Coach Zion Williamson details the summer workouts that put the Pelicans star in ‘in great shape’

quest to get Zion Williamson Reaching his peak physical form has been an ongoing saga since his arrival in New Orleans in 2019. Although Williamson dominated play, injuries and conditioning issues kept him off the field and hindered him from reaching his full potential. After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season due to a fractured right foot, Williamson missed 141 games during the first three years of his career.

But Williamson and his camp believe they took a decisive step toward solving those problems this summer.

The swans The star just returned to New Orleans after spending two months in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he implemented a meticulous plan he devised with his personal trainer, Jasper Pepes, to prepare for a pivotal year for him and the bereavement. In an exclusive interviewAnd the Pepes said the results were “extraordinary.”

“It’s in great shape,” Bibbs said. athlete. “He has been committed to working day in and day out. I am really proud of what he has been able to achieve. He is a better athlete now than he has ever been.”

Bibbs declined to say how much weight Williamson has lost over the summer or his current weight, but said Williamson has come a long way since they started working together in January.

“(His body composition) has improved at a very high level,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Bibbs spent five seasons as a member of Utah JazzStrength and conditioning staff, starting in 2016, develop a strong relationship with the then jazz star Donovan Mitchell. That relationship was part of the reason Williamson hired Bibbs to be his personal trainer. The two worked closely together during Williamson’s mid-season rehab in Portland, and the Bibbs went on to be a one-time standout figure for Williamson. Returned to the Pelican in March.

Once Williamson was fully approved in May to participate in off-season activities without restrictions, the focus returned to what he cared most about: basketball. With Williamson’s blessing and contributions, Bibbs devised a plan that would help him overcome the physical and mental hurdles that come with being away from the game for so long. The result: a rigorous eight-week program that included two days of workouts and a specific nutrition plan during their time in Fort Lauderdale. (Sources said that the swans did not directly participate in the formulation of the specific plan athlete.)

Below is a partial transcript of our conversation with Bibbs about the work he did with Williamson over the summer and what he expects from the star heading into the 2022-23 season.

(Some answers have been modified for clarity and brevity.)

So, how did your relationship with Zion begin?

The family called me. I have been working with Zion for nearly a year now. Our journey began in Portland during rehab after returning from a broken foot. We had to progress slowly, scientifically, gradually and safely. Many of these were non-weight-bearing cardio exercises combined with daily rehabilitation methods and daily treatments.

How did it feel to see how he works in the gym and what he looks like now?

It was a phenomenon. I am very happy with his commitment and the progress he has made, which has allowed him to be in such a wonderful place both mentally and physically. Ultimately, we wanted to make him a more flexible and efficient athlete and allow him to perform at a very high level while staying healthy through the rigors of an entire season and playoff.

This summer, we came up with a plan. I stick to the plan. We wanted Zion to not only have a great solo season, but we also wanted to focus on what he could do to help the team win. We wanted to develop it to be more flexible and to better handle the demands of being a high-explosive athlete at his size.

We focused on addressing body composition – body weight, body fat, etc. – while maintaining and improving flexibility, strength, and strength. We also focused on improving his general fitness. The more weight it carries, the greater the stress on the body. We focused on aerobic and anaerobic conditioning for basketball. One of the main goals was to return Zion to the same athletic ability he had before the injury. In the process, he improved athletically. I really think he’s a better athlete now than he was before. Once you guys see him on the field, I think you’ll agree.

Wait, do you think he’s a better athlete now?

He has tremendous speed and the ability to change directions without sacrificing speed, which is associated with improving body control through training and multiple planes of movement. When you have such amazing body control for a guy of this size, it’s really rare. We wanted him to be able to handle those amazing forces he creates when he jumps, when he runs and, in particular, during thrust-changing moves. This means that it can decelerate, but then accelerate in a way that speed is not sacrificed, and the ability to perform it safely.

No one at this point in their career would be able to improve their body composition, body control and sport in general without a massive amount of work. He had a daily commitment during the summer, getting up early at 5 in the morning from rehearsals and back in at 7 in the evening. He did it just like clockwork. The key was buying it, realizing that the plan was working, and seeing results.

