Steve Martins knew long ago that he would have to be strong if he was going to forge a long professional hockey career. Standing five-foot-nine-inches, the young forward knew he would need every edge he could get.
Now entering his eleventh professional season, the 33-year-old Martins can still skate circles around players a decade younger thanks to a commitment to conditioning and a mental approach that gives the Senator a leg up on the competition.
“As a shorter player, I always wanted to be considered short, not small,” said Martins. “I have made a commitment to putting time in the weight room. I have come into camp in better shape than most players just because I need that extra edge being a shorter player.”
His summers are spent in suburban Chicago enjoying life with his family, that includes a 20-month-old son, and hitting the gym each morning. A typical early summer workout begins in the morning with a thirty-minute bike ride, several upper body strength exercises, sprints, stretching and cord work. Once camp approaches, Martins steps up the intensity and adds an afternoon or evening skate with several other professional hockey players in the Chicago area.
While his workout sessions typically last two hours, according to Martins, there is more than time that goes into creating an imposing physique. “It is not so much a matter of time, but a matter of focus and doing the exercises well.”
“Some guys do well in certain aspects (of fitness testing), but he is among the top ranked players on the team in all aspects especially strength, speed and explosion,” said Ottawa Senators conditioning coach Randy Lee. “His conditioning helps on the ice where he is tough to knock off the puck and has explosive speed.”
Martins, at 185 pounds, is also among the strongest players in the Senators’ organization; he lifted more weight on the bench press than any other Ottawa or Binghamton Senator. But it is more than just his work ethic in the weight room that has him prepared come October.
Martins, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University, says that getting away from hockey and having hobbies outside of the sport clears his mind and helps him come to the rink every day ready to go.
“Part of being physically conditioned is being ready and coming to the rink with a clean slate,” said Martins. “So I have tried to do that off the ice and when I come in I am well rested mentally as well as physically.”
And as one might expect, that combination of physical and mental preparation has served Martins well in the early going this season. He enters the fourth week of play leading the Sens with six points (2 goals, 4 assists).