What to Do When You Get Too Strong

What to Do When You Get Too Strong

Here's an interesting problem I've run into lately:

My hockey players are getting too strong.

Specifically, in single-leg movements.

Some of my guys are dang near split squatting double body weight with a barbell in the front rack position.

For example, two 17-year-old forwards on our U18 team finished the 3x/week off-season training program available in my Next Level Hockey Training System (http://www.NextLevelHockeyTraining.com) with 145 kg / 319 pounds on the bar while hovering at a body weight of ca. 77 and 82 kg, respectively.

So what's the problem, you say?


Once you're split squatting three plates or more, you're holding so much weight that stability can become a problem. A slight misstep getting into/out of position or during your set under such big weights can potentially lead to a catastrophic injury.

So what to do then?

The simplest option would be to use dumbbells and weight vests to load guys infinitely beyond 300 pounds. This places less direct stress on the spine and if you miss a rep, you simply drop the dumbbells.

Too bad our current gym setup only runs up to 220 pounds with the DB's and vests. We've used 10-pound plates attached to a chin-up belt between the legs for additional resistance but more than 20-30 pounds on the belt becomes rather uncomfortable.

(Let's face it, nobody loves the idea of plates dangling so close to ya nutz)

That has forced me to tweak our training a bit.

For one, I've replaced some of our single-leg squats with bilateral squats.

Squats off pins have quickly become my favorite since you can do them front or back squat style, they're pretty much impossible to mess up, and are easier to recover from than traditional barbell squats.

In addition, we've started doing more back and box squats.

I've also been looking at safety squat bars which would allow an athlete to load the lower body with big weights while leaving the hands free to grab the uprights in a power rack, thus decreasing stability demands in a split squat position.

Another possibility involves using a U-bar (basically a trap bar with one side open) for single-leg squatting.

Both are somewhat costly options but could very well be just what herr doktor ordered in the long-term.

I guess we're really talking about a First World problem when guys get too strong for their own safety.

But it's a good problem to have.

For an in-depth exposure to my training methods that get ​hockey players freaky strong, take a look at:


Yunus Barisik

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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.

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