How many times have you been doing these two days?

better not to say. But we put together an eight-week plan, and I’m really happy with the results.

So, how did you come to a mutual agreement about what this eight-week plan would look like?

The plan arose as soon as we went through the rehab task and was medically approved to return to full activity on the field. After that, off-season training began once the Pelicans were eliminated from the playoffs.

Did you have any expectations of going into the job? The physical development of Zion was one of the greatest events in the world NBA over the past few seasons. What were you thinking of coming?

I thought it was a huge opportunity to help a young athlete. Being in this position at this point in my career and at this point in my life has truly been a blessing from God. Being able to use my knowledge and experience to help a young man and athlete was a great opportunity. I was so excited, it was great working with him.

How did it feel to work with Zion during his time in Portland? I know this was a very important time because he was dealing with a lot mentally and physically. How did you help him through the process?

It was all about putting in the work every day. to be positive. Give positive quotes every day. Continue to help him through the rehabilitation process. It was tough, but it definitely did the work.

What did some of those days during the eight week program look like? How hard is it for you guys to go?

It all fits into the software design protocol. This includes pre-workouts, stretching, range-of-motion assessment, corrective exercises, basketball-specific conditioning, and basketball-specific strength training. Focus on everything he’ll need to be able to do it and have a great season in the NBA.

As I mentioned, he has a lot of rare physical traits. How many times was he doing things in the gym until it shocked you?

I’ve never seen an NBA player of his size who also has a level of speed and explosiveness while also having an exceptional degree of body control. It is the talent of a generation.

How do you feel that he made the most progress during the time that you two were working together?

I am very happy with his commitment to not only conditioning, but his commitment to doing all the boring work of soft tissue, stretching and nourishing. He was great with his nutrition. I am very happy with that for him. As he continues his NBA career, it is surprising that he is starting to develop these habits now at such a young stage in his career. It is just an exceptional phenomenon.

I know you don’t want to talk about specific numbers, but how much have you seen his body composition change over time?

It has been improved to a very high level. That’s all I will say.

How focused are you on injury prevention through the work you’ve been doing with Zion?

Injury prevention and health were the main focus of our program. This is part of his daily routine. Seven days a week. He’s shown great commitment in the field, working on flexibility, and range of motion. All that kind of stuff.

To what extent was he involved in coordinating what the eight-week plan would look like?

He was very involved. one hundred percent. We all sat down and figured out what it would look like together.

You can see it every day. What do you think will be the reaction when he steps back off the field and shows all you guys have been working on?

They will be excited. They will be excited to see this generational talent playing the game he loves, the joy he shows on the court and the sports he brings to the game. I think people are going to be very excited. You can only see how happy he is when he steps on the court and shows people what he can do.

It seems that you and Zion are able to develop a strong relationship over time. Why do you think you two have been able to work so well together?

During my time with athletes in the NBA, it was really important to me to be able to contact the athlete to get them to buy into the program. I think it’s just a fact and being able to educate the athlete about the importance of what we do – strength and conditioning, soft tissue work, hydration, nutrition, range of motion in every joint. The body is a chain of motion. If something is out of control, it affects the next.

During our time together, I think Zion has gotten better, and I’ve gotten better at working with him just because I’m around him so much every day. Building that relationship and putting in the work every day, he’s seen a huge amount of improvement, and he’s seen results in designing the program. It has allowed us to work together in a great way.

A lot of NBA athletes talk about not focusing on things like nutrition and sleep — all the boring parts of training I mentioned before. To what extent have you seen him take an active part in making all of these things a part of his daily routine?

It focuses on the laser. He is 100% committed. He takes responsibility for many of those areas of his health every day. We are now in a phase where the excitement and joy he gets from everyday work.

How satisfied are you with seeing the plan you guys made and the way it has been implemented over time?

We are very excited about all of that. I know I’ve said it many times, but I’m really happy with his commitment to improving his physique and body composition. He never wavered, and his ability to work at a high level improved accordingly due to everything he was doing on a daily basis. He did a great job, and I’m very happy for him.

(Photo courtesy of Jasper Pepes)

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