Talking Training & Nutrition with Strength Coach Dave Orton


Dave Orton is an Ontario-based trainer who works with a wide variety of athletes, including professionals in hockey, lacrosse, and football. He is very passionate and knowledgeable about athletic performance, strength training, and nutrition and diet planning and execution.

Read on for more from a very interesting interview.

Orton and I also talked in great detail about Canucks winger Zack Kassian (which you can read here).

Angus: I see that you have been training Luke Willson, the Seahawks tight end. What was that like? 

Really good. He’s a hard working kid. We’re happy with the results. We just sent him back to camp, and they noticed that we had sent him back a little bit bigger than he had been before, and actually a bit faster, too.

Whenever you can get bigger and faster with training, that has to be considered a success.

That’s the first thing that the Seahawks tight ends coach said – “How did you come back even bigger?”

It looks like he’s quite the athlete too from some of the numbers he has put up.

Yeah. His median time on the 40 for a while was a 4.5. He got clocked down here in Windsor at 4.44.

That’s ridiculous. And he’s what – like 230 or 240 or something?

250. It’s really something to see a guy that big move that fast.

Would you go about training him similar to your hockey players?

With training, it isn’t so much different for the sport, but for the individual. With him, our primary focus was getting rid of some of the physical problems he had. He had a hip issue, some assymitries that were slowing him down a bit

So get the base foundation sorted out before to get everything in the right direction.

Yeah, just unlocking a couple of doors that were locked and allowing his body to use all of that strength that it naturally has.

It’s funny because people say – “You worked magic with him, you took time off his 40.” He hit his best hang clean he’s ever hit, which rarely happens at the NFL level, that is usually done in college. But I tell people I didn’t do anything magical, my strength and conditioning science isn’t better than any one else’s. How to go about getting someone stronger hasn’t really changed much year to year, as the human body hasn’t really evolved much year to year.

We just got some of the roadblocks out of the way for him.

Getting that extra range of motion can go a long way, especially for elite athletes.

(Here’s a closer look at some of Willson’s training.)

Definitely. We had him doing a lot of corrective strategy stuff, and mind you we also had him do stuff that his body had never done before. Typically with a guy coming out of college, he hasn’t seen rep schemes higher than 10, he probably hasn’t done a lot of single leg stuff.

That’s right where we went after. I took him as high as 20 reps on some of his squat packages. His body responded right away. We also increased his calories per day by about 2000. I told him – start eating. Just add more. And getting his reps up higher to see if we could get a bit of a metabolic response.

And that response is going to help the muscle tissue repair, it is going to help him to feel better. In the month he was here we put a couple of solid pounds on him while taking off some body fat.

I have video of him cleaning about 335 – kind of sloppy, but he managed to hit it.

And it looks like he will have more of an opportunity now with the injuries to Seattle’s top two tight ends.

He’s getting a lot of reps in practice. He’s going to turn some heads this year. They have a really aggressive offense, it could be a really good place for him.






How involved are you with your clients in terms of nutrition?

It depends on the individual.

What would be the most detail you would get into with a pro athlete?

I have one guy where I am right down to macro nutrient timing with his food, and  how he eats it and when he eats it. He wants it as strict as possible. A breakdown of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

I have done some intermittent fasting with other clients.

I have done that for the last seven months and love it.

If it fits your lifestyle, its awesome.

My client who follows intermittent fasting trains at 11am. He has his first meal at 1pm, so it works perfectly for him.

I haven’t noticed any loss of strength gains since we have started him on IF. I do notice it a bit if he is doing a heavy energy system development day he tends to lose steam a bit near the end.

With the strength work, the actual lift component is maybe 40-45 minutes maximum, so his system is fine until that point.

Most of the guys at this level know how they are supposed to eat. They aren’t perfect all the time, but we monitor it.

And it probably helps when they have dialed-in training partners.

When you have a guy like Matt Martin floating around – the guy couldn’t put on body fat if you paid him to do it – guys push themselves to be a little better when you have a statue like that walking around.

Thanks for the interview, Dave.

Other Strength Coach Interviews: