Yunus Barisik, Author at Next Level Athletics
Yunus Barisik

Author Archives: Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, specializes in making hockey players strong, fast and explosive. He has trained 500+ hockey players at the junior, college and pro levels, including NHL Draft picks and World Champions. An accomplished author, Yunus has had articles published on top fitness and performance sites, including T Nation, STACK and Muscle & Strength. He also wrote Next Level Hockey Training, a comprehensive resource for ice hockey players on building athletic strength, size and power, while staying injury-free.

Hockey Foods For Optimal Performance

Stanley Cup winner turned strength and conditioning coach Gary Roberts once said:

"You don't stay strong, stay fit, recover, stay healthy without eating properly.

The players who learn that at a younger age, have a better opportunity to be healthier and become a better athlete."

As inconceivable as it may sound, in 2022, there are still tons of hockey players (even in the NHL) who eat garbage.

With nutritionists and strength coaches at their beck and call 24/7/365, there's no excuse for an athlete to show up at camp rocking a skinny-fat dad bod – complete with the droopy pecs and squishy love handles. 

Yet, it's the sad reality.

So, in this article, I'll shine a light on which hockey foods you should eat and which to avoid if you want to build a lean, muscular body.

But first, let's start by answering two common nutrition questions...

How Many Calories Should A Hockey Player Eat?

Impossible to answer without knowing your age, body composition goal (gain muscle or lose fat), and how much physical activity you do.

Many of the undersized athletes I work with must cram down 4,000 calories per day to gain mass in the off-season. Some go beyond 5,000 calories.

But these are young athletes in their late teens or early-20s who train twice a day (gym + ice) to rev up their already lightning-fast metabolism.

Eating so much food as a men's rec league player with a 9-5 office job will only make you fat.

Unless you're restricting calories to shed body fat, a normal-sized adult hobby player will maintain their weight at around 2,500 calories.

If fat loss is your goal, this video shows you how to succeed:

What Should Hockey Players Avoid Eating?

There's a HUGE misconception that you need to pound down a ton of sugary carbs to fuel hockey performance.

I know pro players who chow cereal and bread for breakfast, eat chicken pasta for lunch and dinner, snack on muesli bars, and enjoy candy, chocolate, pastries on their cheat day.

No surprise, these guys are all fat or skinny-fat.

You have to earn your starches.

The leaner you are, and the more genetically predisposed you are to handling carbs, the more starches you can eat.

Except for small amounts of rice/couscous/yams/potatoes strategically placed in your pre- and post-game meal, skinny-fat dudes at 15% body fat have got NO business munching on cereal, bread, or sweets.

Which brings us to...

How To Whip Up A Healthy Hockey Breakfast

Based on the hundreds of diet consultation I've done with athletes over the years, a typical hockey breakfast includes:

1) Cereal or muesli with milk

2) Bread with cheese, ham, three slices of cucumber and tomato, orange juice

What's the problem – isn't that a healthy breakfast?

Hell nah!

It's the opposite of a nutritious meal:

Low in protein and healthy fat, but high in refined sugar.

So how do you turn this clusterfuck of a breakfast into a wholesome morning meal?

By building it around quality protein and fat sources while getting your carbs from vegetables, fruits, or berries. 

Eating processed carbs early in the day kills your productivity.

They cause the dreaded mid-morning "crash" – that tired feeling where you want to lie down and nap, but you have a meeting to attend, a report to finish. 

Unless you have an early game, avoid starchy carbs in the morning.

For specific healthy breakfast ideas, check out this video:

What Should A Hockey Player Eat For Lunch?

Same as at breakfast, stick to nutritious hockey foods and avoid all the processed, refined, unnatural junk.

Start by picking a quality protein source first. This can include:  

* Beef

* Chicken

* Lamb

* Turkey 

* Fish

* Eggs

Next, whip up a big salad – tomatoes, spinach, kale, olives, and other vegetables you dig.

Now your plate contains everything you need for a healthy lunch that carries you into the afternoon.

In a mass gaining phase, throw in some jasmine rice or couscous to go together with the beef/chicken/fish (or whatever protein source you choose).

If that alone doesn't curb your hunger, add a bowl of Greek yoghurt with fruits and/or nuts to your main meal for extra calories.

3 Excellent Hockey Food Ideas For Dinner

Since dinner often follows hockey practice or a gym workout, this is the right time to eat the majority of your starches for the day – if you are lean enough to handle them – to fill up your body's glycogen stores.

Great options include:

1) Steak with jasmine rice and salad

2) Chicken breast with potatoes and salad

3) Omelette with couscous and salad

I'm sure you can recognize the pattern:

Protein + vegetables with some fats and carbs.

For a low-carb meal during a fat loss phase, remove the starches. Stick to proteins, fats, and vegetables.

Game Day Food

Athletes often ask:

"What hockey foods should I eat on game day?"

Aside from minor tweaks (starchy carbs before/after game, extra smoothies/snacks to bump up your calorie intake for the day, drinking more water), you'll stick to the same meals as on practice or off days.

This video walks you through a full meal plan for maximal game day performance: 

What Is The Best Food To Eat Before A Hockey Game?

