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Timberwolves use state-of-the-art nutrition/exercise program

Some interesting stuff here from FanHouse’s Kyle Stack, who recently published a piece on how the Timberwolves have been working with high-tech exercise and nutrition experts to help their players get into shape:

To understand how to manage weight issues [the team was concerned that Ronnie Brewer was having trouble keeping weight on], Shilstone, who directs “The Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone” at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, La., had to find the players’ daily energy output. Researching the topic gave him no information on record as to what was available on NBA player caloric expenditures. That spurred his idea to assign each of the four players to wear a pedometer on his shoe during all basketball activities.

The quarter-sized device tracked the number of steps each player took by delineating between whether they were walking or running. Up to 14 days of information could be stored on a device which was typically clipped to a shoelace but sometimes had to be attached to the laces with athletic tape to prevent it from falling off the shoe. Shilstone’s team and the Timberwolves training staff accessed the pedometer’s data by plugging it into their computers, then logging onto their privately-accessed website to view the information. Each pedometer was given a serial number to differentiate among the four players.

“We could take a guy like Corey Brewer and what was striking was a young man who was 188 pounds, over a 28-day period, was running an inordinate amount,” Shilstone said before noting that Brewer ran roughly 76 miles over that time frame. “He was literally running his weight off...”

...Understanding precisely how much energy the players expended each day helped Shilstone’s team and the Timberwolves training staff make dietary and training alterations to better serve the player’s needs. For instance, the nutritionists employed by each staff collected menus from the restaurants players would frequent on the road, including at the hotels the team stayed in, and highlighted the healthiest options for them...

Fortenberry explained the challenge wasn’t so much in getting players to eat healthier as it was in knowing when to eat. Practices and games would go by without players eating consistently before or after, the latter of which hindered their body’s ability to recover the next day. Body recovery is paramount in a league like the NBA, which has a grueling 5 1/2-month regular season where teams play as much as five times per week. For players like Brewer or Hollins, eschewing a post-game meal was detrimental to their ability to maintain their weight.

The players were encouraged to consume sports drinks like Gatorade with protein powder 15-to-20 minutes after a workout. “That’s the most important time to recover for tomorrow’s energy,” Fortenberry said. Eating a meal 2 1/2-to-4 hours before a game with a snack an hour before game time was also instituted.
There’s lots more in the full article -- click through for more examples of how far our understanding of athletic performance, the human body, and how it works has come in the last decade or so.