Mike Barwis is the current strength and conditioning coach of the Michigan Wolverines. He’s an accomplished coach who has worked with all sports at the collegiate level, professional athletes, and Olympians. However, he’s best known for aiding the football programs at West Virginia (’03-’07) and Michigan (since ’08).
Let me preface the following thoughts with a few statements:
– I don’t know Barwis
– I’m not a Michigan fan
– At the time of this writing, I haven’t seen any programs by Barwis, only articles and a crazy YouTube video I’ll link below
– His track record speaks for itself
My impression is that Barwis has a general strength program, and then he quickly converts this strength into what I will refer to here as “usable strength”. Obviously if someone is very strong and they cannot apply that strength into proper, efficient, and effective movement on the field, then they are of no use to the football coaching staff. In the video below, Barwis explains his gamut of conditioning, movement based flexibility, and increasing the athlete’s ability to do their job on the field with sport specific work. It’s kind of hard to summarize the “Barwis Philsophy”, since his explanation of his program lasts nine minutes:
You’ll notice the guy is…full of energy. You’ll notice he has a raspy voice. You probably now understand why he garners respect from his athletes — he shows them that he cares by exhibiting his commitment to their success. As he succeeds, his reputation grows, and he is nearing Chuck Norris status.
Apparently he owned two pet wolves that he used to wrestle. He has a MMA background (that he doesn’t talk about much). Some West Virginia players attempted to catch him off guard and give him a friendly woopin’, but he took them out before they knew what happened (read about it here on Wikipedia). But most importantly, he treats his athletes like family.
And let’s not forget his accomplishments. One example is Brandom Graham, who weighed 315, benched 315, and power cleaned 225 when he got on campus. Now he’s 265, benching 495, and power cleaning 445. Barwis makes it known that they aren’t concerned with only weight room strength, but taking that strength and applying it to football, yet those numbers with Graham are still impressive nonetheless.
There are countless games where Michigan has performed well in the second half, and the entire team attributed it to their superior conditioning. Barwis gets is athletes strong and conditioned, and does so while earning the respect of all of his athletes — this means I’m a fan. Good stuff.