Power is a Choice

It was October 2016 in East Meadow, N.Y. — home of the New York Islanders’ new practice facility. I was packing up equipment  after  the  USA  women’s national team had just finished another round of speed and power testing. Along with some of the brightest minds in exercise physiology, I was tasked with helping to develop a pro- gram that would yield the fastest women’s hockey team in history. As Hilary Knight and company headed to the locker room, I headed to the Islanders locker room to meet with a former L.A. Kings first-round draft pick, Thomas Hickey. With just a handful of minutes to rack his brain, I wanted to know his thoughts on how the game of hockey has changed the past 10 years. Simply stated, he said, “You can skate like the wind all you want, but if you can’t get to that top speed within the first five strides, you don’t have a place in this league. The new NHL is about power.”


As always, let’s cover the basics first. Velocity leads to power. Force also leads to power. In-fact, force times velocity equals power (FxV=P). Before you can train to improve your power, you need to self-assess your weaknesses and establish what your goals are. Do you need to generate more force, or more velocity? If you’re having a tough time deciding which metric you need more, let me help you. Does your objective have a time constraint? For ex- ample, do you need to get from point A to point B faster? If yes, then you need more velocity-based power. If your objective does not have a time restriction, such as improving a one-rep max on a single lift or running over a linebacker, you need force-based power.

As you can see, not all goal-oriented programming is created with common results in mind. For this column, I will lay out some fundamental adjustments that you will need to make to achieve the proper adaptations from your velocity-based training (VBT) or force-based training (FBT).

Hockey Player A: Force-based training

Assets: Has excellent hockey sense and offensive instincts — is a crafty play- maker. Shifty, this player skates very well and can make plays at high speed. Is brave and leads by example. Can be used in a lot of different situations.

Liabilities: Lacks both size and strength, so is somewhat susceptible to injury. When this player stops moving feet, he or she is rendered ineffective. Be- cause of lack of size, has trouble winning board battles from the wing position.

Keys to consider: Eat more, train smarter, focus on large muscle groups, and recover well. Take your bodyweight, add a zero, then add 1,000. That’s how many calories you need to eat per day. Mid- to low-volume weight training with recovery to 70 percent HRM between sets. No greater than 8 reps per set. Four days on, three days off.

Exercises to add: Single-leg squats, close-grip bench, wide-grip pull-ups, RFE’s, Incline or Uphill trail sprints.

Hockey Player B: Velocity-based training

Assets: Is blessed with generous size and the physicality to punish opposing forwards with regularity. Is also willing to drop the gloves. Keeps things simple.

Liabilities: Handling the puck too much can be a problem in high-energy situations. Must also continue to work on skating to handle quicker forwards.

Keys to consider: Focus on improv- ing on the unpredictable. Workouts should make you feel uncomfortable. Short-burst, high-intensity sets to mimic an on-ice shift is encouraged. Heart rate should be 81 percent to 94 percent HRM for 30 seconds at a time. Train with the panic button on and you’ll exceed the demands in competition in high-stress environments. Train fast, skate fast. Think kangaroo, not gorilla.

Exercises to add: Single-leg tempo squats, barbell tempo chain squats, alternating neutral DB press, jump rope, ladder drills, boxing, 20-yard sprints, high-box jumps, single-leg broad jumps.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that is OK. There are a few methods to self- monitor yourself to ensure you are training at the appropriate pace. First, your HR max is calculated by subtracting your age from 220 for men and your age from 226 for women. Additionally, there is a term called “bar velocity” that is a measurement of the ascent of a lift. We have many documented metrics, and to accomplish the two types of power we have just discussed, you will need to ad- here to the following guidelines.

To develop velocity: Each ascent of each exercise will need to be completed in less than 1.3 seconds.

To develop force: To ensure you have exited the velocity and entered the force production, each ascent will occur no faster than 1.3 to 1.7 seconds.

Go get your power. The power that is best for you.