Raimond Braithwaite making mark on Iowa football strength and conditioning

The Hawkeyes’ director of strength and conditioning has added some wrinkles to Iowa’s training regimen since he assumed his role in March 2021.


Joseph Cress

Iowa strength coach Raimond Braithwaite instructs offensive linemen during a spring practice at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Freshman defensive back Xavier Nwankpa was listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds on the roster Iowa football released on March 22. Before the Hawkeyes’ April 23 spring game at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa strength and conditioning coach Raimond Braithwaite said Nwankpa was up to 211 pounds.

While Nwankpa was a five-star high school recruit, the accelerated growth he underwent between the release of the Hawkeyes’ first 2022 depth chart and Iowa’s spring game isn’t unusual for freshmen.

“It’s very common for freshmen, when they get into our program and have access to the nutrition and training that we provide for them, to have huge jumps early on,” Braithwaite told reporters at an April 13 press conference.

Braithwaite has been helping Iowa’s football players get stronger and faster for the last 18 years. He was named director of strength and conditioning in March 2021.

Braithwaite became the Hawkeyes’ interim director of strength and conditioning in June 2020, when Iowa parted ways with Chris Doyle. The University of Iowa paid Doyle — who was the Hawkeyes’ strength and conditioning coach for 22 years and at the heart of alleged racial disparities within the Iowa football program — $1.1 million as part of a separation agreement.

Since he took over for Doyle, Braithwaite has made some tweaks to the Hawkeyes’ strength and conditioning regimen.

“There’s similarities and there’s differences,” Braithwaite said. “I mean, the nuts and bolts don’t change. But every year we have to stay relevant, and we’re always evolving and researching and making sure we’re on the cutting edge in terms of what’s out there in strength and conditioning.

“I think I’m a different human being,” Braithwaite added. “My personality is different. I’m a different guy. The staff is different. The staff changes and evolves. With that, comes changes in the way we do things and how we interact with the team.”

One of the biggest points Braithwaite said he has emphasized over the last two years is athlete mental health, noting that working the mind is an important part of strength and conditioning.

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“I think that goes back to individual meetings with guys,” Braithwaite said. “You have to establish a rapport when kids get on campus initially, just to let them know that there’s an open-door policy and that you care about them outside of the sport of football. I think it’s big for their own mental health, so they don’t just think they’re just a commodity that comes in, works out, then leaves.”

Braithwaite has made his share of changes over the last two years. But the 44-year-old doesn’t switch things up without proper consideration.

“The challenge is not changing for the sake of change,” Braithwaite said. “… Some of the basics still work. We have to become, like we say here, brilliant at the basics. They have to be really good at the basics before we want to decide to change things.

“We always want to say we want to have consistent variability in the way we design things,” Braithwaite added. “It has to be consistent in philosophy and why we do what we do. But there has to be some changes, some tweaks.”