We have all heard of Sidney Crosby's pre-game PBJ sandwich he wolfs down two hours before puck drop. 

It gives him enough energy to perform at a high level over the next three periods.

Does this mean slathering two slices of bread with peanut butter and strawberry jam gives you the best odds of scoring a hat-trick when you lace up tonight?

Not necessarily.

Any meal that contains a decent amount of protein and carbs, and doesn't make you feel "heavy" will work.

A light sandwich, smoothie, Skyr and banana... all good picks for your pre-game meal.

Conclusion

While everyone thinks you build muscle and lose fat in the gym, the kitchen is where you truly sculpt an athletic physique that looks and performs the part.

The sooner you get a handle on proper sports nutrition – including which hockey foods to build your diet around, and which harmful ingredients to cut out for good – the faster your gains will come in the gym.

To transform into the strongest and fastest hockey player you can be, follow the workouts at:

NextLevelHockeyTraining.com

Yunus Barisik

13 Best Hockey Exercises For Strength & Speed

Browsing online last night, I came across an article titled "Top 10 Lower Body Exercises For Hockey Players".

Aside from trap bar deadlifts, split squats, lunges, and hip thrusts, the author – who shall remain unnamed to protect the guilty – listed these movements as his favorites for getting athletes strong:

* Goblet squats

* Cossack squats

* Box step-offs

You could argue how goblet squats groove your squatting mechanics, how Cossack squats improve mobility, and how box step-offs target the vastus medialis (an underdeveloped quad muscle in most hockey players).

And you'd be right. 

But to list them as the "best" hockey exercises for strength??

Nobody in the history of training has gotten STRONG from goblet squats or step-offs!

Because that's the whole point of lifting weights – to get jacked!!

It's obvious the author of said "article" doesn't know how to get hockey players STRONG, nor has he ever done so based on the simple fact I couldn't find any evidence of an athlete lifting impressive weights on his program. 

Why in the world would anyone take training advice from a self-professed hockey training goo-roo who can't produce results?

Let me make one thing clear:

THIS isn't one of those rubbish fluff pieces written by some Monday morning quarterback who can't back up his claims with proof.

Everything I'm about to tell you over the next few minutes has been tested and proven to work with hundreds of elite junior, D1 college, and pro athletes.

Here's one of my hockey pros in the Finnish Elite League, Nikolas Matinpalo, deadlifting 225 kg / 495 pounds with ease.

Now that I've got your attention, let's cover the 13 best hockey exercises you should do.

We can divide them into two categories:

1) Exercises that make you bigger and stronger

2) Exercises that maximize your speed and power output

We'll start with movements that transform you from a skinny weakling to a lean, muscular stud athlete.

7 Best Hockey Exercises For Strength

For young, physically underdeveloped athletes, NOTHING you do off the ice beats gaining strength and lean muscle mass.

Forget all the wobble boards, resistance band drills, agility ladder workouts, and other bullshyt peddled by social media fitness goo-roos.

Getting JACKED is the real game changer!

Stronger body = more speed, more power, more stability.

You only need a handful of hockey exercises to get the job done in the gym.

Squat

On a list of fundamental hockey exercises, the barbell back squat earns its place right at the top.

It should be a staple in every athlete's routine when the goal is to build strong legs and explosive first steps.

Guys who complain about shoulder or lower back issues squatting with a straight bar should switch to a safety bar.

Thanks to the position of the handles in front of you, there's zero stress on the shoulders.

The center of mass of the weight is also lower, so you maintain a more upright, back-friendly position.

Whether you squat with an Olympic barbell or a safety bar, the important thing is you get stronger.

A calf-to-hamstring back squat of around 1.8x body weight indicates you're close to reaching your speed potential from heavy lifting.

Read more about strength standards for hockey players in Chapter 9 in my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey.

Deadlift

Whereas almost every hockey player uses some variation of squats (back, front, box, safety bar) in his program, deadlifts are often nowhere to be found.

Reason?

Poor technique, fear of back injury, or just plain laziness.

Deadlifts are hard work. Even harder than squats. So tons of athletes shy away from them.

I talk about the importance of deadlifting for hockey performance in this video:

Unless you strengthen the backside of your body (hamstrings, glutes, and lower back) with the same volume and intensity normally reserved for the quads, you can forget about becoming the fastest version of yourself.

Trap bar, sumo, and snatch-grip deadlifts are my top three picks for building a STRONG posterior chain.

A solid goal to shoot for on the first two variations?

3x body weight.

Hit that, and there's no way you will have weak anything in your lower body. 

Weighted Chin-Up

If I had to pick a single upper body exercise to get strong on, it would be the weighted chin-up.

You could build a ripped back from this one movement alone.

Tons of hockey players do nothing but bodyweight reps.

Stop wasting your time!

Grab a belt, add some plates, and pull your chin over the bar.

50 kg / 110 pounds is a decent result many pro guys (and even men's rec league players!) hit on my program.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Can you imagine training any male athlete for strength and size without the barbell bench press?

Hard to picture since guys spend more time chasing 225, 315, 405 on the bench press than in any other lift.

But here's the truth few strength coaches will tell you:

You can build plenty of muscle mass and strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps with the dumbbells alone.

