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University of Northern Iowa - Strength & Conditioning Department

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

University Strength and Conditioning Departments in Focus

The S&C departments within universities provide excellent examples of evidence-based practice, applying scientific principles of S&C to their unique and challenging performance environments.

Through these articles, we will be taking a detailed look at what our partners at different institutions do, sharing good practice and providing a platform for collaboration and improvement.

If you run a university based S&C department, anywhere in the world, please get in touch to share your story.


University of Northern Iowa

In this article we'll be looking in to the Strength & Conditioning Department at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The UNI Panthers are the athletics teams that officially represent the University of Northern Iowa in college sports. UNI is part of the NCAA's Division 1, and field 17 varsity level sports teams (10 female, 7 male), most of which compete in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). However, the UNI Panthers do compete outside of the MVC for two sports, with their football team competing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and wrestling competing in the Big 12 Conference.

Strength & Conditioning Department Mission Statement

"Building the Strongest Programs in the Nation"

The University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Strength and Conditioning is designed to utilize resources in both the College of Education and the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Department in a partnership to provide the highest quality Strength and Conditioning services to University of Northern Iowa Student Athletes as well as a unique and desirable field experience for our Strength and Conditioning Professional Students, both experiences are to be second to no Mid-Major University. The Institute of Strength and Conditioning’s pooled resources create the premier experience in the following ways:

  1. The University of Northern Iowa Strength & Conditioning Department staff members are not only Division I strength coaches, but are also instructors in UNI’s Physical Education Department. Students not only learn in the classroom from UNI’s Strength and Conditioning Staff, but they work side by side in the laboratory, which is UNI’s nearly 20,000 square feet of strength and conditioning facilities.

  2. The partnership between academics and athletics allows the ability to provide more high level coaching for the athletes as numerous talented graduate students and competitive interns join the full-time staff to aid in the advancement of our Division I athletes

  3. UNI has the capability to conduct research with athletic teams, creating an environment to partner with private sector

  4. Our developing professional students provide services to the community which can provide opportunities for private funding

Strength & Conditioning Department Vision

With the growing number of Strength and Conditioning careers in this ever evolving profession, it is our hope to create an all-encompassing experience for our future Strength and Conditioning specialists. There are many new trends that are surfacing and the Strength and Conditioning enthusiast needs to be well-informed in order to succeed in this highly competitive field. Through our internship coordinator, we have created opportunities in the following areas that we see valuable for a well-rounded experience:

  1. The General Physical Preparation Rotation (work with UNI strength and conditioning coaches in the assimilation and socialization of 1st year athletes into a Division I level of training and competition)

  2. The Community Youth Sport Rotation (work with volunteers teaching sport culture and strength and conditioning concepts for at risk youth in our community sports training center)

  3. The High School and Middle School Strength and Conditioning Rotation (a rotation working with surrounding high school strength and conditioning coaches creating long term athletic develop programs to young athletes)

  4. The Collegiate Athlete Rotation (work with UNI Panther sports teams and their strength and conditioning coaches in the implementation of a macrocycle for an NCAA Division I team)

  5. The Strength and Conditioning Injury Rehabilitation Rotation (work with UNI a strength and conditioning coach specializing in post injury return to play training protocols assimilating athletes back into competitive status)

  6. Tactical Strength & Conditioning Rotation (work with the UNI Army ROTC strength and conditioning coaches in the implementation of tactical training protocols for future Army soldiers)


University of Iowa Facilities

The Power-Lift Strength & Conditioning Lab

A 10,000 square foot state of the art facility built in 2010. The room is equipped with 30 fully equipped multi-use free weight power-rack stations. Technology stations surround the room with multiple built in camera/computer/television stations for biomechanical analysis. The room also utilizes portable force plates as well as a 1080 Sprint motion analysis and resistance/overspeed training unit.

The UNI Mark Messersmith Track and Field Power Center

A 1,000 square foot standalone indoor/outdoor training facility designed to bring equipment outside utilizing Power-Lift Fly-Away Kits, designed for the US Navy SEALs in order to make efficient use of space and allow mobile training capabilities

The UNI Injured Athlete Strength and Conditioning Training Center

A 5,000 square foot training facility used to accommodate the needs of UNI’s injured athletes, expediting the return to play process

The UNI Wrestling Strength and Conditioning Center

An 800 square foot training center devoted entirely for the UNI Wrestling Team

The UNI Strength & Conditioning Graduate Student & Intern Resource Center

An 800 square foot room connected to the Power-Lift Strength & Conditioning Lab equipped with 8 cubicle work stations, lockers for students and interns, meeting space, a library of strength and conditioning resources, etc.

The UNI Army ROTC Strength and Conditioning Center

Currently under construction, UNI’s newest strength and conditioning facility will be a 5,000 square foot tactical strength training center utilized for the physical development of UNI’s Army ROTC cadets as well as the educational development of our strength and conditioning students


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