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.

Top 10 Off-Ice Exercises For A Strong & Athletic Hockey Body

You want to get jacked and perform like a pro athlete.

And you don't have all day to read useless gym theories.

You just need to know exactly what to do.

Build your routine around these top 10 off-ice exercises, reach the pro performance standards listed, and you'll be on your way to the strong and athletic hockey body you want.

#10: 1 Arm Dumbbell Row

A thick, wide, python back never goes out of style. 

It's a dead giveaway – that dude lifts!

One-arm dumbbell rows mainly target the lats, but other upper back muscles also come into play. 

The biggest mistake I see is guys swinging the weight up and down uncontrolled.

Their biceps and forearms do most of the work, but they feel nothing in their back.

This is wasted effort.

Using strict form, learn how to stretch and contract the lat on each rep for maximal growth. 

Moderate body English is acceptable with advanced lifters who know how to stay tight and contract muscle using heavy loads. 

Pro performance: 10 reps with a dumbbell matching your body weight.

#9: Dumbbell Bench Press

When it comes to popular off-ice exercises for the upper body, the barbell bench press sits cozy on the throne.

So why would I pick the dumbbell bench press in its place?

Because I've never had an athlete complain about any shoulder problems with dumbbells.

Your arms are forced into a fixed position on the barbell bench, which can cause issues – especially if you don't know how to stay tight or tuck your elbows. 

With dumbbells, by using a semi-neutral or neutral grip, you can press from a more comfortable position and work around that shoulder pain.

The only major drawback of dumbbell benching?

It's harder to overload.

Since most gyms have dumbbells that go up in 5-pound increments, the jump from a pair of 90s to the 95s often proves to be too much. With challenging loads, you lose a few reps for every 5-pound increase.

Still, the benefits outweigh the cons:

You lift over a greater range of motion, which produces better chest pumps. 

And your shoulders stay healthy in the long run. 

I'll take those, even if it means using a somewhat lighter load than what you can lift with a barbell, any day.

Pro performance: 10 reps with a weight totaling 1.2x body weight.

#8: Glute Ham Raise

While the hamstrings are involved to some degree in any multi-joint lower body exercise (squat, deadlift, split squat...) you perform, for maximal strength and muscle gains you must train them directly. 

Enter the glute ham raise. 

Curling your torso up from a horizontal position using nothing but the muscles of your backside takes (and builds) tremendous hamstring strength.

This short video explains why I prefer glute ham raises over Nordic curls – another bodyweight hamstring exercise that has gained popularity in recent years.

While well-trained athletes can usually jump right in with regular sets of 6-10 reps, many guys don't have strong enough hamstrings just yet.

If that's you, use band assistance to make the concentric (upward) phase easier.

Over time, your goal is to ditch the band and get proficient at owning the full range of motion without help.

Beyond 10-12 regular reps, the same rules of progressive overloading apply as on any other lift: 

Add weight. Hold a plate in front of your chest and bang away.

Pro performance: 20 bodyweight reps.

#7: Chest Supported Row

The problem with many upper back exercises? 

Guys use bad form and momentum to move heavier weights. 

By letting your forearms, biceps or lower back take over, you can lift more.

Too bad it does NOTHING for your upper back development.

Chest supported rows stop that mindless heave-hoeing. 

Since your body is locked into place against the bench, cheating becomes much harder. 

Now you're forced to stop ego lifting and pick lighter loads that give you the best pumps and training effect in the right muscles – mainly in the mid-upper back around the shoulder blades. 

A lot of people do these with dumbbells but beyond a certain point, overloading the movement becomes tricky.

So switch to an EZ or Swiss bar when that happens. 

Also, the upper back responds favorably to increased time under tension. 

So, in addition to using different implements to vary the training stimulus, hold the top position for 3-6 seconds on regular sets or do countdown sets as explained below. 

That will pack some much needed muscle on your back!

Pro performance: No strength metrics here.

Focus on a smooth execution and getting a tremendous pump. Loading is secondary.

#6: Weighted Dip

Despite producing great chest, shoulder and triceps growth, weighted dips don't get the love they deserve.

Probably because they are hard

Much easier to hop on a pec deck or seated shoulder press machine, mindlessly pumping away through your three sets of 12 as you ogle that hot blonde in tight leggings doing RDLs over at the power rack. 

That's not good enough and you know it.

Follow this simple three-step plan to turn into a weighted dip machine:

#1: Get lean, so moving your body through space becomes easier.

#2: Work up to multiple sets of 10-12 bodyweight reps. This is your foundation. Shoulder at elbow level at the bottom, minimum.

#3: Add external load and get freaky strong.

Use different hand positions – regular grip, neutral grip (parallel bars), close-grip, externally rotated grip (hands facing out on V-bar) – to decrease the beating your shoulders take. 

Pro performance: 1 rep with 1x body weight.

#5: Snatch-Grip Deadlift (5s. Eccentric)

Weak, underdeveloped glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors... 

Every hockey player who seeks out my coaching suffers from this same issue.

Your run-of-the-mill personal trainers and physical therapists try to "awaken dormant glutes" by having you go through 20 sets of bodyweight glute bridges or do miniband walks around the block.

What a crock! 

The single best exercise to bring lagging posterior chain muscles up to snuff is the snatch-grip podium deadlift.

Standing on plates, blocks, or an aerobic stepper adds 1-4 inches to the range of motion compared to standing on the floor. 

This increased ROM hammers your backside, especially the spinal erectors. 

Most athletes, at least initially, won't have the mobility and body control to perform quality reps elevated on a podium. 

The next best thing is to reduce the range of motion by elevating the bar on blocks, then get closer to the ground as your mobility and control improve over time. 

Once you have got the technique and timing down pat, it's time to pull from the floor as you pile on the plates.

And here's a neat twist to supercharge your results...

Take five full seconds to lower each rep under control.

This produces incredible spinal erector pumps and makes your lower back bulletproof.

Pro performance: 5 reps with 2.2x body weight.

#4: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

One of the classic off-ice exercises, Bulgarian split squats produce tremendous single-leg strength and stability.

Elevating the back leg also turns it into a flexibility exercise by stretching out the hip flexors – a chronically tight area in hockey players.

Many athletes do this lift with a bar on their back which places the lower back into hyperextension, thereby setting themselves up for future back issues.

It also causes a dangerous situation if you miss a rep because you can't just dump the bar behind your back (your rear leg is there, remember?).

The only bar I recommend using on Bulgarians is a safety bar where you grab the power rack uprights or safety pins for extra stability.

Also known as a Hatfield Bulgarian split squat, this variation lets you overload the legs without having to worry about balance.

Pro performance: 5 reps with 1.5x body weight.

#3: Weighted Chin-Up

Pulling your body from a dead hang over the bar with 100+ pounds hanging off your waist...

How often do you see that? 

Outside of my athletes and YouTube fitness dudes, I've never seen a guy chin with more than two plates at a public gym.

That's unfortunate, because weighted chin-ups are an excellent back and biceps builder. 

It also separates men from boys. And ripped guys from fatties. 

Unlike in the bench press or squat, you can't post impressive strength numbers at 18% body fat.

Every ounce of excess fat you carry on your frame makes weighted chin-ups harder. 

Want outstanding relative strength performance in this lift?

Then stop stuffing your face with Hershey Bars!

Pro performance: 1 rep with 0.7x body weight.

#2: Squat

No hockey player is a stranger to squats. 

You've likely gone down and up with a bar on your back thousands of times.

But few athletes ever squat RIGHT.

"Deep squats hurt your knees" and "Your toes shouldn't go past your toes" are two persistent myths that have damaged more knees and ruined more athletes than anything else I can think of.

This video explains why the "knees over toes = dangerous" argument is absolute bullshyt.

Still think half-squats take the cake?

Then I urge you to read my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey where I break it all down with scientific studies. 

It's true that squatting over a limited range of motion improves jumps and sprints in relatively strong athletes.

But it does nothing for beginners and weak guys. 

First, you get STRONG over a full range of motion.

Taking your full squat from 185 pounds to 365 pounds will do more for your game than shaky, shallow knee bends at 405 ever could. 

Once you're moving respectable loads, you can squeeze short squats into your routine to increase strength at joint angles more specific to sports. 

Until then, no half-squats for you!

Pro performance: 1 rep with 2x body weight.

#1: Trap Bar Deadlift

The high-handle trap bar deadlift is the safest lower body exercise for maxing out and should be a staple in any off-ice routine. 

Thanks to a more upright body position and more natural hand position, the trap bar is the perfect deadlift variation for non-powerlifters.

It doesn't beat you up too much. 

And you can move some huge loads here.

It just feels RIGHT.

Pro performance: 1 rep with 3x body weight.

Reach the pro performance standards on all ten off-ice exercises listed, and there's no way you won't have a lean, muscular, athletic physique.

For context, I have hit (and in many cases surpassed) every single one of these performance markers.

Now go ahead and do likewise. 

To access the most effective strength program ever created for hockey players, click here:

Yunus Barisik

7 Dryland Hockey Training Tips To Unleash Elite Performance

Few athletes grok it:

Dryland hockey training has the potential to either rocket or ruin your game.

From injurious gym exercises to copying the latest Instagram "NHL workout", too many athletes self-sabotage their progress.

The good news?

By doing what other guys can't or won't, you can take your physical performance to heights your competition will never experience.

Why Is Dryland Training Important For Hockey Players?

All the best hockey players in the world train hard off the ice to gain lean muscle mass, improve skating speed, and develop outstanding stamina that makes the difference when the game is on the line. 

In today's fast-paced, high-force game, you can NOT reach your full potential as an athlete without taking physical preparation seriously. 

To give you a glimpse into how top NHL players train in the summer, here's a video shot at Prentiss Hockey Performance in Darien, Connecticut. 

I have fond memories of this gym. I interned there with NHL strength coach Ben Prentiss – who taught me much of what I know about training hockey players – in the summer of 2014.

The summer is when hockey players are made. 

I've seen it over and over: 

An athlete who dedicates himself to gym workouts between May and August shows up to camp a completely different player. 

From exploding away from your man... 

And throwing guys around in board battles...

To sky-high confidence with the puck on your stick...

One great off-season can benefit your game in ways you couldn't have imagined. 

That often translates into a career year – scoring more goals than ever before, winning a championship or individual award, making the jump to a better team or league...

Rack up five or more of those summers in a row?

You'll become UNSTOPPABLE.

Here are seven dryland hockey training tips to achieve that.

Tip #1: Plan Your Workouts

Here's how over 90% of hockey players "train": 

You show up to the gym, glance around to see which equipment is free, take about four seconds to mull over what body part or exercise you feel like doing today, then begin your workout.

You might as well have stayed home if that's the best you can do. 

Without a plan in place, you're doomed to fail.

You're just doing a collection of random exercises in random order, working up a skin-splitting pump, and wearing that crippling post-workout soreness as a badge of honor.

But are you getting any better?


Winging your workouts is the #1 reason athletes can go to the gym for years, only to end up weaker and slower than before.

And, once you hop on a proper off-ice program, your numbers take off as if you were on steroids.

Just read what happened to one of my D1 hockey players once he got serious about lifting for strength, muscle mass, and athletic performance: 

When was the last time YOU gained 60+ pounds on your squat and bench press in a single summer?

For roughly 99.2% of hockey players, it never happens.


Because your training sucks; that's why.

Half-ass preparation and effort produce half-ass results.

Get serious or don't even bother.

Tip #2: Lift Heavy Weights

It never ceases to amaze me when an athlete says he needs to gain strength, then bangs out 3x10-12 on every exercise.

Endless bodybuilding pump work makes you tired, but not STRONG.

To get stronger, you must lift heavier weights than before.

When I say "lift heavy", I don't mean you should slap 300 pounds on the bar and get crushed by it.

I'm talking about using challenging weights in the 1-6 rep range with excellent form.