Since they don't force you into a fixed position against the bench, thus letting you use the most comfortable elbow angle for your body, dumbbells are also safer.

Piling on the plates as you pursue a big bench press can aggravate the shoulders, elbows, or wrists.

Dumbbells don't beat you up anywhere near as much.

Powerlifters have to take that risk if they want to succeed in their sport.

Hockey players don't.

From a health and longevity perspective, dumbbell bench presses beat barbell bench presses – to quote legendary Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play man Mike Lange – "like a rented mule!"

Besides, once you can bench a pair of 100-pounders for 10 reps, I guarantee you won't have a small chest anymore.

Getting up there should keep you busy for a while.

Chest Supported Row

Bent-over barbell and dumbbell rows are great exercises for sculpting a jacked back.

One small problem, though...

Many athletes focus only on moving the biggest loads possible through space, feeling NOTHING in their upper back or lats during rows.

Guys channeling their inner Tiger Woods here think their cheating ways won't catch up to them.

All that heave-hoeing the weights up and down will only serve to grow your ego, nothing else.

That's where chest supported rows come in.

Since your legs are out of play, cheating just got a lot harder.

It's like putting a chastity belt on. You maintain the purity and sanctity of the girl you want to get jiggy with rowing.

This forces you to use a lighter resistance. Which is actually a good thing.

Now you can focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together and feeling the movement in your upper back – THAT's what builds muscle.

Hatfield Split Squat

Super heavy single-leg squats used to give me headaches for a long time.

On one hand, my program produced leg gains I have never seen replicated anywhere else in junior hockey.

My best 17-year-olds could breeze through split squats with 300+ pounds on the bar – something you won't often see even in the NHL.

The problem?

Once you're closing in on double bodyweight loads, balance (not strength!) becomes the limiting factor. 

When you're holding that much weight on your back or in a rack position in a single-leg stance, one slight misstep could lead to catastrophic damage.

So I never really pushed my strongest athletes to their absolute max. I'd rather use 30 pounds less than risk an avoidable adductor strain or back injury.

Then, in 2019, stars aligned: 

I discovered the Hatfield split squat.

Using a safety bar, you hold on to a pair of safeties or power rack uprights for stability. 

This lets you lift brutally heavy weights, safely, because you no longer have to worry about losing your balance.

If you want to take the movement a notch further, elevate your back leg. Enjoy the quad pain from Bulgarian Hatfield split squats!

Click HERE for a full off-ice program guaranteed to pack on more strength and muscle than you ever thought possible.

Best Hockey Exercises For Speed

For weaker, lower level athletes strength training IS speed training. 

Just by pushing up your maxes, you will get faster. 

That said, keep in mind:

The stronger you become, the less your speed and power will benefit from gaining extra strength in the gym.

Past a certain point, adding more weight on the bar ceases to produce a faster, more explosive you.

But – and it's a big but – most guys never reach that point.

For more details on how much strength hockey players should gain to maximize their speed and power, check out Strength Training For Ice Hockey.

Stronger, more experienced athletes must shift their focus from gym PRs to using the strength they already have more efficiently to gain more speed.

That's where these six hockey exercises come in.

Sprint

Hockey players should sprint mostly in the 5-30 meter range.

This range matches the acceleration and top speed skating distances a hockey player covers on the ice in the majority of game situations.

Aside from a typical two- or three-point stance, throw in other starting positions once in a while. Such as:

* Push-up

* Half-kneeling facing forward

* Half-kneeling facing sideways

* Lying on your back and rolling over to your stomach before getting up into a sprint

You can also combine hurdle jumps with sprints. 

These variations add an element of randomness to an otherwise predictable activity (running in a straight line over a specific distance).

You won't always be facing straight ahead when you're called on to turn the jets on and blast past your man in a game situation.

Sled Sprint

Don't go overboard with the resistance.

Keep it light. Too much weight will slow you down, turning this from a sprint into a drag.

While heavy sled drags also have value in speed development (which I have written about elsewhere), we want fast sprints here.

Filip Lindberg and Kasper Kotkansalo, two of my NHL draft picks, are using a 20 kg (45 lb) plate in this video:

Power Clean From Hang

Many trainers hesitate to use hang power cleans with hockey players because "it's too technical".

Get outta here with that crap!

This is nothing but a lame excuse that reflects a trainer's inability to coach athletes to perform the movement the right way, rather than an athlete's inability to perform it.

I've taught newbies to hang power clean with good technique in one session.

All my most explosive athletes have high power cleans relative to their body weight.

1.25x body weight is a decent result. 

1.5x body weight hurls you to the top of the pack on any professional team.

This is NHL forward Kasper Björkqvist cleaning 130 kg / 286 pounds for a smooth triple as a college junior.

Power Snatch From Hang

From a performance standpoint, power cleans and power snatches are interchangeable.

As long as your numbers go up using good technique, you will enjoy similar gains in power.

Watch the part about hang power snatches starting at 4:08 in this video: 

Many hockey players have immobile wrists, so they struggle with catching the bar with high elbows in the clean.

I don't let these athletes clean. They are better off snatching to avoid excessive wrist strain, which could lead to an injury.

