AN NHL player's workday consists of intense 45-second shifts. "Sometimes you get an opportunity in the first 10 seconds," says Flames winger Jarome Iginla, "but it could come at the end of your shift. If you're tired, you might miss your chance." That's why the 6'1", 208-pound Iginla, who had 41 goals in 2003--04, spent much of the NHL's 14-month hiatus following a workout meant to build speed, explosiveness and endurance. In the two-hour program, created by Rich Hesketh, Calgary's strength and conditioning coach, he works at maximum output in short bursts. Here's a look at five key exercises.
Five heats; 45 seconds rest after each heat. Hesketh altered the footwork in this football staple to simulate skating. Starting on the right side, Iginla takes a crossover step with his right leg into the ladder, then two more to the left of the ladder. He crosses back through the same rung before moving to the next. "In the stance your [supporting] foot should be directly under your hip," says Hesketh. "There's a big balance component."
Eight to 12 reps; 30-40 seconds rest between sets. Standing on a hard surface 15 feet from Iginla, Hesketh, without warning, drops a tennis ball from shoulder height. Iginla charges forward and catches the ball on one bounce. Hesketh steps one foot back after each rep, until he is 21 feet out--Iginla's maximum range. This drill, Hesketh says, helps develop the hand-eye coordination needed to zero in on loose pucks. It also improves foot speed.
Three sets of 25 jumps; 60-90 seconds. Five three-foot-high hurdles are positioned five to six feet apart. Starting in a squat position, Iginla leapfrogs the first hurdle, keeping his feet hip-width apart. When he lands Iginla holds the squat for two seconds to build power before jumping over the next hurdle. This exercise is meant to increase Iginla's explosiveness.
Two sets of four reps; 45 seconds rest. Bent over in a tuck position, Iginla cradles a 25-pound rock, from a pile on field near his home, between his knees. (Sometimes he uses a 16-pound medicine ball, doing more reps.) In one motion he brings the rock upward and catapults it far behind him. When it is released, his body is extended. "There's some grunting," Iginla says. "The challenge is how fast you go from that tuck to that full position."
Three sets of 20 reps with each leg. Iginla starts in a lunge position, left leg forward. With his left elbow against his left hip, he grips a 35-pound plate, facing straight ahead. He swings the plate forward and up over his head, then holds the position for two seconds. ("Not falling over takes a strong core," Iginla says.) He leads with the right leg to "chop" from the other side. Helps abs, hips, biceps, forearms.
Iginla took in 4,500 calories a day while training, yet still lost eight pounds. He ate small meals and never went more than two hours without eating.
• FIRST BREAKFAST Before training, a bowl of raisin bran.
• SECOND BREAKFAST After training, a protein shake (half cup blueberries, banana, half cup of 1% milk, 50 grams of protein powder, spoonful of peanut butter).
• LUNCH Two buffalo burgers on a bun; lettuce, tomato. Why? "They're leaner than hamburgers," Iginla says.
• SNACK Protein bar (30 grams) and fruit. Over the course of a day Iginla ate 2 1/2 pounds of fruit. "In Kelowna [B.C., where he lives] cherries were everywhere.... That's where I got most of my carbs."
• DINNER Baked halibut, white rice and green beans. "After dinner I'd probably have another protein bar."
• BEFORE BED Protein powder (30 grams) mixed with water.