Being built like Mr. Olympia may prevent your teammates from stuffing you into a locker if you miss the game-winning goal, but it won't guarantee you a wicked slap shot. Much like a softball swing, an effective slap shot relies just as much if not more on mechanics than on the size of your guns. To help you add power to your shot, we asked hockey coach Tim Coghlin, the 2011 Division III Men's Hockey Coach of the Year at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, to tell us about exercises and drills that'll help turn you into an offensive menace.

"Strengthening muscle in the right places is a must for a strong slap shot," Coghlin says. His exercises will strengthen your legs, shoulders, arms, and most importantly, core muscles -- and then his technique suggestions will help you utilize your newfound power.

Woodchoppers are an excellent way to elevate your slap shot power because "they target the core muscles, which are vital to the transfer of power from the lower body to the upper body and into the puck," Coghlin notes. Use a medicine ball, dumbbell, or cable attachment to execute the exercise.
How to do it:
• Stand upright holding the weight above and beside your ear with both hands
• Make a swift but controlled chopping motion by moving the weight from the starting position across your body diagonally, ending near the opposite knee
• Finish the repetition by returning the weight to the starting position by reversing the motion
• Do 3 sets of 10 on each side.

"This is another efficient exercise to strengthen the core muscles responsible for providing a strong slap shot," Coghlin says. Translation: Goalies are screwed.
How to do it:
• Hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest with your arms straight
• Without dropping your arms, pivot on your right foot and rotate the ball and your torso as far as you can to the left
• Reverse direction and pivot on your left foot, rotating all the way to the right. That's one repetition.
• Do 3 sets of 12.

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"Since you can get a lot more power by driving into the shot and utilizing your shoulders, it’s imperative to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles," Coghlin tells us. When doing so, don't try to go all Hulk Hogan to show off how strong you are. The rotator cuff muscles are small and can be tweaked pretty easily, so use light weight.
How to do it:
• Stand or sit on a bench or Swiss ball and hold a dumbbell or cable attachment at shoulder height with your palms facing the floor.
• Bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
• Slowly rotate your arms so they are perpendicular to floor.
• Lower the dumbbells and repeat.
• Do 3 sets of 10.

Practice makes perfect, right? So practice. Drop a bunch of pucks onto the ice and rocket them at a block you set up as a target. This will improve both your shooting accuracy and power. The farther back you drive the block with the puck, the harder your shot is.
How to do it:
• Find a block of wood that's approximately 12 inches square
• Place the block on the blue line — or at a distance you feel comfortable shooting.
• Stand about six feet back and shoot at the target.
• Try to drive the block back as far as possible with the puck
• Do this not just a few times, but a few hundred times.

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At Men's Health, we steer clear of politics, but we are fans of simple approaches that deliver results. Especially when the topic is as complicated as the tax code, or attaining your fitness goals.

So without further ado, the 9-9-9 workout. Now Herman Cain is out of the running as a Republican presidential candidate, so we won't be seeing his 9-9-9 tax plan. But this simple circuit workout of bodyweight exercises, created by David Jack -- performance coach and director of Teamworks Fitness in Acton, Massachusetts -- can help you blast fat and boost your cardiovascular fitness, whether you're on the road or at home, in red states and blue states.

Now that's a winning ticket in any year, not just 2012. (Make sure your diet is a winner, too, with this list of the 125 Best Packaged Foods.)


As with all smart plans, this one comes with a goal. And you'll achieve that goal by taking small steps. In fitness training, we refer to this as progression. Each workout builds on the one before, so that you're working harder each time. That's how you get the results you want. It's not magic; it's science.

Here's how it works: The routine is composed of four classic and simple exercises: body-weight squats, push-ups, inverted rows and jumping jacks. There's nothing fancy here. You'll do these exercises in a circuit, performing one movement after another. And each time you complete all four exercises counts as one round of the circuit. Got it?

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Few exercises have as many working variations as the push-up. Any physical trainer will tell you that integrating medicine balls into the workout will not only create a tremendous challenge, but also deliver extensive results that involve more muscles than the standard push-up.

So perhaps you've worked in a medicine ball during your daily routine. Maybe two. Heck, maybe three. But if you want a challenge that will not only work your shoulders, back and chest, but also every bit of your core, you've got to try this:

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It's immensely difficult, but the challenge alone is what makes it enticing to try. Make sure to place both hands on the front two balls before lifting up your first foot. It can't hurt to have a "spotter" to hold the rear balls in place at first.

Another option is an isometric hold: Stop yourself mid-push-up and hold for 30 seconds. You'll feel your abs, obliques, shoulders, forearms and legs working immediately.

The man working it in the video like it's nothing is Travis Ross, who has a number of videos of routines that you can add to your workout to make it even more extensive and thorough.

