Last week, the Los Angeles Rams Director of Strength and Conditioning, Justin Lovett, was named Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by The National Strength and Conditioning Association. Lovett was brought onto the L.A. coaching staff in March 2020, to replace Ted Rath, who had left the Rams to take a position with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Lovett came to L.A. from the college ranks. He had been the Purdue Boilermakers Director of Football Strength and Conditioning since 2016. Before that, he was an assistant on the Georgia Bulldogs staff from 2012 through 2014 where he worked with former Rams running back Todd Gurley and stepped up the career ladder to Western Kentucky as Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach. As a Hilltopper, he worked with current Rams tight end Tyler Higbee from 2014 through 2016.
Reportedly, 50 strength coaches were clamoring for the Rams job. Lovett initially interviewed at the 2020 NFL Combine and was flown to L.A. early in March for a follow-up, which turned into a job offer.
“I had interest in the position,” Lovett told Tom Dienhart at GoldandBlack.com, “I am not sure how they found my name or got interest. It has been a month-long process, so it is kind of a blur now from the front-end, but it progressed pretty quickly... They cast a big net, they wanted the best fit for their organization, it’s cutting edge, it’s forward-thinking. People I trust have called it ‘space-aged.’ They aren’t afraid to try and fail with new things, and that appealed to me... It felt natural. If you can do similar things at a higher level, that gets your adrenaline running.”
Coming to L.A. may have been because of Lovett’s association with former Denver Broncos General Manager (2008-2012) Brian Xanders, who joined the Rams as a Senior Personnel and Coaching Executive in 2017. Xanders has long history with Rams General Manager Les Snead, going back to Atlanta Falcons in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Lovett’s only previous professional experience before joining the Rams was with the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2012. He began with Denver as an off season volunteer before getting hired as an intern. He was promoted to an assistant’s role in 2010.
Returning to the pro game has presented change for Lovett and he had to grow and be flexible in his new role. In college, players follow the workout regimen provided by the school staff, but many pro’s have a locked in program that they have decided is best for them. Lovett not only has to keep up with the evolving science of strength and conditioning protocols, he has to create challenging workouts that players can trust to maximize endurance, recovery, and play on the field. Lovett told Dayton Dailey News writer Marcus Hartman,
“Most of the elite players don’t just invest in cars and houses. They invest in body shop practitioners, speed coaches, nutritionists, chefs— all of these things. That’s where their money goes, so you have to be open and willing to working with those guys because ultimately, it night be me helping one of our players facilitate a program that their speed coach or strength coach is really adamant that they do to be successful. I have no problem with that because at the end of the day, if that player wins, I win...”
The stretch run to the playoffs could provide a microscope onto Lovett’s work and success. To this point, the Rams have played their starters at an alarmingly high rate, so as the season grinds through the final four games, their endurance and weekly recovery will be in the spotlight.