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The transformer

College of the Canyons coach Robert dos Remedios gets a lot of credit for athlete transformations

Posted: June 12, 2009 8:32 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2009 8:25 p.m.

College of the Canyons strength and conditioning coach Robert dos Remedios pushes a sled with weights on it in the hallway of the school's gymnasium. It is one of the unorthodox exercises he makes athletes do.

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The sign on the office door reads: “Cougar Strength, Championships Start Here.”

Inside the office, Robert dos Remedios talks about transformations.

The sort of transformations that have helped win championships.

dos Remedios, College of the Canyons’ strength and conditioning coach since 1998, has helped athletes become, as head football coach Garett Tujague puts it, “beasts.”

“What I say is have somebody you trust take a picture of you in your skivvies, then when you’re done take another picture,” Tujague says of the strength and physique changes of his athletes.

dos Remedios, 42, helps train a majority of the athletes at College of the Canyons.

It’s football where the most publicized changes are made.

Two of his star pupils are NFL players.

dos Remedios said he remembers when NFL running back J.J. Arrington and defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga arrived at College of the Canyons as vastly different athletes than when they left.

“J.J. couldn’t have been more than 175 (pounds),” dos Remedios says. “Isaac was 225, 230 when he got here.”

By the time Arrington left COC for Cal, he was up to at least 200 pounds and Sopoaga was nearly 300 when he arrived at Hawaii.

Tujague puts it in better terms.

He says Arrington’s lateral movement improved so much that he could “shake you in a phone booth.” Sopoaga got so strong he could lift himself from the ground into a standing position.

The results come from a no-nonsense approach that constantly challenges the human body.

dos Remedios says his program is not popular because of the way athletes feel after the workout.

He pushes them to exhaustion, challenging them to overload their bodies.

His athletes use sleds, rings and bands. They run in a sandpit, wheelbarrow each other up stairs and chop with a weighted ball.

But dos Remedios is well-known across the country.

He writes for Men’s Health magazine. He wrote the book “Men’s Health Power Training.” He is also called upon to speak to other trainers and coaches.

Today, he is in Chicago to do that.

In April, he spoke at the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association conference in April.

“I know it was the first time they hear a JC coach talk,” he says.

In 2006, he was awarded the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year.

dos Remedios says there are plenty of examples of guys who have arrived at COC spindly and awkward and gone through his program and become big and mighty.

The most success, he says, comes from the guys who spend three years in his program.

An example he pointed to is David Padilla.

Padilla, a center who started one varsity year at Valencia (2007), grayshirted in 2008 at COC then was a backup in 2009.

Tujague says if the season were to begin today, Padilla would be the team’s starter.

When he arrived at COC, though, he weighed 230 pounds.

Padilla says he was in good shape, but never envisioned he would be where he is today — a 270-pound muscular football player.

“Nervous, I’d have to say,” Padilla says of how he felt when he first arrived at COC. “There were a lot of big guys, a lot bigger than me. I knew I had to work to get to their level.”

dos Remedios says that there are some grayshirts who take advantage of that time by making the most in the weight room, as they are ineligible to play in games.

Padilla did just that.

Recently, Padilla broke the school’s all-time power clean record, lifting 333 pounds three times in succession.

Padilla credits dos Remedios.

“He definitely puts us through hell,” Padilla says. “We are pushed to the limit everyday and it’s all about your personal effort you put in.”

What is hell?

The training is usually four times a week.

Lifting is done for 45 to 50 minutes.

Then another 35 to 40 minutes is spent doing exercises outside of a weight room.

Those could be running in a sand pit, sled pulls, tire flipping or running the bleachers.

Sounds simple?

It’s not.

The intensity and the types of exercises are unlike any the athletes saw prior to their arrival at COC.

“We outwork everybody,” dos Remedios says.

dos Remedios gives an example of the intensity of the workouts.

He hands out index cards that asks the athlete to do four sets of eight reps on an exercise.

On that first set, he expects them to do their max.

Some kids will hand in cards where they increase weight from set to set.

dos Remedios knows that the ones who decreased their weight from set to set were giving their everything from the beginning.

The strength and conditioning coach says there is the hope that a thought crosses every athlete’s head when they’re training with him.

The thought is that they want to quit or that they hate the exercise because of its intensity.

Padilla says there are those that quit. Some on “dos Day.”

“dos Day” falls on the first day of football practice with pads.

After the practice, the football players go through conditioning drills — timed 100-yard dashes and bleacher runs, to name a few exercises.

It’s a breath-taking, heart-racing, vomit-inducing hell ride.

“In the end, you see people quitting,” Padilla says.

That’s how the football team sifts out the dedicated from the non-dedicated.

The women’s basketball team, head coach Greg Herrick says, made a transformation that’s not measured by pounds but by points.
Herrick’s teams have led the state in scoring eight of the last 13 seasons.

He said, though, that the old knock on the Cougars was that they couldn’t play defense.

After dos Remedios arrived at COC in 1998, Herrick said that changed.

“Ever since we had him, we’ve been physically able to guard people,” Herrick says. “Our leg strength has been such that we can guard people man to man.

“He has transformed us from a one-dimensional team to do more things than just score.”

It has also prepared his team to get faster on the fast break.

Herrick says dos Remedios prepares his girls through torturous exercises in the school’s sand pit.

And the strength and conditioning coach has been hard on the girls at times.

Herrick says dos Remedios has even kicked girls out of the weight room for not giving enough effort.

There’s a warning sign next to the football office at College of the Canyons.

It reads, “June 15, 6 a.m., no excuses, no explanations.”

That’s the first day of summer practice for the COC football team.

It’s the first day dos Remedios gets to work with them as well.

Tujague is quick to correct somebody who calls what dos Remedios dishes out as punishment.

“We don’t call it punishing,” the coach says. “We call it getting better. We’re going to get better June 15.”

cosborne@the-signal.com

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