Size vs. Strength

One thing I used to hear from a lot of hockey players is “my legs are big enough.”

In most cases, this was the player’s way of saying “lower body training is hard, and I don’t want to do it” but aside from the laziness, there’s a misconception that bigger means stronger.

Muscle size relates to the strength POTENTIAL, but a significant portion of strength is driven by the nervous system – in terms of improving coordination, maximizing activation, and minimizing inhibition.

In other words, for any given size, strength can vary widely; so strength training is important to maximize the ability to produce force REGARDLESS of whether gaining muscle is a priority.

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A post shared by Kevin Neeld, PhD (@kevinneeld)

There are 2 things that I love about this video:

1️⃣ Kyle hits an easy 3 reps at 205 at a body weight ~165lbs early in the off-season while he was in college. His relative strength was a key factor in his speed development.

2️⃣ When most players suffer an injury, they’re told to take time off while it heals. Kyle was back in the gym as soon as he got his cast put on, focusing on what he COULD do, instead of what he couldn’t. It’s this drive/leadership that lead to him becoming the first 2-time captain at Harvard since 1923.

As more and more team sport athletes prioritize speed development, improving relative strength should be a foundational training target.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re interested in year-round comprehensive hockey-specific training programs for players at different ages, check out Ultimate Hockey Transformation.

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