2016 Off-Season Training Highlights – Part 2

My hockey guys were hitting PR’s in the gym week in, week out during the off-season.

But it wasn’t just about lifting weights this summer.

As I’ve said many times before, pushing, pulling and squatting a heavy bar is NOT the only part of developing true athleticism.

So we sprinted, we jumped, we changed directions, we pushed the sled and carried heavy objects for distance.

Here’s a taste of what took place in our off-season program…

We had so many guys reach new levels of strength that it would take me ages to upload all their lifting videos to Youtube.

I’m a lazy bastard, so I won’t do that.

But I’ll end this post with a solid display of raw strength.

Here’s Matias Nisula of our U20 team trap bar deadlifting 235 kg for a big PR to cap off the off-season in style.

Props to all the guys for a solid effort throughout the summer. Things will only get better as we move on to in-season training starting next week.

I expect big PR’s all season long…


2016 Off-Season Training Highlights

It has been a great summer.

I had the chance to train ca. 100 hockey players, including college, Junior National Team, and U18 and U20 World Champions.

Even if I say so myself, the strength improvements we’ve witnessed have been excellent.

Here are our U18 and U20 hockey players hitting heavy singles on chin-ups during the last week of the off-season.

I’ll be posting some more vids in the next few days.

Stay tuned…


Elite Athletic Development Seminar 3.0 Review

A rare occurrence, I took last weekend off and even managed to hit the movies for the first time in 6+ months to catch Central Intelligence.

(Quick review: Dwayne Johnson is friggin’ jacked as always, Kevin Hart cracks funny jokes but overacts 50% of the time, plot was written by a third grader, few good laughs, 6/10 overall score).

So to kick off this week the right way, I decided to get my learn on by watching Elite Athletic Development Seminar 3.0, a new DVD set by Joe Kenn and Mike Robertson.

Elite Athletic Development 3.0For those of you not in the know, Joe Kenn serves as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

As for Mike Robertson, he runs IFAST – an Indianapolis-based training facility that has been voted one of America’s TOP 10 gyms by Men’s Health.

These days, there aren’t many speakers in the fitness industry that I look forward to hearing.

I’ve attended plenty of training seminars and watched enough DVD’s from some of the most recognized figures in fitness and strength and conditioning, and more often than not, I came away from the experience feeling disappointed.

Click to continue reading »


World Championship, MVP Honors & NHL Draft Pick

Time to break my summer writing slump with a quick shout-out.

This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Penguins – current Stanley Cup champs – picked Kasper Björkqvist of our Blues U20 team in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft!

For the past year that I’ve trained him off the ice, we’ve been focusing on filling out his frame and making him as strong and powerful as possible in the gym.

Winning gold with Team Finland at WJC 2016 and earning MVP honors in the Finnish U20 League last season are proof that his efforts are paying dividends.

The Pens’ director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton stated that “We think he’s a year or two away from being ready to turn pro. He’s physically very strong, he’s got great hockey sense, his overall skillset is very, very strong”.

As a strength coach, nothing makes me happier than having NHL scouts and decision-makers praise one of my athletes for his physical strength.

That’s not all, though.

Five weeks into our off-season training this summer, Kasper told me he’s already “feeling faster than last year”.

And the fact he has been hitting PR’s in training week after week tells me it’s only gonna go forward and upward from here.

To experience the off-ice training methods that get NHL hotshots giddy about their draft picks’ physical performance, go to:



Apparently I’m Too Cool For Old School. Who Knew?

Old school coaches were rolling their eyes and badmouthing my training methods when they saw our U17 team train off the ice last summer.

The reason?

We were doing a ton of short sprints and change of direction drills.

And of course, working on getting as strong as possible in the gym.

But that’s not how you create real hockey players, these coaches claimed.

The players need to jog more and build that aerobic base, they said…

Of course they never expressed these opinions straight to my face (but saw fit to inform their players how “I didn’t know what I was doing”, who in turn relayed this info to my guys, who told me about it).

So what happened?

Our U17 team came within a goal of winning the National Championship, losing the final 3-4 in overtime.

And without any bias, we were the better conditioned team with plenty of opportunities to score the game-winner in the 3rd period and in OT.

But a lucky bounce clinched the title for the opponents.

Such is hockey.

Anyways, to get back to our training…

Number of times we went for a jog all year?


But that’s not to say we didn’t work on “building an aerobic base”.

Quite to the contrary, we did quite a bit of aerobic training during summer.

Especially early off-season.

Things like:

– tempo runs

– high intensity continuous training (HICT)

– “chaos” intervals

And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing this off-season as well.

Who knows…

Maybe this year that final bounce will go our way.

And perhaps we’ll end up lifting the Cup.

But what I know for sure is we’ll keep on sprinting, lifting and doing change of direction drills even if my methods are too cool for “old school”.

To access 49 weeks of done-for-you strength training programs I use with my hockey players, put your sneakers and hoodie on, and sprint over here:



World Champions! (Again)

I called it.

10 days ago, I told you how Team Finland was gearing up for the U18 World Championships in Grand Forks, ND with one goal in mind…

Winning gold.

And last night they did, beating Sweden 6-1 in the final after a convincing performance.

A personal highlight was watching three of the players I trained this season – Kasper Kotkansalo, Emil Oksanen and Urho Vaakanainen – celebrating on the ice after the final.

All that hard work and the hours they put in on and off the ice obviously paid off.

With our U20 National Team clinching the WJC title just three months ago, I’m proud to say we have produced a new generation of WINNERS.

So join me in congratulating Head Coach Jussi Ahokas and the entire U18 National Team for the World Championship.

Well done, boys.

If you want to experience the “World Champion approved” workouts I use with my Junior National Team players, check out:



Bodyweight Exercises, Tennis Elbows and Training Frequency

Time for some mo’ hot Q&A action today…

QUESTION: Yunus, what are your favorite bodyweight exercises?

I’ll be traveling over the summer, so will rarely have access to a gym with weights. Looking for exercises to do on the road.

YUNUS: Ye good ole push-ups, chin-ups and dips work extremely well for that.

Buy a pair of gymnastic rings plus a weight vest to make things challenging if bodyweight is too easy.

Best training investment you’ll ever make.

Next Q…

QUESTION: Hello coach….

Can u give me some list good exercises and mobility for tennis elbow?


YUNUS: This is outside my area of expertise. I’d recommend working with a qualified physical therapist for best results.

Last one…

QUESTION: I’m ready to hit it hard off the ice this summer. Thanks to your training tips I know what to do.

My question: how often should I lift in the off-season?

YUNUS: Anywhere from 2 to 4 heavy training sessions per week depending on your age, training age, strength levels, time available and a host of other factors.

I cover all those factors (and many more training topics) in my Next Level Hockey Training System.

More info at:


© Copyright 2010-2016 Next Level Athletics. All rights reserved. Created by Valentin Spitsyn. Proudly powered by WordPress.