Doing so improves force production and neural efficiency – the interplay between your brain, nervous system, and muscles. 

Why should that matter?

Because neurally efficient athletes who can produce a ton of force jump HIGHER and skate FASTER.

The best exercises for low-rep, max strength training include:

* Barbell squats

* Deadlifts

* Bench presses

* Weighted chin-ups and dips

* Olympic lifts

For a deep dive into how lifting heavy weights produces physically superior athletes, read my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey.

Tip #3: Don't Guess, Progress

I'm now going to give you a trick that will let you make more progress in the gym than anything else you'll ever do.


Log your workouts. 

The simple act of jotting down your numbers – the exercises you do, the weights you use, number of reps completed, length of rest periods – makes you addicted to the process.

Watching your numbers go up every week provides an endless source of training motivation and buy-in with your program.

When you're constantly shattering personal bests, and have black-on-white proof of it in your journal, you can't wait to get back in the gym for more!

That's the secret to making gains most people can only dream of.

If you aren't tracking your lifts and performance increases over time, you're just guessing. 


Amateurs guess. Pros progress.

Tip #4: Sprint and Jump

Getting freaky strong in the weight room isn't enough.

You must also work on your explosive abilities by sprinting and jumping.

If you don't? 

You'll suffer from the dreaded powerlifter/bodybuilder syndrome:

Big. Strong. And sloooow.

Great athletes stand out thanks to their ability to move.

Evading opponents under pressure, changing directions on a dime, beating your man to the puck over three to five powerful steps...

While a lot of it comes down to natural talent and your ability to read plays two or three moments ahead, you can definitely improve your speed and quickness through smart dryland hockey training.

This video reveals the top 5 plyometric exercises that add springs to your legs.

Tip #5: Speed First, Then Conditioning

You can't compensate for a missing turbo button with tons of cardio.

Yet, that's exactly what most hockey players do. 

Getting "highly" conditioned without increasing velocity and force production (strength, speed and power) only guarantees you'll skate the entire game behind the play.

But hey, that "superior" conditioning allowed you to get beat for a full 60 minutes.

Just think about it:

What will make the biggest difference in your game?

Being the fastest and strongest guy on the ice...

Or playing every shift stuck in third gear, always a step too slow to make a difference?


That's why you get strong, jacked, and explosive first.

Then you bring up your conditioning, so you can repeatedly slingshot away from your man over three full periods (and overtime, when needed). 

Tip #6: Eat Right To Build A Pro Athlete Body 

No discussion about dryland hockey training would be complete without mentioning nutrition. 

Lots of athletes focus so much on what goes on in the gym that they fail to take their diet seriously.

What good is it to train hard five or six days per week, only to undermine all that effort by stuffing your face with Twinkies, Dunkin' Donuts, or other junk filled with sugar and harmful vegetable oils. 

Nutrition is the most ignored and most misunderstood part of a hockey player's physical preparation.

That's why, despite all the hours they spend in the gym, I see so many junior, college, and pro guys with unathletic physiques.

How can you call yourself an athlete when you dare to show up at camp rocking a dad bod – with the flabby gut and spaghetti arms to boot – like some office rat stuck in 9-5 Excel data sheet hell?

Get a grip, dammit! 

Drop the extra body fat, pack some muscle on your frame, and get ripped.

This video shows exactly how to get in fantastic shape through healthy nutrition habits.

Tip #7: Stay Consistent

In a world filled with exaggerations, fabrications, and blatant lies, it's normal to expect to undergo a drastic body transformation – the kind you see plastered all over infomercials and fitness magazines – in a flash. 

6-minute abs!

Lose 10 pounds of belly fat in 3 days!

Add two inches to your biceps in 4 weeks!

The truth?

It takes YEARS to build a standout physique capable of lifting weights that strike fear in the hearts of most.

Happens every winter:

A horde of new members, off the back of yet another soon-to-fail New Year's pledge, storm gyms all over the nation in the first week of January...

Only to disappear like the Epstein client list by February 1st. 

These peeps signed up for a Planet Fitness membership because they want to lose those 40 extra pounds they've gained since college...

