For this month's update, our good friend and true hockey aficionado, Ryan Foster, has submitted an excellent 3-part article delving into the theory and practice of hockey training. Ryan is an accomplished hockey player and coach as well as a great strength coach in his own right.
This month's article will focus on how to develop a periodized hockey program. It also addresses the first phase of this program, the hypertrophy phase.
Ever walk into a room and feel a little over-awed by what you see? I'm sure it has happened to all of us at least once or twice in our lives. How about the first time you walked into a gym as a 17-year-old kid after reading Flex magazine's 56th edition of 'top 10 ways to gain mass,' then low and behold, you saw some monster squatting five wheels a side for an easy ten reps.
Or how about having to walk through the Radisson Hotel in Columbus Ohio, and nearly having to become one with the hallway wall so that Bill Kazmeir can make his way through? Oh yeah, Bill Kazmeir provokes awe.
One of my major bouts of awe occurred in the fall of 1999 as I stood at the entrance of a hotel conference room and watched as 60 of the most intimidating figures I had ever seen walked by. Most were dressed in T-shirts, sandals and shorts. They were in possession of doorway wide shoulders and legs that resembled tree trunks.
The group chatted only minimally and had a look of seriousness and purpose in their faces that was not unlike a certain boxer named Balboa, whom one commentator stated 'the champ has a look tonight that could burn through lead.' I don't know about lead, but their looks were scary enough to melt ice.
Along with the eye of the tiger look came many 1-to-4 inch scars and more than the occasional disfigured nose. It looked as if some of these guys regularly vacationed in Bosnia or Iraq.
Well, it didn't look like the preliminary heats for the world's strongest man competition, as there were no 300-plus pounders here. And it certainly wasn't a professional bodybuilding competition; these guys were too tall and, let's face it, too ugly for that.
A military boot camp might fit the bill, but most of these guys looked more like rabble-rousers than keepers of the peace. With the sandals and shorts it could have been the set of Baywatch, but pretty boy actors don't have 4-inch scars on their chins.
So what was this event and who were all these guys?
It was, in fact, the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers and they were here in Peterborough Ontario for training camp. And what was I doing here? Trying to whip these boys into shape.
Throughout the next week this group of athletes took part in fitness testing that involved such things as bench presses for maximum reps, maximum number of wide grip chins and either a 23-mile bike ride or 6-mile run through the winding hills of the Kawarthas.
This was followed by two more weeks of vigorous on ice practices to prepare for the season. Then, the pre-season games began as a prelude to a grueling seven-month, 84 game regular season. Since these guys make the playoffs, there are a few extra weeks tacked on for good measure.
This crew (and similar other crews like them) and the demands of their sport are indeed impressive. Most of these guys stand at 6 feet in height and 200 pounds with a body fat percentage somewhere between 6 and 12%. Now that doesn't sound too astronomical, but let's take into account that these guys are extremely skill based, functionally strong, anaerobically and aerobically fit, not to mention tough.
You know, the kind of tough that enables them to jersey that stingy neighbor Al, who still hasn't returned your chainsaw, and feed him upper cuts until he drops like a sack of potatoes while simultaneously flipping a sirloin steak and swilling a Molson.
Some of the best and more notable players at the camp were pure and freaky physical specimens, to say the least. Take for instance guys such as John Leclair, 6-foot-3, 226 pounds, Michael