Do you need Rotational Strength in Hockey?

Everyone knows that hockey is a game of speed- those first to the puck definitely have the upper hand. But what most athletes neglect in training, is the importance of functional rotational strength. In hockey, a strong, flexible core region (abdominal and low back) will aid in a powerful stride as well as balance and stability on the ice, protect from injury, as well as improve shot performance. Part one of this article focuses on unique exercises that will strengthen the core area of the hockey player making him or her a force to be reckoned with on the ice.

Exercise 1 – The Tornado:
The Tornado is an excellent movement that targets not only the core, but also the entire shoulder girdle. The unique function of this exercise lies in the range of motion- the athlete must constantly contract the core muscles, eliminating any resting phase of the movement.

Execution: Have a barbell loaded on one side only, with the empty side placed into the corner of the wall or corner of the power rack. With feet slightly bent and shoulder-width apart, lift loaded side to chest height with arms bent to begin the movement. Lift barbell overhead and proceed to turn upper body to left side, while lowering the barbell to the left side with arms slightly bent. Hold pause and contract. Raise barbell to starting position above head and proceed with right side.

Repetitions: 10-12
Sets: 2-3.

Be sure to use a weight that enables you to “feel” the exercise- form is essential. A gradual progression of added weight or extra reps (only if form is impeccable) will provide extra challenge to the player.

Exercise 2) – Russian Twists with medicine ball
The Russian twist is another movement that works the core region with direct resistance (medicine ball), as well through the athlete trying to “stabilize” the body through body balance.

Execution: Simply sit on the ground with the upper body arched and slightly leaning back (approximately 45 degree angle) while simultaneously lifting the feet in the air. The knees are kept bent throughout the exercise. Now, while grasping the medicine ball at one side of the body, begin lifting the ball off the ground and twisting the arms and lower abdominal region to the other side and hit the ground with the ball. Don’t relax the ball as it makes contact with the ground, but simply continue the exercise to the other side, continuing to make brief contact with the ground and twisting to the other side.
Repetitions: 20-30 to begin
Sets: 2-3

If the exercise becomes too easy for the athlete, simply add more repetitions, go for time, or even use a slightly heavier medicine ball. Remember to focus on form, and progress will follow!

Exercise 3) – Partner Assisted Static Pushes
This is a simple, yet effective exercise for training the rotational core muscles of the abdominal region (internal and external obliques). The only drawback to this exercise is that at least two people are needed to perform it.

Execution: Simply have two athletes facing one another with legs shoulder width apart. While the working athlete holds their arms straight out in front and hands clasped together, the partner will simply add resistance by slightly pushing against the hands of the athlete. The working athlete will then try to keep their arms straight out in front of themselves, by “pushing” against their partner. This exercise targets the oblique regions of the athlete, by forcing them to use their core region (abdominals and lower back musculature) to remain in position.

Repetitions: 12-15 reps or go for a set time
Sets: 2-3 (change sides, and push from the other direction)

Remember not to push too hard against the working athlete, but just enough to let them feel their core area being worked. Again, add repetitions to the exercise or time for added progression.

There you have three great exercises that can be incorporated into an abdominal circuit. Choose 1-2 of these to begin, but remember, form over weight being used is the utmost concern- Please, leave your ego at the door! Enjoy.




The DEVIL workout


Why is it that whenever I’m in a gym I see people benching the same weight at each workout? It usually goes like this. A person performs a few reps at 185 pounds then at 205, and maybe 225 and then they get stuck. At this point the individual moves to another exercise, most likely the incline bench, and does the same kind of thing. You would think that after a year the weight they can bench would be through the roof, but unfortunately they haven’t seen continued improvement because most people don’t know how to maximize their strength training capacity. They don’t know how to initiate progression. The potential for increasing muscle size just isn’t being met.

Though we, at SST, have different bench routines for each of our athletes, the one I want to outline here is a favorite because it helps the athlete gain not only strength, but also size.

Basically the workout consists of 6 sets of 6 reps but with drop sets. Of course, after finishing this workout, many of our athletes feel like their body has been to hell and back!

Here’s how the program works from a physiological standpoint. An important factor to consider when working to increase strength and muscle size is to maximize motor unit activation. To better understand this, think of your body as containing a pool of motor units. By performing the DEVIL bench workout, which consists of lifting at, or near, maximum capacity, you would activate almost all of those motor units. The type of motor units we are aiming to recruit are the “fast twitch” or the type IIb muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers are associated with high threshold motor units and are evidenced by power, speed and explosiveness. SST encourages their athletes to recruit the fast twitch fibers because this optimizes the most potential for building both strength and size. And who doesn’t want to be bigger and stronger?