The downside is, many hockey players also lack shoulder mobility. So violently throwing a bar overhead can cause more problems than it solves.

Whether a hockey player performs Olympic lift variations as a regular part of his program or not, lifting weights alone won't maximize your speed.

For that, you must also jump.

Lateral Bound

If there's one off-ice exercise that comes naturally to hockey athletes, it's the lateral bound.

Compared to soccer, football, or baseball players, hockey players look downright graceful (that's a first!) leaping sideways off one leg and landing on the other.

The lateral bound mimics the skating action and there's tremendous carryover between the two.

The more ground you can cover here, the more power you'll have behind your push-off on the ice.

Depth Jump

Popularized by Soviet sports scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky, depth jumps are the best kept secret powerful athletes use to get even more explosive.

To give you an idea, I can't remember seeing a single hockey training program (outside of mine) that included depth jumps in the last five years. 

They are that rare!

By stepping off a box, you overload the muscles and tendons in your lower body beyond regular vertical jumps where you take off from the ground.

Result?

After a training cycle of depth jumps you WILL jump higher.

A higher jump = higher power output.

No athlete can ever have too much power.

For a thorough explanation of depth jumps (and other effective plyometric exercises to add to your routine) watch this video:

Conclusion

One of my junior hockey players once said: 

"I have had a lot of coaches and seen many strength coaches train their pro or NHL guys and compared to Yunus' workouts it's a joke, it doesn’t make any sense.

All that fancy or “special” stuff you see other trainers pushing on the internet is bullshit. Yunus showed me that if you just do the basics well and get strong, then that's all you need."

I have built a reputation as a hockey strength coach who produces results through one thing, and one thing alone:

Ruthless execution of the basics to the highest standard possible.

Now you know the best hockey exercises that can turn any athlete from a dud to a stud when repeated with excellence over months and years.

Make it count.

Yunus Barisik

P.S. For a complete off-ice workout plan guaranteed to drive up your strength, size, and speed to heights you never knew existed, go to:

NextLevelHockeyTraining.com

5 Best Hockey Supplements Every Athlete Should Take

"What are the best hockey supplements I should take??"

It's ALWAYS the skinny weaklings who ask me this question.

All 17 years of age, these guys obsess over supplements.

Why?

Because they have ZERO knowledge of how to train and eat for strength or muscle mass.

They think the world is collectively hiding a magic potion behind its back, and if only they could get their hands on some of that magic, they would gain 20 pounds of muscle overnight while skating around their opponents like Connor McDavid.

I'm now going to share a fact that's going to rock your world.

Ready?

Some of the best hockey players on the planet don't take any supplements.

That's right.

No protein shakes. No mass gainers. No pre-workouts. Not even creatine.

How do I know this?

Because I work with many of those players.

Yet, my athletes are known for packing on strength and muscle, fast.

Here's New Jersey Devils forward Aarne Talvitie trap bar deadlifting 250 kg / 550 pounds at age 18.

The point?

You don't NEED supplements to make the kind of gym progress your teammates would kill for.

Anyone who tries to argue otherwise is either a fool or hell-bent on selling you something.

In either case, you shouldn't be taking advice from them. You can't trust anything they say.

To give you an example:

There's a guy who runs a popular hockey training blog.

Mind you, this is someone who has NEVER produced a single D1 college or professional hockey player...

Yet, he portrays himself as a hockey training goo-roo on the internet, writing articles and producing videos as if he were an expert.

In one article, he listed carbohydrate powder and beta-alanine as his top supplements for hockey players looking to elevate their performance in the gym.

Gimme a friggin' break! 

Progress with weights comes down to training, nutrition, sleep, and hard work.

Those make up 99% of your results. Supplements contribute maybe 1%, if even that.

So, unless you...

1) Follow a world-class strength program designed by a top strength coach

2) Sleep at least 9 hours every night

3) Follow a high-performance diet where calories and macros are optimized for your body type and training goals, and

4) Lift balls to the wall and set personal bests for YEARS...

"Performance-enhancing hockey supplements" like beta-alanine or carb powder won't even move the needle. 

When you rock a skinny-fat dad bod and can't do a single weighted chin-up with an extra 100 pounds hanging from your waist, you're just pissing your money away on that nonsense!

Here's a picture of me from a recent photoshoot:

Yunus_Ripped

Guess which supplements I used to build muscle and get ripped?

NONE.

1-2 months before the shoot, I hit lifetime bests in the deadlift and weighted dip.

Then, I put strength on the back burner while leaning down for the camera.

In case I didn't make myself clear the first time...

You don't NEED supplements to post major PRs and look great naked.

Health > Performance Supplements

Having said all that, there are a handful of hockey supplements I prescribe to all my clients.

These are vitamins and minerals the modern Western diet is lacking. 

By supplementing with them, you avoid deficiency, which can lead to a whole array of nasty diseases – from cancer to heart attack.

More than anything else, these are HEALTH supplements. 

Why do I tell athletes to take them?

Because you won't enjoy great sports performance when your health is in the sewer.

