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

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!


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