And if that's not enough to challenge you, or you still feel like you need more ways to mix it up, check out these other workouts to satisfy your athletic appetite.

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Perhaps your main excuse for not running a 5K is a lack of motivation.

It's too early in the day, you say. Or too monotonous. You hate mindless running. You need a varied workout that takes your mind off the burn. Your friends agree -- the standard distance race is a drag.

If this is the case, there's good (yet potentially terrifying) news: zombies are coming (and not just for Halloween), and you better outrun them.

Run For Your Lives 2011 from Alexander Turoff on Vimeo.

Run For Your Lives is a new kind of 5K, one that will surely keep your mind occupied while it avoids being occupied for a zombie meal. Runners in the 5K face 12 obstacles and a host of "zombies" hellbent on snagging one of two flag football-style flags hanging from each runner's waist. And as if that weren't enough, the course will morph as you move along, giving you options for multiple routes. The result?

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Your 5K could turn into a 10K. Cross the finish line with at least one flag remaining and count yourself among the living/non-infected, and also find yourself eligible for post-race prizes. Finish dead-on-arrival, and enjoy a post-race party without the benefit of prize eligibility.

Could be worse, right? Well, actually, you're dead and you get no prize. But it's probably safe to say you'll never look at a 5K the same way ever again.

As the organizers of the traveling race say, the virus is spreading. Check out their site to see when it's coming to your town.

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If you're sick of doing the same old exercises -- the same old way -- it's probably time to rethink your approach. After years of working at Men's Health, I can tell you: There's never just a single way to do any exercise. In fact, I still learn new movements and methods every week.

Take the classic push-up. Most folks opt for some version of three sets of 10 reps (or 15 or 20). Or they just do as many push-ups as they can. But below, you'll find three easy ways to make this exercise instantly more interesting. And whether you can do 50 pushups or just one, there's a routine for you. Remember: Your workout is only as stale as your imagination. (Want to upgrade your diet, too? Avoid the 10 Worst Fast Food Meals in America.)

If you have trouble doing at least 10 good push-ups ...
Take the number of perfect push-ups you can complete, and divide that in half. Then perform five sets of that number of push-ups, resting 60 seconds between each set. For example, if you did six push-ups in the test, you'll do five sets of three push-ups -- for a total of 15 push-ups. Each workout (do it every four days), deduct five seconds from the rest interval. In theory, after 12 workouts, you'll be down to zero rest between sets -- and able to do 15 push-ups in a row. (It won't necessarily work perfectly, but you'll no doubt be above 10.) At first, it'll seem too easy to be effective. But give it a shot, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Note: If you can't complete at last two standard pushups, then do the same routine, but with your hands on a raised surface -- such as a bench or step -- instead of the floor. This reduces the amount of your body weight you have to lift. (When it comes to your overall fitness, mobility is as important as strength: Check out The Best “Stretch” You’re Not Doing.)

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If you want a super-fast muscle-blast ...
Grab a stopwatch and try this routine. It's designed to quickly improve your upper-body endurance. Time how long it takes you do as many push-ups as you can. Then rest for the same time period, and repeat the process until you can't complete one push-up. So if you do 20 push-ups in 25 seconds, you'll rest 25 seconds, and repeat. Let's say on your next round you complete 12 push-ups in 16 seconds. You'd then rest for 16 seconds before your next set. You can apply this technique to any variation of the exercise you want. (For more variations of this classic exercise, check out 14 Smart Pushup Improvements.)

If you’re ready to take the Men’s Health Push-up Challenge ...
Then take a shot at this very cool ladder workout from fitness expert David Jack. How high can you go? After you find out, try to do better the next time you perform the challenge.

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Does your treadmill workout make you feel like a rat on a wheel? Then it's probably time to change up your routine. And not just because you're bored. "The human body wasn't designed for conveyor-belt training or repetitive, one-dimensional movement," says Dan John, a fitness coach in Burlingame, California, and the author of Never Let Go. So try one of John's novel cardio drills below. Or better yet, try all three. You'll blast fat and improve your fitness quickly. And the best part: You won't have to find ways to distract yourself during these workouts -- you'll be too busy getting in shape.

The "55" workout
Start by doing one body-weight squat and 10 pushups. Rest for 30 seconds, and then do 2 squats and 9 pushups. Gradually work your way up to 10 squats and down to 1 pushup. You'll complete 55 reps of each exercise by the time you're done -- and reap both the cardiovascular benefit of aerobic training and the muscular pump of a strength session. (And if you like this routine, you'll love The World's Most Efficient Workout.)