Now, before I reveal my top list of hockey supplements, let me shine a light on something you probably didn't know:

The dietary supplement industry is a $30+ billion (with a "B") behemoth filled with endless promises and outright lies whose only purpose is to separate you from your money.

I laugh at the bogus claims supplement manufacturers peddle -- "Gain 30 pounds of muscle in 3 months on Mutant Mass™!"

I don't know what's worse:

Companies that can lie to the public with impunity the as they rake in massive profits...

Or the naive idiots who fall for deceptive marketing, wasting $300 per month on overpriced junk masquerading as muscle building pills.

But what I do know is that the only thing growing from that is the bank account of dubious pill pushers.

My Top 5 Hockey Supplements

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let's talk about essential supplements.

These are the top five compounds I put all my clients on – hockey pros and gen pop members.

(If you prefer video over text, watch the clip below.)

#5: Creatine Monohydrate

Most people have heard of creatine. Many have used it. But few know what it really is and what it does.

Creatine is naturally produced in the human body.

Supplemental creatine helps your ability to perform strength and power based activities, and results in increased strength, power and muscle mass when used consistently.

When I talk about creatine, I'm referring to creatine monohydrate. It’s the most tried and true, affordable, and effective version out there. 

Other variants are either not as good or they cost more without giving any additional benefit. 

Recommended dosage: 5 grams per day.

Later in the FAQ section, I talk about the drawbacks of creatine.

#4: Zinc

Not a sexy supplement by any stretch of the imagination, zinc is an essential mineral for brain function and supporting the immune system.

It’s often taken to reduce the frequency of illness and to support optimal levels of testosterone.

Any athletic male who wants to build strength and size should pop some zinc.

Recommended dosage: 20-40 milligrams per day.

#3: Magnesium

Another essential dietary mineral, magnesium, plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body.

It’s vital for bone mineral density, insulin sensitivity, proper blood lipid levels, prevention of cardiovascular disease, to name a few.

If you’re deficient, like 85% of Americans, your health and athletic performance WILL suffer.

Pay strict attention to the type of magnesium you consume, they’re not all the same.

Most products on the market contain magnesium oxide – a cheap, inferior version that does more harm than good.

Your body doesn’t absorb magnesium oxide well, which causes bloating and diarrhea. 

Never take magnesium oxide. Make sure your magnesium contains high-quality ingredients such as magnesium taurate or glycinate. 

Recommended dosage: 200-400 milligrams per day.

#2: Fish Oil

Fish oil contains essential omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA which are highly beneficial to your health. They...

* Reduce symptoms of depression

* Reduce triglycerides

* Decrease blood pressure

* Improve brain function

While you can get all these same benefits from eating fish, how many of us really do so often enough?

The typical Western man eats fish maybe once or twice a month. 

That’s nowhere near enough, so you have to get those omega-3s elsewhere.

Recommended dosage: This depends entirely on how concentrated in EPA/DHA your fish oil is.

Typical daily doses include 15 ml, but highly concentrated solutions may require intakes of just 5 ml.

#1: Vitamin D

Vitamin D packs a host of health benefits – from bone health to better mood, increased brain function, and improved general well-being.

So you'd be an idiot not to take it.

Practically everyone who lives in a country where winters get dark and cold is going to be deficient in vitamin D (hello Finnish, Swedish, Canadian, Russian, and US hockey players!), so you have to take it in pill or liquid form.

Otherwise, you run the risk of getting ill or feeling seasonally depressed between October and March.

Recommended dosage: The official recommended daily allowance of 50 micrograms is pathetically low. You’re not going to see any difference from that.

Take at least 100 micrograms for vitamin D to be effective.

You can take up to 250 micrograms per day without any issues.

Also, make sure you're supplementing with vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is useless for humans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Creatine Help With Hockey?

Yes, creatine can help you build more strength and muscle, which helps you skate faster and protect the puck in board battles.

But here's the inconvenient, hushed-up truth: 

The effects of creatine are overblown.

Some people get so much creatine from a meat-heavy diet that external supplementation doesn't add anything to their lifts.

These are what you'd call creatine "non-responders". I'm one of them.

No matter how many times I've tried, I don't get any advantage from creatine. Whether I'm "on" or not, makes no difference in my gym performance. 

Even those who do experience a performance boost from it rarely benefit beyond an extra rep or two.

It's progress, I'll give you that.

But it's nothing to throw your cowboy hat in the air for, and certainly can't match the results an optimized diet and training plan produces.

Watch this video for more details:

What Vitamins Should A Hockey Player Take?

Vitamins are typically classified into two categories:

1) Water-soluble vitamins B and C

2) Fat-soluble A, D, E and K

Below is a short list of the foods containing each vitamin and the health benefits they provide.

* Vitamin A: Plays a critical role in maintaining healthy eyes and vision, neurological function, healthy skin and hormonal/reproductive health.

Where to get it: Liver, kale, carrot, spinach, sweet potato.

* Vitamin B: Bolsters metabolism, maintains healthy skin and muscle tone, enhances immune and nervous system functions.

Where to get it: Liver, grass-fed beef, avocado, banana, beans.

* Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant, it works to improve everything from skin health to immune function and just about everything in between.

