Spotlight: The science of strength

BY JON FRANK | DECEMBER 09, 2010 7:10 AM

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It’s 9:30 a.m., and JC Moreau is in the Recreation Center’s weight room coaching.

Glints of sun beam through a nearby window as he crouches in a squatting position, dumbbells in either hand. The 34-year-old rows his arms — a concentrated motion for maximum effectiveness.

Becky Walters, a former Hawkeye volleyball player, pays close attention to the trainer’s form.

“Make sure you’re pressing up straight over your head,” Moreau instructs.

The native of Montréal is meticulous in his body of work. He stands close to Walters, carefully examining her form as she partakes in a combination lift.

“[Moreau]’s one of my really good friends,” Walters said. “But he knows when to get down to business … He’s very intense in workouts. I definitely remember stairs on Fridays. He would get us really pumped up.”

Walters, a senior, first met Moreau during her sophomore year. She instantly noticed an increased workload during workout sessions, which helped the volleyball team get stronger and more athletic.

“The expectation to do everything perfectly is always stressed,” Moreau said.

The Iowa athletics department hired Moreau in November 2007, but his intensity in the gym traces back to his days in high school. A naturally gifted fullback, he relied on the work outside of practice to earn a scholarship to Colgate University.

“I knew the weight room was where I could separate myself from the competition,” he said.

His passion for weight training carried on long past his high-school career.

“I always knew I wanted to be a strength coach,” he said. “It’s so enjoyable to watch an athlete come in the doors as a freshman … and watching him develop.”

After graduating from Colgate, Moreau earned a master’s in human-movement science at the University of Memphis. From there, he was able to combine knowledge acquired from personal experience and scientific research.

“As I evolve in my career, there is a lot that is quite practical that you learn through experience. Every team is going to be different,” he said. “With basketball, for example, you may have planned to do a pretty hard workout. And the night before, two days before, they had a really tough game that went into overtime and certain players had to play 35 minutes … so you need to make adjustments on the fly. That’s one thing that is definitely learned over time.”

Moreau works most closely with women’s basketball and volleyball. During the squads’ lifting sessions, he is present and actively engages athletes — always on the lookout for proper form.

Moreau carefully crafts all workout regimens. He even tailors programs specifically for individual athletes.

And to ensure that passion is a universal characteristic across the board, Moreau hires trainers who share his passion.

“That’s one of the things at this level that’s kind of expected from a strength coach,” he said. “That makes us one of the best staffs in the country.”

Dan Hammes, a former assistant at Iowa, worked under Moreau until he was hired by North Dakota State. Moreau mentored Hammes during his tenure at Iowa. He taught Hammes about the management side of training. Hammes said Moreau allotted him the opportunity to exercise his own style, which helped him grow as a trainer.

“[Moreau]’s very passionate about his job,” the Sigourney native said. “He has his own style of coaching to motivate athletes … he showed me that [training] is a lot more than just science. There’s a huge psychological and management aspect.”

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