Or to chisel a superhero body Chris Hemsworth would be proud of...

Or to go from a skinny dude girls reject to Chad Thundercock...

Only to find out achieving it takes MUCH longer than a few weeks.

So they quit.

Most people give up long before the going gets good.

Guys who don't make fitness and healthy eating a permanent part of their lifestyle will never get to taste the sweet fruits of their labor – where you forge a completely new you over the next decade or two through iron and sweat.

And just so you know...

Unless you're born with great strength and muscle building genetics (which I CERTAINLY wasn't) you have to fight for EVERY extra pound on the bar and ounce of muscle on your frame.

Right up until college, I was a skinny-fat weakling who ran marathons but, like so many other athletes, got stuck lifting the same weights month after month in the gym. 

I HATED feeling weak. 

I HATED how my body looked.

So I decided to change.

I transformed my body and performance through sheer consistency:

13 years after doing my first deadlift, I finally pulled triple bodyweight.

It took me 14 years of serious training to perform a weighted chin-up with 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

And, it took me 20 years to go from a skinny-fat weakling to this:

If that sounds like a long time... that's because it IS. 

Going to the gym 4-6 times per week for 10+ years, never skipping workouts, always striving to beat the numbers in your training journal, tracking your calories and macros...

THAT is consistency. 

And that's what gets results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Exercise For Hockey?

This is usually asked by a guy who rocks linguine arms and half-squats 185 pounds.

Let me make it clear, once and for all:

There's no one single best exercise. 

Smart athletes use a variety of lifts, drills, and movements to get stronger and faster.

Check out these 13 hockey exercises to get started.

Is Squatting Good For Hockey?

Yes, it's a fundamental movement for leg strength and speed development.

Should Hockey Players Deadlift?


Hockey players have underdeveloped glutes and hamstrings compared to quads.

Unless you bring these large, powerful muscle groups on the backside of your leg up to snuff, you can say goodbye to skating fast.

You also set yourself up for injury, both on the ice and in the gym.

Deadlifts are an excellent movement to strengthen your entire posterior chain – the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors.

How Can I Make My Legs Stronger For Hockey?

It boils down to this: 

If you want strong legs, you must lift challenging weights.

That means using squats, deadlifts, power cleans, and other movements that allow for ever-increasing loads in low to moderate rep ranges.

So forget about burpees, BOSU ball split squats, resistance band circuits, and other stupid exercises "experts" post all over social media. 

That crap attracts eyeballs because it looks cool and trendy...

But it does NOT make you strong. 

For a time-tested dryland hockey training program that produces strong and explosive athletes like clockwork, visit:

Yunus Barisik

Upper Body Hockey Workout For Strength & Muscle

Let's cut to the chase:

You're reading this because you're looking to step up your hockey game.

And you figure the best way to do that is to get bigger and stronger.

If packing on muscle helps you score more goals and score Tiffany Tightbottom, the barista who gives you the sparkle eyes whenever you roll up for a post-workout smoothie at the juice bar down the street?

Even better.

But, before I walk you through an upper body hockey workout that packs on the gains, let's clear up some general off-ice training confusion.

Do Hockey Players Need Upper Body Strength?


Despite what your hockey coach or some anonymous nitwit posting nonsense on a message board may have told you, a strong, resilient upper body can only benefit your performance.

While smaller and faster guys have edged out big, lunky players over the last decade or two, hockey is still a brutal contact sport where a lack of physical strength and size hurts your performance.

There's a reason why you won't see Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane, or any other small forward battling it out with 220-pound defenders in goalmouth scrums or along the boards.

They thrive on open ice, with the puck on their stick, where they can create magic thanks to their extraordinary speed, skill, and vision.

But YOU don't have their sublime skillset. Refuse to engage in board battles or shy away from crashing the blue paint for rebounds, and see how long it takes Coach to bench you. 

Expect it to happen faster than you can say "icing".

So you have to find other ways to make yourself valuable to the team.

Every team values a player who constantly wins puck battles, shuts down opponents, and makes smart plays to advance the rush.