Where to get it: Kiwi, orange, strawberry, bell pepper, broccoli.

* Vitamin D3: Boosts bone strength, improves immune function and enhances mental health.

Where to get it: Sunlight, cod liver oil, wild-caught salmon, mackerel.

* Vitamin E: Prevents disease development, repairs damaged skin, thickens hair and balances hormones.

Where to get it: Almond, hazelnut, sunflower seeds, wheat germ.

* Vitamin K: Plays a role in everything from bone metabolism to blood sugar control.

Where to get it: Liver, kale, spinach, kiwi, cabbage.

For optimal health and sports performance, eat a nutritious diet based around meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. 

This gives you the best shot at hitting your vitamin intake targets.

Then supplement with the ones you can't get enough from real food.

Should I Drink A Protein Shake Before Hockey?

If you are getting enough protein from your diet, protein shakes won't do jack for you.

Their major benefit lies in speed and convenience. You can whip up a tasty, liquid meal in 30 seconds by mixing protein powder in water or milk.

But that's where the advantages stop. Protein drinks don't build any more muscle or torch any extra body fat.

The supplement industry has done a FANTASTIC job brainwashing people into thinking you need a constant stream of amino acids – and, unless you pound protein 24/7/365, you'll shrivel into Christian Bale in The Machinist.

It's rare for an athlete to have to resort to protein shakes when your diet is on point.

The only exception I can think of?

Young, undersized guys who must pound down 4,000+ calories a day to grow.

That's a metric ton of food and trying to ingest it all from solid meals turns into a battle that, even if you win, can leave you nauseous. 

Whipping up a protein smoothie is an easy way to chug down an extra 500-1,000 calories without throwing up.

For anyone else, I don't recommend going down that road.

At best, you'll get the same amount of protein as you would from a steak or chicken breast without the all-important nutrients real food includes.

At worst, the lactose and sugar alcohol (such as sorbitol or mannitol) many whey powders contain turn you into a lethal protein fart bomber – earning you the awkward, but nevertheless fitting nickname "Stinky".

This video walks you through the top five natural protein sources I recommend to build your diet around: 

Conclusion

It pisses me off to see teenagers and guys in their early-20s waste $ on bunk.

Then these duds complain how they are too broke to invest in a legit strength program that can change their physique, performance, and life.

With natural testosterone levels at their peak, you are primed to make the best gains of your life. 

Don't fall for "biceps in a bottle" marketing. 

Lift hard, sleep a ton, eat real food, and add the five hockey supplements listed above to your diet.

That's all you need to make sick gains.

Yunus Barisik

Hockey Leg Workout For Strength & Muscle

"When my legs are stronger, I feel better on the ice and can skate faster."

I hear this comment from the athletes I work with ALL the time.

Stronger legs = better hockey performance.

No matter your level of play – NHL, college, junior, beer league, or something in between – beefing up your quads, glutes, and hamstrings translates to more goals, more points, and more success:

You take three explosive strides and leave your man staring at your taillights as you slingshot away on a breakaway. Forehand, backhand, top shelf, red light.

You pin the other guy against the boards in your own zone, the puck squirts loose, and you take two quick steps to pick up the change for an odd-man rush.

You park your thick hockey butt in front of the goalie, sit deep, and nobody can push you around while you deflect a snapshot from the blue line into the back of the net.

As my pro client Zach Redmond (133 NHL games, 2022 DEL Defenseman of the Year) once pointed out:

"Legs are money!"

So today, we'll make the cash register ring.

You'll discover how to develop meaty thighs and a powerful posterior chain.

And, at the end of this article, I'll share a full NHL hockey leg workout that packs on the gains in a hurry.

Let's start with a question I get a lot...

How Often Should Hockey Players Train Legs?

Before I answer that, let's talk about what NOT to do:

Training legs only once per week.

This is a MASSIVE mistake many athletes make. It kills your gains for four reasons: 

1. Lifting like a bodybuilder by splitting the body in parts and training the chest, arms, legs, back, or whatever once a week makes ZERO sense for an athlete.

You skate, run, jump using your whole body. Your muscles work in unison, not in isolation, on the ice. 

So why are you isolating them in the gym?

2. Strength is a skill just like shooting pucks or playing the guitar is.

What skill can you master by doing it once every seven days?

To improve a skill, you must do it frequently in a FRESH state.

Leading us to point #3...

3. You cram too many exercises and too much volume into that one weekly hockey leg workout, which leaves you super sore in the quads, hamstrings, and glutes the next day (often for 2-3 days).

Now your performance in speed workouts (sprints/jumps) and in hockey practice plummets.

You'll be a more tired athlete. But not a BETTER athlete.

4. Research and anecdotal experience amassed over decades has made it clear:

Higher frequencies (up to a point) increase strength more than low frequency.

Bottom line?

For optimal strength gains and fast recovery, most athletes should train legs 2-3 times per week.

I have some of my hockey clients train the wheels up to 4x/week in the off-season and the results are excellent.

Watch this video for more details.

What Are The Best Exercises For Hockey Players?

The best off-ice exercises all have a few things in common:

1. They target several muscle groups at once.

Multi-joint movements beat isolation exercises when the goal is to build an ATHLETE, not a bodybuilder.

