There’s little Paul Hartley and new fitness coach Tam Ritchie won’t be willing to try if they think it will improve performances and results at Dundee.
But the best part of two decades working in professional football has taught Ritchie that some basic rules must be followed to give the work he does the best chance of bringing success.
In short, if the players hate it, however beneficial any exercise could be, he won’t be forcing them to do it.
The former Scottish international 800m runner quickly moved from Alloa to the Dark Blues when Hartley was appointed manager early this month.
They’d just spent a couple of highly-successful years together at Recreation Park, winning back-to-back promotions.
And their association goes back to the manager’s days at Hearts, while Ritchie’s involvement in the game as a whole stretches to the mid-1990s when he joined up with Craig Levein at Cowdenbeath.
While a highly-qualified coach, a lot of what he’s done during that time has been to adapt the practices picked up in athletics and hone them for football.
“I was an athlete and I was fortunate enough to have a decent career.
“I was Scottish Junior champion and I represented Scotland at schools, junior and senior level in the 800m for a number of years.
“I turned professional and was quite successful there. Strangely, I didn’t have an appetite for coaching athletics.
“I was a season ticket holder at Hearts, so it was the obvious decision for me to try to get into the fitness side in football.
“When I did initially, I naively thought footballers could do athletic training. I was kind of right and kind of wrong.
“What I’ve done down the years is adapt the movements on a football field to the training values of athletes.
“For example, instead of getting footballers to run for 36 seconds like I would athletes, I get them to run six times for six seconds, with six seconds recovery between each run. It’s more intermittent which is specific to football and it’s called high-intensity intermittent training.
“That’s the core of most of the work I do, then on the periphery we add other things.
“We also increase their aerobic capacity. We do that on a Monday because it’s two days after an intense game of football.
“Then on the Tuesday we do the high-intensity intermittent training.”
His work’s involved a number of changes to the weekly training routine, with the two most visible being what’s now involved in pre-match and half-time routines.
They include using special harnesses and a workout at the side of the pitch before the second half.
“What the harnesses do is get the gluteal muscles working and it fires off the hamstrings.
“And the reason we do the half-time routine is because when you stop training intensely, the blood pools at the bottom of your legs.
“If you don’t get the circulation moving again, the second half starts and you’re running about with these puddles of blood at the bottom of your legs.
“By stimulating the blood circulation it reverses that and reduces lactic acid.
“Hopefully, we’ll start second halves a wee bit quicker than the opposition and, certainly at Alloa, it paid dividends because we scored quick goals.”
That work could be taken further but use of exercise bikes in the dugout like some English Premier League clubs have tried has been ruled out, despite them having some benefit.
“My personal opinion is the players don’t like them.
“You’ve got to keep them happy and there’s a balance between forcing them to do things and keeping their psychological state at its optimum.
“If you’re asking them to be on a bike at the side of the pitch and the fans can see them doing that, they might feel awkward or get laughed at.”
That common-sense approach is very much a golden rule of Ritchie and his boss.
A more flamboyant character would probably describe himself as a sports scientist but before getting to interviewing, the manager warns it’s a term he despises.
And however meticulous and open to new ideas he is, Ritchie stresses what he does is not rocket science, just good working practice.
“For all, fitness is portrayed as being scientific these days put simply the harder you work, the fitter you get.
“And the fitter you get, the more successful you can be. For me, there is nothing too complicated about it.
“So long as you match that with what the players are comfortable with, you can get results.”