While your foundation – your speed, strength, stability – comes from your hips and legs, a strong upper body helps in numerous situations. 

From fighting off checks, to battling in the corners, to owning the space in front of the net, any puck or positional battle requires upper body strength.

Besides, how often do you see a guy with tree trunk legs and a muscular hockey butt, but a paper-thin chest and linguine arms?

Practically never. 

That's because your upper body tends to match the strength and muscularity of your lower body.

If your scrawny chest, arms and shoulders leave your t-shirt sleeves flapping in the wind, there's a good chance your equally underdeveloped quads, glutes and hamstrings won't fill out a pair of skinny jeans, either.

Now that you understand the importance of training your body from the waist up, I'll guide you through a sample upper body hockey workout I use to beef up my athletes.

The Workout

Zooming out to give you the big picture:

This is an upper body session in Phase 3 – our second accumulation (high-volume) phase – of the off-season

For a thorough explanation of accumulation and intensification phases, as well as how to periodize your lifts for continuous progress, read my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey.

Since it's Week 4 of this training phase, volume is at its highest before it's scaled back as intensity (weight on the bar) becomes the priority going into Phase 4.

If you'd prefer to watch a video instead of reading, this clip covers the workout from start to end.

Here's the workout with notes and technique cues:

1) Rotational Med Ball Floor Slam 5x5/ea. 75s. 

Begin the session with an explosive med ball variation.

Stand up tall (all the way up on your tippy toes), then turn your hips as you slam the ball not against, but through the ground.

Your intent is to send it all the way down to China. This ensures maximal velocity and power output.

Alternate sides on each rep for five reps per side (so 10 reps total).

Complete five sets resting 75 seconds between each.

2A) Chin-Up 4x8 5010 90s.

After the explosive med ball slams, continue with a chin-up/push-up superset. 

Pull your chin over the bar, then control the descent for five full seconds (the "5" in the 5010 tempo prescription).

Actively resist gravity by squeezing your biceps and back muscles on the way down.

Use extra weight if body weight reps are a breeze.

Use bands for assistance if body weight is too hard.

After eight reps, take 90 seconds off and continue with...

2B) Parallette Push-Up 4xAMAP 90s. 

Placing your hands on a pair of parallettes increases range of motion.

This leads to huge chest pumps while shaving several reps off of what you can do on regular push-ups with your hands on the floor. 

Do as many good reps as possible (AMAP).

When you're at your freshest in your first set, aim for 15-20 quality reps. As fatigue builds up over sets #2-4, the reps will decrease.

You might get only 10-12 reps in your last set. That's normal.

If you can complete 20+ reps in that first set without breaking a sweat?

Add a plate on your back or throw in a resistance band to increase difficulty.

3A) Double Landmine Press 4x8-12 60s. 

Round up your upper body hockey workout with a push-pull-core tri-set. 

First up, an excellent shoulder movement, the double landmine press.

Brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you press the weights up. Don't let your ribs flare!

Most gyms don't have any way to set up a double landmine station.

If yours is one of them, your options are limited to either DIY Viking presses with two barbells in a power rack, or doing single-arm landmine presses.

Either way, do 8-12 reps, rest 60 seconds, then move on to...

3B) 1 Arm DB Row 4x8 5010 60s. 

A classic back builder, dumbbell rows are one of my favorite horizontal pulling exercises. 

Place your non-working hand on a bench and your feet on the floor.

This gives you more stability than placing a knee on the bench – something most people do without ever questioning whether it makes any sense.

From here, row the dumbbell toward your back pocket (not up to your chest which targets more the upper traps).

Same as with the chin-ups, take one second for the upward phase and lower in five. Your lats should get torched here!

Use straps once you get up to a weight your grip can no longer match.

Complete eight reps, take a 60-second breather, and finish the tri-set with...

3C) Valslide Jackknife 4x8-12 60s.

Using a pair of furniture sliders or a towel under your feet, set up in a push-up position.

From here, bring your feet toward your face. Return to the push-up position, take a few steps forward or backward, then do another rep.

Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes to maintain level hips!

Use a resistance band if regular reps feel too easy.

Complete 8-12 reps before starting over with landmine presses. Go through the tri-set four times. 

And that completes this upper body hockey workout!

For full off-season and in-season programs that pack strength and size on you faster than anything else, 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:

Yunus Barisik

Hockey Speed Workout: Get Fast Like The Pros

A pro hockey player from Sweden asked me on Instagram to share what a typical hockey speed workout for my athletes looks like. 

Since I’ve been getting tons of questions about off-ice speed development – which exercises to pick, how many reps you should do, how long to rest between efforts – now is the perfect time to cover this topic.

Before walking you through a full speed session, I'll share some critical background info: 

1. True speed development is neural, not muscular.

That means you must jump and sprint in a fresh state and keep training volume low.

Excluding the warm-up, 20-30 minutes per session is all a hockey player needs to develop blazing speed.

Spending an hour at the track means you're doing conditioning work, making yourself slower.

2. Apply maximal effort.

Once your take-off and landing mechanics look smooth, you have only one goal:

Jump as high or far as you can. And sprint as fast as you can.

Half-assing it at 90% won't cut it.

Like the great Canadian sprint coach Charlie Francis used to say:

"If you want to run faster, run faster."

With these two guidelines in mind, let's move on to the workout itself.

If you'd prefer to watch a video instead of reading, press "play" below.

This hockey speed workout is best done in the second half of the off-season when you have prepped your body through basic jump training progressions and shorter sprint distances of 5-10 meters.

1) Hurdle Jump 4x5 60s. 

Set up five hurdles and rebound over them.

How high should the hurdles be?

Start at knee height (this should be fairly easy and gives you a chance to nail the timing before things get harder), then go up in each set until you reach a challenging height. 

Advanced athletes can start at hip height.

Keep your reps springy with minimal ground contact time to improve the elastic properties of your muscles and tendons.

Five reps, rest 60 seconds, repeat four times.

2) Lateral Bound 4x5 60s. 

With a linear unilateral jump variation in the bag, it's time to go sideways on one leg.

One of the best jump exercises for a hockey athlete, the lateral bound mimics the skating stride.

Players who excel in this movement have great power behind their push-offs. The more ground you can cover here, the faster you'll be on the ice.

Go for maximal height and distance. Control the landing on each rep, then explode in the other direction. 

Perform four sets of five reps taking a 60-second break. 

That's five reps per set, total. NOT per leg.

3) 20m Sprint x5 120s.

Today, we're working on linear (straight ahead) acceleration with 20-meter sprints. 

Most of the time, we use a regular standing start aka two-point start.

But if you want to make things a bit more interesting, you can get down on one knee and start from a sideways position, where you have to use your back leg to push off.

Regardless of your starting position, run five sprints resting two minutes between efforts.

Perform a hockey speed workout like this – using a combination of jumps and sprints, low volume, maximal effort, and adequate breaks – twice a week in the off-season, and you can't help but feel like someone tacked rockets on your skates when you return to the ice.

For even more speed training secrets of the pros, check out

Yunus Barisik

3 Off-Ice Hockey Training Mistakes (Almost) Every Player Makes

Not a week goes by that I don't see, hear, or read about hockey players fucking around in the gym.

It happens at every level of competition.

Even guys you watch on ESPN getting paid six or seven figures to chase a rubber puck in front of 15,000 fans are duped by injurious, performance destroying workouts.

So bad is the current state of off-ice hockey training, I could have extended this list to cover 30 mistakes almost every athlete unknowingly makes, and it still would be nowhere complete.

But just steering away from these three major ones will INSTANTLY give you a leg up on your competition.

Mistake #1: Chasing Fatigue, Not Results

In his book Dominate, PK Subban's strength coach Clance Laylor put it brilliantly: 

Hockey players are fatigue seekers.

They equate "great training" with burning muscles, gasping for air, and crippling post-workout soreness. 

Just because you feel exhausted after a workout does NOT mean it was productive or brings you any closer to your performance goals.