The DEVIL workout is also an effective tool when used to build up the legs, but for now let’s look at increasing bench performance.

Exercise order





Rest in between reps

Rest after set


14” Bench press







Wide grip pull- ups







Bench press







Narrow grip pull ups







Wide grip Bench press







Chin ups







Decline lying db triceps extension







External rotation on knee with db






About Tempo: Tempo refers to speed of movement. The first number represents the speed, in seconds, when lowering the weight or letting it down with gravity. The second number refers to the pause between lowering and raising. The third number refers to the speed of raising the weight.

For an example, look at the chin-up tempo. The tempo is 211; therefore the athlete would lift himself up over the bar in one second, pause for one second and then lower himself for 2 seconds.

For the most efficient workout SST pairs exercises together. For instance, you would do A1 immediately followed by A2 as the first pairing, and then repeat until all sets have been completed. At this point move on to B1 and B2 and follow the same pattern.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Three different grips are used for bench work.

Differing the grip and varying the load, increases muscle tension and motor unit activation. By varying the grip you maximize muscle recruitment thus increasing the potential to build muscle mass.

How the rep scheme is broken down.

SST recommends starting with a weight that is near your maximum ability for one rep. Lift this weight for 2 reps. Wait 15 seconds then use a weight that is 5 to 10% less and perform a single rep at maximum tension. Repeat with this weight until you have completed 6 reps in total.

Alternate bench work with chin-ups/pull-ups.

Research has shown that by working opposite muscle groups overall strength is improved in the most beneficial manner. Perform all 6 reps of chins and pull-ups at the same time with no rest in between reps. When you are able to perform all 6 reps with ease add more weight.

It is important to rest between sets.

There is a 15 second rest between reps when doing bench lifts which allows the body to recover and to recruit maximum motor units for every lift. By lifting in this manner, the athlete is able to tap into the higher threshold motor units. By using the maximum tension in every lift, you can expect to make tremendous gains in strength and start to build up size.

This workout is demanding but the results are well worth the effort. Perform your workout once every 4 – 5 days for a month and let me know what you think.

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. and has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports ranging from your Weekend Warrior to the Professional.

CALL US NOW FOR SUMMER FOOTBALL PROGRAM- we only have 12 spots left!

If you would like more information about SST please visit our website at

How to Develop Speed in your football players? Coach Bodawg and the Dawg tell you!


The SST “F.A.S.T” 8 Pillars for Developing Speed Part 1

What is the Holy Grail of all sports performance? SPEED! Learn methods of training other than the ordinary A and B skips for speed development. Is there anything more rewarding than watching one of your athletes run sub 4.5s in the forty or vertical jump over 35 inches at an NHL camp?

When an athlete starts training with SST, the most common question is, “Will I improve my speed?” Of course we are honest and tell them that not everyone has the genetics to be a 100m champion and that they should set their expectations to be realistic. However, most athletes haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential. At SST we have our 8 Pillars to improve an athlete’s speed. If an athlete can improve one area there will be some improvement in their speed … but if they can improve them all, the results are outstanding!

High Performance Summer Football Camp

The SST “FAST” 8 Pillars for Developing Speed include:

  1. Body Composition
  2. Strength and Power Training
  3. Flexibility
  4. Technique
  5. Functional Strength
  6. Overspeed and Resistance training
  7. Plyometrics
  8. Lateral and Agility

In this article we will touch on the first four pillars that are your foundation, or base, of your athletic triangle:


1. Body Composition

If an athlete is carrying too much body fat, their speed will be limited. Think about this for a second … put on a weighted vest with only 10lbs and perform a sprint … big difference! Yes, due to the fact that you are carrying DEAD WEIGHT!

Every sport (and even different positions in the same sport) has its own range for optimal body fat. An Offensive Lineman and a hockey center obviously have different physiques. The fact remains that muscle makes your body move, but fat slows you down. The way to improve body composition is through a clean diet and interval training. SST does not recommend rhythmical Cardio as it is counterproductive to speed development.

2. Strength & Power

Newton’s 3rd Law of motion:

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Your ability to initiate force into the ground is what makes you fast! The first 30 yards in a sprint is directly correlated to your strength levels and how much force you can produce into the ground. The term relative strength refers to your strength levels compared to your body weight. This quality of relative strength is most relevant to speed because it refers to your ability to move your own weight the fastest. Relative strength is so important because increasing absolute strength without any regard to body composition does not guarantee increased speed. An example is a power lifter who generates a ton of absolute strength with no care for their own body composition nor the speed of the movement. We want FAST athletes not just big and strong. Think of it another way … we can make a huge car with a bigger engine but wouldn’t it be better to keep the car weight the same and increase the horsepower of that engine?