Think: Squat over leg extension, bench press over pec deck machine, chin-up over lat pulldown, and so on.

2. You can continuously overload them.

More weight on the bar = more strength and muscle.

3. You have a high degree of stability.

Instability is the ENEMY of strength and muscle gain.

So no stupid BOSU ball exercises where you can't use anything heavier than a pair of 30-pound dumbbells because most of your effort goes into balancing your body on a wobbly surface!

For these reasons, hockey athletes should build their training programs around basic barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight movements.

Such as...

Barbell: Squat, bench press, deadlift, clean, snatch.

Dumbbell: Bench press, overhead press, row, split squat, lunge.

Bodyweight: Weighted chin-up, dip, push-up.

But what if I could pick only a handful of movements to build a stronger and faster hockey player?

Check out the video below for my top 5 lower body exercises.

Hockey Leg Workout For Strength & Muscle

You should have a general idea of how to train for hockey by now.

Let's put some meat on the bones next with a sample strength workout, so you can see how the pros lift for real.

This workout is part of an off-season program I designed for Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Kasper Björkqvist when he was playing college hockey at Providence. 

I walk you through the full session in this video:

The workout takes place during the first week in Phase 2, which is our first heavy strength phase of the summer.

If you don't know what that means, read more about program design in my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey

Here's the workout with notes and technique cues:

1) Trap Bar Deadlift 3x5 240-300s.

This session begins with one of my all-time favorite strength exercises, the trap bar deadlift, for three sets of five reps.

Weaker athletes can get away with shorter rest periods of 3-4 minutes.

Once you're repping out 400+ pounds, that no longer flies. Each heavy set takes a toll on you, so cutting breaks short will cause your performance to drop, fast.

So take the full five minutes for full recovery.

2A) DB Reverse Lunge 3x6 75s.

After our main lift for the day, continue with a superset for the quads and hamstrings.

Grab a pair of dumbbells and perform six reverse lunges.

Rest 75 seconds and go to...

2B) Valslide Leg Curl 3x6 75s.

This one lights up the hamstrings big time.

Keep your ribs down and DO NOT let your lower back arch!

Just so you know...

Even many pro guys won't be able to do these off the bat with great technique. So take your time to perfect your form on two legs first.

Strong athletes can bang out regular reps all day long, so they'll progress to the single-leg version (and, eventually, to a resistance band for extra difficulty). 

If the jump from two legs to one is too much, you can do 2:1 reps where you lower with one leg and pull back up with two legs.

3A) Med Ball Adductor Squeeze 3x6 1-3-1-0 60s.

The session ends with a superset for the adductors and obliques, two overlooked areas in many hockey training programs.

Weak adductors are the #1 reason for groin strains.

That's where the med ball adductor squeeze comes in.

Same as with the Valslide leg curls, keep your butt up and ribs down.

Squeeze a med ball HARD between your knees for three seconds (that's the "3" in the 1-3-1-0 tempo), then bring your butt down for one second before the next rep.

Six reps, take 60 seconds off, then continue with...

3B) 1/2 Kneeling Cable Lift & Punch 3x6 60s.

Set up in a half-kneeling position with your feet shoulder width apart, and your outside knee up.

Using an overhand grip on a rope attachment, pull your lower hand to your chest, then straighten it.   

This makes the obliques (especially on the inside) work HARD to maintain good posture. 

Six reps here, 60 seconds off, then back to med ball adductor squeezes.

Three sets on each, and that wraps up this hockey leg workout!

For full off-season and in-season programs that get you jacked and blazing fast, check out Next Level Hockey Training 2.0.

It has produced more D1 college and pro hockey players, and World Champions than any other off-ice program available online.

More details about Next Level Hockey Training 2.0 here:

NextLevelHockeyTraining.com

Yunus Barisik

Hockey Workouts For Speed: How To Skate Faster Like NHL Players

Most hockey speed workouts you find online are garbage.

They're written by armchair experts who have never made a single elite (D1 or professional) athlete faster.

This isn't one of those articles.

Everything you read over the next few minutes has been time-tested and proven to work.

These methods have produced dozens of pro hockey players, D1 athletes, and even World Champions.

With the backdrop out of the way, let's dive in.

"How Can I Increase My Hockey Speed?"

How Can I Increase My Hockey Speed

This is by far the most common question I get from hockey players all over the world.

This 5-minute video reveals the three best types of off-ice hockey workouts for blazing speed.

In short...

If you want to gain freaky speed that lets you split the D and score on a whim, you must:

  • Get strong as hell in the gym
  • Eat a nutritious diet to pack on muscle and strip away fat
  • Sprint and jump to improve speed and explosiveness

For more info on the strength training programs I have used to develop players and prospects from 13 NHL organizations, check out my book Strength Training for Ice Hockey.

In this article, I'll cover the jumping and sprinting parts of the speed equation.

Best Hockey Workouts For Speed

Best Hockey Workouts For Speed

Outside of the kitchen and gym, you must do only two things to get faster:

1. Run over short distances as fast as possible

2. Jump as high/far as you can

That's it!

