Runnin' Rebels Put In Offseason Work
Strength and conditioning coach Jason Kabo helps the players stretch after a recent practice.
Strength and conditioning coach Jason Kabo helps the players stretch after a recent practice.

Nov. 11, 2010

By Chris Aguiar, Special to

LAS VEGAS ( - The dedication and hard work for a successful college basketball season began long before the official start of practice on Oct. 15. While the majority of college students were spending their summers at home, the Runnin' Rebels were hitting the weights at the Lied Athletic Complex to prepare for the upcoming season.

Assistant director of strength and conditioning Jason Kabo has designed a regimen specific to the basketball team in order to prepare the players for the season ahead. Kabo, who is in his 10th season working with the men's basketball program, breaks the strength and conditioning program down into phases.

"The programs for my sports are so different because each sport uses different energy systems," Kabo said. "Each program is even different depending on the part of the year."

The first phase of the program - the Anatomical Adaptation Phase - began after last season ended as the players returned to the weight room and spent time familiarizing themselves with the various movements. The transition was made to the first part of the summer where the workout program moved to a Strength and Hypertrophy Phase, where the team focused on building muscle mass and strength. In the Power Phase, which takes place at the middle to the end of the summer, the players work on explosiveness and moving the weight as fast as they can. As the fall semester kicks off, the team decreases the weights and integrates plyometrics to include jumping and improve explosiveness.

The next step is a five-week preseason phase where the effort keys in on improving conditioning through a lot of running including sprinting, stopping and being able to change directions quickly. This year's preseason conditioning phase included a unique element as the Thomas & Mack Center's steps served as a proving ground for physical fitness. Each player had to sprint the steps and complete it in eight seconds.



Kabo stated he is able to design the best program for the team through the close working relationship he shares with the coaching staff along with the emphasis placed on strength and conditioning by head coach Lon Kruger. Kruger added how important the program is to the team's success.

"Our strength and conditioning program is essential to the success of our team," said Kruger. "Our guys work hard in the off-season in order to prepare and get ready for the season. That hard work is just as important during the season to maintain and stay healthy."

As Kruger stated, Kabo's work continues into the season as the team is typically in the weight room two days per week to maintain the level of strength achieved during the early summer months.

When asked to describe a current Rebel who has made significant strides in the weight room, Kabo quickly mentioned freshman Carlos Lopez, who redshirted last season. He stated Lopez arrived on the UNLV campus last year at 198 pounds and the main goal was to put some weight on his frame. Kabo added that the 6-11 forward did a great job over the summer to shoot up to about 230 pounds as he was coming into the weight room five and six days a week during the summer.

Kruger also recognizes the work put in by Kabo and the improvements made by Lopez.

"Jason Kabo does a fantastic job with our guys and keeps them motivated all year long," said Kruger. "Carlos Lopez worked very hard during his redshirt year and now that is paying off for him. With the help of Jason, Carlos has increased his strength and health significantly from where his was one year ago."

One big change Kabo is looking forward to is the addition of the Mendenhall Center to UNLV's campus as its new practice facility. The Mendenhall Center will have a direct impact on the strength and conditioning program as this new facility will give the Rebels the opportunity to train in the same building practices are held. Kabo's touch will be felt in the Mendenhall Center as he served as the main point of contact for the floor design in the strength and conditioning area and he was able to select the ideal equipment for the area.

The hard work for a successful season may have begun behind closed gym doors under the watchful eye of Kabo, but the Runnin' Rebels will be available for all of Las Vegas to see as the season begins this week.

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