If we can produce more power into the ground, our equal and opposite reaction will be our athlete moving faster across that ground! Thus, being on a structured, periodized strength training program will go a long way to increasing your speed. Make sure that you plan your program properly around generating more force and eliminating weak links in your kinetic chain!

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is often the most overlooked aspect of speed training. If you ask a 16 year old athlete if they work on their flexibility, they’ll usually tell you that they stretch before practice. Research has actually discovered that static stretching before a workout or game decreases speed! Sayer, et al discovered that there was a significant difference in the acceleration phase between the stretch and non-stretch groups. What is the acceleration phase? … it’s the part of a sprint when a player goes from a standing start to full speed – somewhere around 20 meters. The study also found that static stretching diminishes maximal velocity! It was discovered that an athlete could lose up to 0.39 seconds after static stretching and with sprints lasting only 4-5 seconds, this is SIGNIFICANT!

Static stretching is not what we refer to when we say flexibility training. Our athletes take 10-15 minutes before workouts or speed sessions performing dynamic flexibility and mobility drills.

We, at SST, have come up with BAND DYNAMIC PNF stretching. After a 10 minute warm up, band stretching should be performed for 10 minutes prior to the workout. Hold your stretches for 6-10 seconds, and try and hit as many different angles as possible to work on different muscle fibres. You need to spend 5-6 days a week trying to improve this area.

4. Technique

Many coaches out there will spend most of their time on this quality and yes, it is a very important pillar, but it is not the be all and end all that some coaches think it is. Over the years I have spent a majority of time on technique neglecting other base qualities and my athlete’s performance suffered. As strength coaches, most of us will not be working with 100m Olympic sprinters, thus technique should not be overanalyzed with athletes such as hockey players, football players, soccer players,etc.

It is, however, important to learn proper running fundamentals for both straight ahead speed, as well as for changing directions. If you are wasting movement you’re wasting time, so spend some time with a coach who can correct your errors. It is a waste of time to go out and practice running if your form is wrong. Remember it’s not practice makes perfect … its perfect practice makes perfect.

Larry Jusdanis and Steve Bodanis are the owners of Sports Specific Training Burlington and Hamilton. SST has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports. SST’s no nonsense approach to training has been used by thousands of athletes from a variety of sports all over the nation!

Please contact your local SST to register for this years summer camp!


Hockey-Speed and Power training

One of the most frequently asked questions hockey athletes want answers to, is how to become faster on the ice. Everyone wants fast feet. Going after a dumped puck, outskating a defender, or even chasing down a breakaway while back- checking all require speed. However, when looking at the training programs of young hockey players, one thing is always obvious- they’re not training correctly to become faster players.

The Hockey Speed Program at S.S.T. does what others leave out- train fast to play fast! It’s not uncommon for players to soak up time training their aerobic systems on the treadmill or even a stationary cycle. Long bouts of monotonous, low intensity work sessions are a sure way to increase aerobic capacity, yet how many hockey players do you see having a 20 or 30 minute shift? None! That’s why traditional aerobic work will not only leave a player weak on the ice, but more importantly, left behind. Our main focus is keeping the athletes in settings specific to their sport, and that’s why our training methods have been talked about for years. Training hockey players in quick, powerful movements for limited periods of time mimics the tempo of the game on ice.


Our programs are designed specifically with the intent on giving young athletes the very best, from beginning to end. That’s why our coaches teach dynamic warmup techniques- the most effective means at warming up an athlete while simultaneously decreasing injury. Traditional “static” and “cold” stretching is a thing of the past, and S.S.T. will eliminate any doubts!

Not only is speed a factor of success on ice, but so is footwork. Our coaches believe in the importance of being quick on the ice- fast feet coupled with fast body control and coordination. Off ice ladder and running agility drills are a specialty for S.S.T. coaches.

The importance of jumping and bounding in terms of hockey training is essential in developing power for the athlete. Simple jumps over pylons, long jumps, lateral hops and depth drops are just a few of the plyometric exercises that we use to develop power that will transfer to game time. By targeting the “stretch-shortening cycle” of the muscle through these means, players will undoubtedly take their game to another level!

Perhaps the greatest misconceptions that many coaches have in trying to develop fast players is to run them into the ground, in hopes that it will transfer to on ice play. Leave those ideas at the door, and watch how S.S.T. utilizes some of the most innovative and productive means at achieving speed!!! Power training sleds, which have been a staple at our training center for years, are an excellent way at bringing up a players weakness in a short amount of time. While most off ice camps fail to provide proper resistance training programs for their athletes, S.S.T. uses weighted sleds to achieve muscular balance. The backwards sled pull targets the Vastus Medialis muscle of the leg, which has been proven to be a fundamental weakness in the majority of hockey players who begin their training with us. Other sled techniques involve the athlete performing side lateral shuffles as well as cross-overs, each targeting specific areas to improve on ice stride power. In fact, our power sled training has become so effective in making athletes stronger that our DVD is one of the most popular training tools to hit the market!