Hockey Sprint Workouts

Hockey Sprint Workouts

Every hockey player sprints in the off-season.

But why do so few get any faster over the summer?

Watch this video to learn the TRUTH about hockey sprint workouts and avoid the biggest speed training mistakes that leave you stuck in the mud year after year.

Run at 100% effort over 5-30 meters.

Hockey is a multidirectional sport, so also perform drills with changes of direction.

And by the way...

"Quick feet drills" on the agility ladder are USELESS for speed development. Stop wasting your time on that Mickey Mouse shit!

Explosive Speed Training For Hockey Through Jumping

Explosive Speed Training For Hockey

Jumping bridges the gap between the strength you gain in the weight room and being able to express it on those first few crucial steps to win a loose puck.

Add these exercises and their variations into your routine:

  • Vertical jumps
  • Broad jumps
  • Hurdle jumps
  • Depth jumps
  • Lateral bounds
  • Forward bounds

Keep volume (sets x reps) low and rest periods long to maximize the training effect.

For more in-depth jump training info, check out this article series.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do NHL Players Get Faster?

How Do NHL Players Get Faster

Unless you're blessed with excellent speed genetics, you have to bust ass in the gym, on the field, and at the kitchen table to get faster.

You'd be surprised how many NHL players (especially the younger ones) are skinny or skinny-fat weaklings. 

Two or three summers of slinging heavy iron and eating big goes a long way in transforming wiry athletes into studs.

When I say heavy iron, I'm not talking about goblet squats, wall sits, crossover step-ups, or any of that crap peddled all over the internet by clueless "hockey training experts".

I'm talking about training like a man and making real gains!

Here's Pittsburgh Penguins forward Kasper Björkqvist hang power cleaning three reps with 130 kg / 286 pounds when he was still at Providence College.

And this video shows New Jersey Devils forward Aarne Talvitie trap bar deadlifting 250 kg / 550 pounds at age 18.

Want to pack on strength and lean muscle in a hurry, just like Kasper, Aarne, and all my other athletes?

Then check out this training program

It's the perfect workout plan for any hockey player who wants to step up their game against bigger, stronger, faster guys.

How Do You Get Speed Like McDavid?

How Do You Get Speed Like McDavid

You don't.

Connor McDavid is an anomaly.

No matter how hard you train on or off the ice, you won't come close to catching up to him on skates.

That doesn't mean you can't get much faster than you're right now.

Despite all the natural gifts McDavid possesses for out-of-this-world speed, he still lifts heavy and follows a high-performance diet to gain an edge on the ice.

Watch him talk about his training routine under former NHL player Gary Roberts.

Conclusion

Now you know what it really takes to improve your speed off the ice.

Next steps?

1. Read Strength Training for Ice Hockey

2. Follow the workouts inside Next Level Hockey Training 2.0 and Hockey Jump Training

3. Create more chances, score more goals, and triple the number of back pats you receive from your teammates this season.

Yunus Barisik

Strength Training for Ice Hockey Is Now Available for Pre-Order

Today is the day:

My new book Strength Training for Ice Hockey is up for grabs.

FYI, this isn’t a rehashed compilation of my previous articles… and I’m not serving you some lukewarm lifting leftovers from yesteryear.

Strength Training for Ice Hockey includes the most up-to-date training tips, tactics and methods I use to get hockey players strong and jacked. It took me 2.5 years to research, organize, tweak, write and edit the whole shebang.

And the result is the most practical book on off-ice training EVER published. Strength Training for Ice Hockey spans 275 pages and includes almost 300 references to relevant scientific studies.

Despite this fact, you don’t need a PhD in Exercise Science to grasp what I share with you inside. The tone of this book is informal and conversational, yet highly informational. So ANYONE can absorb the key points, implement the advice and dominate the weight room. 

I’m just going to list the most important details about this offer in bullet points to save you time:

* You have the chance to pre-order Strength Training for Ice Hockey at 50% off today (regular price: $39.95). All I ask is that you cover the printing, shipping and handling costs which total $19.95.

* The paperback version starts shipping September 15, 2020 and the e-book will be available for download on August 31.

* You have the option to secure your copy with my signature and turn it into a cherished collector’s item for a few extra bucks at checkout.

* I have hidden a special, unannounced bonus (value: $29.95) on the thank you page just to thank you for ordering the book and supporting my work. That’s right… The value of this bonus *alone* exceeds the tiny price you pay for the entire book. Simply click one single button at the end of the checkout and it’s all yours.

Here’s where to get Strength Training for Ice Hockey at 50% off (and snatch up all the extra goodies along with it):

https://next-level-athletics.com/book/

My New Hockey Training Book Has Just Been Released

Heads up:

It's kinda like Rambo 2... only more violent.

It contains some of my best, most popular and most lesson-dense articles on hockey strength and conditioning.

The book is divided into four main chapters. Topics include:

* Building strength and muscle

* Speed training

* Single-leg training

* And much, much more...

There’s over 25 articles and 150+ pages worth of training nuggets for you to enjoy.

The cost? A few measly bucks. Which makes this one a steal.

Here's where to get it:

https://Next-Level-Athletics.com/Performance-2

Yunus Barisik

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