I'm getting tired of saying it... but I have to repeat it:

Results are the only thing that matters.

If you're not getting bigger and stronger in the gym, you're wasting time.

What do you think will better translate to your game:

Squatting 2x body weight or doing light sets with 135 pounds on the bar?

Deadlifting 500 pounds or repping out 50 burpees?

Bulgarian split squatting 275 pounds for five reps or doing a bodyweight death circuit where your heart rate reaches 200? 

I hope you picked heavy squats (both on one and two legs) and deadlifts. 

Hit the numbers above and there's no chance in hell you won't have outstanding strength and power with serious muscle mass to boot.

Can't say the same for light squats, burpees, and circuits.

Mistake #2: Overconditioning

Directly tied with mistake #1, skinny weaklings ALWAYS try to compensate for their lack of strength and muscle mass by conditioning themselves to death.

Stationary bike workouts, jogging, battle ropes, circuits, gassers...

All busy work that hockey players turn to in the hopes of curing dead legs in the third period.

Doing tons of random physical activity and bathing athletes in lactate made CrossFit popular.

But it's not how you develop great hockey performance.

Forget the third period when you can't even perform in the first two.

Watch this video to discover off-ice hockey conditioning methods that give you an extra gear late in a game.

I once trained a Dutch Men's National Team player who was weak and skinny.

Unsurprisingly, he struggled with his endurance in the third period. His legs felt exhausted in the dying minutes when the game was on the line.

Even though I had him do very little conditioning outside of hockey practice, this athlete enjoyed a massive boost in his stamina on my program.

He played a career year scoring more goals and points than ever before, won a National Championship, and reported feeling great in the last minutes of a game – with enough gas in the tank to easily play another period if needed.

So what did his off-ice hockey program consist of?

Lots of strength work in the form of squats, deadlifts, weighted chin-ups. 

The lesson here?

Getting stronger makes EVERYTHING easier.

Stop pummeling yourself into the ground with excess cardio.

Just get friggin' strong.

Mistake #3: Unstable Surface Training

How many times have you seen clips of an NHL star perform some type of squat balancing on a BOSU or dumbbell bench presses lying on a stability ball?

That crap is all over the internet and makes my blood boil!

The argument goes something like this:

Skating requires great balance and core strength because you're standing on thin blades on a slippery ice surface. 

So training on unbalanced surfaces will improve both, therefore translating to higher hockey performance.

Just one small problem...

It's all WRONG! 

Without going too deep into it, the big barbell lifts strengthen your abdominals and lower back muscles (aka your "core") more than split squatting a pair of 20-pound dumbbells on a BOSU ball ever could.

Try squatting 2x bodyweight and deadlifting 3x bodyweight.

Nobody who can do that has got a weak core or weak anything.

Okay... but at least exercises on wobbly implements help with stability on skates, right?


Balance is a task-specific ability. 


Superior balance in one activity doesn’t transfer to superior balance in a different activity.

You could be the world's greatest tightrope walker, defying death by crossing a 150-meter gap between two skyscrapers, yet that wouldn't add anything to your skating because the two activities are unrelated, take place on different surfaces, and use different equipment and movement patterns.

Remember that the next time a "trainer" tells you to suck in the navel as you stand on a stability ball while patting your head.

You're being taken for a ride.

And here's the kicker...

Lower body training on unstable surfaces, even if it's a small part of your workouts, kills your strength and speed.

For a thorough deep dive into this topic, read Chapter 3 in my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey where I break down the fallacy of balance training with scientific research.

Outside of rehab (and even that's debatable), there's no reason for a healthy hockey athlete to EVER add silly circus tricks on inflatable balls, balance boards or rubber discs to their routine.

If you're looking for a proven off-ice hockey plan to gain more strength, speed and size than you ever thought possible, then check out Next Level Hockey Training 2.0.

Thousands of hockey players – ranging from men's rec league players to D1 college athletes and NHL draft picks – use these workouts to gain an unfair performance advantage in the gym.

And it's available for you right here today:

Yunus Barisik

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.


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:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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:

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