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10-meter sprints
Find an area in your gym where you can sprint for 10 meters. Once you've covered the distance, pause just long enough to inhale and exhale once through your nose. Sprint back and pause, this time inhaling and exhaling twice through your nose. Continue the drill -- breathing normally as you sprint, and adding an additional nose inhalation and exhalation when you pause -- until you can no longer breathe through your nose. "It takes more effort than breathing through your mouth -- even during rest -- which increases the intensity of the exercise," John says. The result: more gain in less time (and distance) than on a treadmill. (Don't undermine your fitness efforts: Make sure to avoid The Worst “Free” Restaurant Foods in America.)

Jumping-jack pyramid
Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 10 seconds. Rest for an equal amount of time. Next, do as many jumping jacks as you can in 20 seconds, and rest 20 seconds. Then do 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest. Now work your way back down the pyramid (30, 20, 10). Repeat three times. This will change the way you think about jumping jacks forever. And for more than 80 lightning-quick workouts that will get you in shape fast, check out The Men's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts and The Women's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts.

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So you want to look like an athlete? Well, then you need to start training like one.

Yeah, most of us will never have the genetics of an NFL or NBA player, but everyone can start tapping into their genetic potential for muscle and strength with one simple change to your weightlifting routine:

Start working out faster.

That's right: All those times you skipped the gym because you only had 20 or 30 minutes, turns out you could have gotten an ideal workout if you were dedicated to using every single second.

"Lifting or moving quicker will, in general, fire more fast-twitch muscle fibers," says Portland-based trainer Christopher Bathke, "Lifting more explosively is a crucial method if you want to improve in power and or strength."

While sprinting (anaerobic) and long distance running (aerobic) are two different types of cardiovascular work, the fast-twitch principle is another reason why sprinters generally have more muscle than marathoners.

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"If your goal involves improving any type of sport performance," Bathke says, "then naturally you want to train your nervous system and muscles to fire as quickly and efficiently as possible."

No elite athlete goes into the weight room and uses the super-slow method of eight seconds-per-bicep-curl. Of course that doesn't mean you should start flinging the pink dumbbells around wildly as you do your tricep kickbacks. And it doesn't mean form should be sacrificed. It just means that your workout should tire you out -- not just make you sore in 36 hours.

"Think about performing the concentric part of the exercise as quickly and forcefully as possible, provided you can maintain ideal form," Bathke says. "With a chin-up, focus on pulling your chest up to the bar as fast as you can while using strict form and not shrugging your shoulders or swinging your legs."

This will also protect your body by engaging your core and preventing injury. And, not to mention, you'll look better too.

So put your smartphone down and stop sneaking glances at the ladies (or guys). Get moving, get fit, and get out of there.

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When the epic Immortals hits the big-screen this weekend, theater-goers are sure to agree that the film's leading man, Henry Cavill, does indeed have a body worthy of a Greek God. But turns out, the actor was just getting warmed up.

Soon after wrapping Immortals, Cavill began prepping for his role as the next Superman. To become a little more super, he turned to Mark Twight, owner of Gym Jones in Salt Lake City -- the same fitness expert who transformed the cast of 300 into an army of men with washboard abs. Twight uses a punishing training routine called the "tailpipe": a 100-rep workout that'll smoke calories, torch fat, and leave you exhausted (ha!). The tailpipe has two "sides," exercise and recovery, explains Dan John, Twight's colleague and fellow strength coach. "The exercise portion is designed to get you gassed," he says. "but the recovery is just as important."

Twight's tailpipe recovery method: the moment you finish an exercise, calmly take eight controlled breaths in and out of your nose. "Fight the urge to gasp, throw yourself around, or change songs on your ipod," says john. Then immediately start the next exercise. (Another thing you should avoid: The Worst Chicken Dishes in America.)

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Bonus: The tailpipe can also improve your sports performance, John says, because it helps manage "the stress of extreme fatigue." After your final tailpipe recovery, attempt a fundamental sport skill. For example, take three free throws, using three basketballs that you've placed nearby ahead of time. "Become better at dealing with this stress, and you might suddenly find yourself becoming a clutch player."

Use this routine at the end of your regular workout, or as an intense circuit you can do almost anywhere. Perform the exercises in the order shown; a 16-kilogram (35-pound) kettlebell or dumbbell is recommended for the movements that require a weight. (If that's too hard, downsize.) Do 25 reps of each exercise, using the tailpipe recovery technique between each move (and after the last). (For another great lung-busting routine, check out The Spartacus Workout, Men's Health's most popular flab-blasting plan ever.

1. Goblet Squat
Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and stand with your feet just beyond shoulder width. Cup the weight with both hands and hold it vertically next to your chest, your elbows pointing down. Keeping your back naturally arched, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as far as you can. Push yourself back to the starting position and repeat.

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