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Is Ballistic Fitness The Proper Fitness Program For Hockey Players?

At Ballistic Fitness our training is constantly varied functional movements, executed at high intensity. Hockey is constantly varied functional movement – limited to skating, passing, shooting, and checking – executed at high intensity.

Alec Dekonning of the Sarnia Legionnaires

By definition, there’s practical application for functional movements in your hockey training program. Ballistic Fitness emphasizes large, compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, and cleans; high-intensity intervals; short anaerobic bursts instead of long-distance low-threshold running.

Especially in the early offseason, when the goal of dryland training is to deliver all-over, well-rounded conditioning, Ballistic Fitness is a great fit.

Your goal in the offseason, especially at the beginning, is to build a base of fitness – strength, speed, power, and anaerobic endurance – upon which you can construct hockey-specific skills. This is not an ‘aerobic base’ – a common misperception – but a base for work capacity. The more efficient you are at performing work (force x distance,) and the faster you can recover from repeated bouts of work, the more prepared you are to demonstrate skill.

Local youth hockey players and teams.

In hockey, skill rules the day. However, without a solid level of work capacity, you’ll never develop the skills that become ingrained only through practice. For instance, if you tire after 30 minutes of practice, and your coach works on a passing skillset at the end of practices, you won’t have the energy or processing capacity to properly learn the new skill. Learning a new skill while fatigued is not only very unlikely, but it’s probable that you won’t perform it perfectly. Practice makes permanent. This is the reason we advocate skill-based work before conditioning work – but that’s a different article altogether.

If you’re building your offseason macrocycle like this: GPP (General Physical Preparedness) – Strength – Power – Speed – SPP (specific physical preparedness) then you’d do best to use functional movements in the GPP phases.

Ballistic Fitness makes no bones about it: our specialty is NOT specializing. The closer you get to your season, the more you’ll prioritize your time to include a greater percentage of skill-based work. That’s the job of your on-ice coaches, however; our job as conditioning coaches is to deliver the best possible athlete to the team’s doorstep for training camp.

Our local boy Seth Griffith of the NHL Boston Bruins.

In-season, maintenance of strength and power are critical, but some work capacity work is also necessary to maintain peak fitness. While you can get away with maximal lifts for strength only once every two weeks, work capacity can start to diminish over a matter of days. In-season, bodybuilding methods (3 or 4 sets of 8-12 reps on machines) are an even bigger waste of time than in the off-season. When you’re skating nearly every day, you have to budget both time and energy.

In that sense, too, Ballistic Fitness makes very efficient use of your time. Who can really perform intensely for an hour after 2 hours of hard practice? You’re far better to hit a hard 20-minute WOD, generate the type of endurance and work capacity you want to maintain, and go home.

Ballistic Fitness incorporates a lot of lifts that are critical for athletic development, in set and rep schemes, that are glaringly absent from other programs. For instance, doing several heavy singles is a much better method of developing maximal strength (necessary for power) than doing 3-4 sets of mediocre reps at questionable intensity. And yet, most coaches aren’t confident enough in their own skillset to coach an athlete to a 1RM. Some throw around the ‘safety’ card – but it’s a red herring. Hitting a 1-rep max in the clean, squat, deadlift, press, or pullup isn’t unsafe; it just requires a more in-depth knowledge by a qualified coach who’s been both under the books AND under the bar before. Ballistic Fitness provides that coaching and the workouts to match.

Using Ballistic Fitness coaches in our own program we’ve seen remarkable improvement in work capacity in our athletes. Improved work capacity means more effort in the strength phase, which means more transfer to speed, which means better agility…. built on a solid, planned foundation, Ballistic Fitness coaching is the first step to a much better hockey player.

Sarnia Legionnairs Sign Ballistic Fitness Athlete Nolan DeKoning


"Hey Rod, just wanna let ya know that I signed with the Legionnaires last night! Big summer ahead. Thanks for getting me this far!"



Coach Rod has used this style of training with former Michigan Wolverine All-Star and NFL player David Terrell.



And Olympian Dominique Pegg.



And Tye Belanger of NLL Black Wolves.