were hoping for all along: change, but not radical change. Getting stronger, smarter. Getting better, faster. All while remembering the strength within the roots.

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