What happens in the weight room, stays in the weight room.
That explains why sophomore left guard Travis Frederick would have been happy if University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema didn’t tell the world that Frederick squatted 730 pounds in the spring.
Frederick, who carries 330 pounds on his 6‑foot‑4 frame, is proud of the staggering accomplishment. In the weight room, players are driven by numbers, always trying to set personal marks or reach new goals. Even a new best by five pounds can set off a wild celebration.
But the linemen prefer to keep that world to themselves.
Former UW left tackle Gabe Carimi slipped up last year when he told a reporter the linemen were “offering sacrifices to the squat gods” during lifts. But further inquiries only drew only blank stares from other linemen.
Assistant strength coach Brian Bott, who works with the linemen and tight ends, knows the importance of goals and motivation in the weight room. But Bott doesn’t want lifting numbers attached to players, like targets, which could serve as motivation for opposing players.
“Any time you start throwing numbers out where people can see it, then you’ve got other people (opponents) who start measuring themselves against that,” Bott said. “You never want to give another guy an advantage.”
For similar reasons, details of what goes on in the weight room during the linemen’s lifting are sketchy.
Ben Herbert, the head strength coach, encourages players to put their personalities on display in the bowels of the McClain Center, where the weight room is located.
“When they come in to train, to me, it’s always like an event,” Bott said. “There’s always a lot of excitement.
“We let them show their personalities. So, if a guy hits a big set, he may run around or throw something. We try and foster that because we want them excited about it. We want them pushing themselves.”
Frederick, a former Walworth Big Foot athlete, got his serious introduction to the weight room in eighth grade. It came from a brother, Tyler, who is three years older and was a quarterback at the school at the time.
Travis had a bigger body and learned he could lift as much as his brother.
“Instead of being discouraged by that, he embraced it and helped me and pushed me,” Travis said. “He showed me a lot of the great work ethic I use here.”
The boys also worked for their dad, Darrell, who runs a construction company, with Travis being asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Even the other offensive linemen are amazed at the things Frederick can do in the weight room.
“He is by far the strongest, most bear-like human being I’ve ever seen, or had the pleasure of being around,” senior right guard Kevin Zeitler said.
For some perspective, the combined weight of UW’s starting linebackers is 715 pounds. So it’s like Frederick strapped those three to his back and did a deep-knee bend.
“He’s sick,” sophomore guard-center Ryan Groy said. “I don’t even want to watch him when he does that kind of weight. That’s not human.”
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad emphasizes squat totals in recruiting, since leg and core strength are integral to playing the position.
The linemen also credit Bott for keeping things fresh and interesting. He has a lot of connections, including one on the Chinese national weightlifting team.
“He’s got contacts everywhere and we always have new techniques,” Frederick said. “It keeps it fresh.”
Former fullback Chris Pressley holds the team’s squat record at 770 pounds, although he didn’t lift that exact weight. He got credit for it by doing multiple repetitions at a lighter weight. But Frederick did squat precisely 730 pounds, hitting the mark on one lift.
“There are different ways to test,” Bott said. “I’ll just say the way (Frederick) squats is very impressive.”
Frederick knows the number doesn’t mean squat if it doesn’t translate into performance on the field. As a projected starter and replacement for All-American John Moffitt, Frederick spent the summer working on a more explosive first step and getting quicker overall.
“You can be in the weight room and squat a ton,” he said. “But if you can’t translate (that) on the field, it’s all for naught.”