Through experience, research and results, Sports Specific Training has unlocked the mystery of effective hockey speed training. It’s a working program that has produced some of the quickest skaters on the ice today. Don’t be left behind!!

Hockey Speed Training- High Performance Camp

Please contact your local SST to register for this years summer camp!


Why Increase Your Omega 3 Intake?

I keep hearing about good fats and why I should be taking them. If I took good fats wouldn’t I just become fatter and what are the true benefits? Also, what are Omega 3 fats?

Grant N.

Hey Grant, that’s a great question and one that I hear regularly. First let’s get an understanding of fats. Fatty acids can be broken down into two main categories- Saturated and Unsaturated. These two can be broken down into sub-categories as well, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fatty acids are made up of the number of carbon atoms and hydrogen molecules they can hold. All fats have a combination of these with one being predominant.

Fat is necessary for good health. Deficiencies of the so called “Good Fats” can cause health consequences. Good Fats can be described as Omega 6 or Omega 3. Omega 6 fats are highly consumed in our diet relative to Omega 3. The ratio is up to 20:1 whereas it should be more of a 1:1 ratio. Here at SST, we like to put our athletes on higher dosages of Omega 3 fats. There are 3 types of Omega 3- ALA (found in flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil and walnuts) Docosahaexaenoic (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which are found in fish and fish oils. ALA is essential but does not convert well so I like to recommend fish oils to our athletes. Our brains are made up of 60% fat. DHA is one of the most important fats for the brain and it is sometimes called “brain food”. All omega 3 fats also help with the anti-inflammatory process of the body as well. As well, a higher intake of Omega 3 leads to fat loss. This is usually the first supplement I add to our athletes’ diets when they come into the SST Centre.

Fish Oil can have benefits for the body with the following medical problems:





Chronic fatigue syndrome

As mentioned I prefer a high dose of fish oils for my athletes depending upon their body fat levels – from 9-15 grams per day! I like to use reputable companies that use higher grade fish oil such as Metagenics, Genestra, Organika, Life Extension and my good friend Charles Poliquin’s in-house brand. I instruct my athletes to take their fish oils with every meal. A good trick to help avoid burping up fish a taste is to keep them in your freezer.

Grant I hope this helps you understand Omega 3 oils a bit better!

Good luck with your training and nutrition! If you want more info regarding all Women’s Fit and Lean Program or Men’s Maxfit please contact your community SST

SST Mississauga – Pro Circuit Athlete of the month: Michael Botelho

Michael is unlike any other youth athlete I have ever known. I do not think one coach at SST Mississauga has not mentioned how hard Michael works or his positive attitude in the gym. Even many of our other athletes have commended him on his work efforts and eagerness to train. He is always looking to push himself further and lift a little more each week. Michael always has a smile on his face and is never shy to talk to anyone! When it comes to our end of workout ‘Finishers’ Michael thrives! He loves challenging himself and seeing just how far he can push himself, especially if older athletes are around to compete against! Michael is a true force to be reckoned with and he is the epitome of SST Strong!

SST Mississauga – Pro Circuit Adult of the month: John Wamboldt

John has been training at SST Mississauga for years along with his two sons. John is incredibly dedicated to his training and is religiously in the gym 3-4 days a week. He recently embarked on SST’s ‘Get Lean’ program and after 3 weeks is already down almost 6lbs but has gained almost 2lbs of muscle! His determination to make changes in his like to feel better, be healthier and get stronger make John truly SST Strong!

SST Mississauga’s Pro Circuit Adult Athlete of the Month

SST Mississauga’s Pro Circuit Adult Athlete of the Month

2015 Ontario Prospect Challenge – Varsity Game

This past weekend saw some great OPC football in St Catharines, Ontario.

Here are the games stats for the – 2015 Ontario Prospect Challenge Varsity Game.

Game Awards

  • Baron Rings M.V.P. – Nigel Goodridge – Halton Peel
  • Big Kahuna Offensive Player – Clarke McCallum – Halton Peel
  • Xenith Helmets Defensive Player – Teddy Mansell – West
Nigel Goodridge - Overall MVP

Nigel Goodridge – Overall MVP

Clark McCallum - Big Kahuna Offensive Player

Clark McCallum – Big Kahuna Offensive Player

2015 OPC Varsity game summary
2015 OPC Junior Varsity game summary

2015 OPC Minor game summary

2015 OPC Underclassmen game summary