The face of face-offs

GREG GURENLIAN trains for peak on-field performance. Getting shredded in the process is an added perk.

CALL IT A COMEBACK Gurenlian suffered an ACL injury in 2011. He posted his entire rehab on YouTube before returning to play in 2012.

GREG GURENLIAN IS MAJOR League Lacrosse’s reigning MVP, and a 6’1″, 225-pound nightmare for opponents during a faceoff. Nicknamed “the Beast,” the Penn State alumnus shattered several league records last season, including the single-season face-off win percentage (73.1%), in helping the N.Y. Lizards capture their third MLL title. (To put Gurenlian’s stats in perspective, the NHL’s faceoff ringer, Jonathan Toews, won just over 58% of his face-offs).

Gurenlian’s position—fighting for possession, passing to the open man, then sprinting off of the field—is the equivalent of “40 mini wrestling matches with 40 sprints a game,” he says. “The beauty of lacrosse is that it’s such a dynamic sport. I don’t think you’d train any differently for lacrosse than you would as a [football] running back—short, fast bursts.”

Despite owning a monster set of arms and a WWE-worthy physique (and moniker), the Beast is less concerned with his appearance and more focused on his strength and endurance. “It’s the biggest misconception, that athletes train for aesthetics,” the MLL veteran says. “If you’re training to be stronger and faster and more flexible, your body is going to look that way be- cause it’s going to get rid of excess.” Gurenlian, has been a member of Team USA in the World Championships; team captain and MVP at Penn State, where he earned a B.S. in kinesiology and served as a strength coach; and he’s also co-founder of The Faceoff Academy, an instructional lacrosse camp for up-andcomers. His skill, he says, is a combo of developing exceptional technique and nervous- system reaction. One is achieved through on-field practice; the other comes in the weight room, primarily with Olympic lifts, kettlebells, and sled work. “I train the entire kinetic chain every workout with sleds—at full speed,” he says. “For years I’ve been training my largest motor units to fire as hard as they can all of the time. That adds up.”

Gurenlian has been recorded by ESPN’s Sport Science as being 7% faster on the face-off than most NHL players, which he credits to sled work. Sleds are training tools he advises future – prospects to utilize. “They’re zero impact and zero eccentric motion,” he explains. “You won’t be sore. We’re trying to get you ready for lacrosse. We don’t want to spend time figuring out how you’re gonna walk the next day.”

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TRAIN LIKE A BEAST

DAY 1

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Unilateral Box Jump 3 10 each leg
Front Squat 2 20
KB Clean & Jerk 3 10 each arm
Pullup 2 20
Bandresisted KB Swing 2 20
Treadmill Sprint 6* 10– 20m

*Add one sprint each week for 12 weeks.

DAY 2

Long Striders (5 x 10 meters);

Sprint-assisted Training (a coach or training partner attaches a band to the front of the athlete and pulls him to increase turnover rate of the hips, 5 x 10m); Sled Sprint (5 x 10m);

Sled Drag (2 x 10m)

DAY 3

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Deadlift 5 1
Band resisted Pushup 2 20
Unilateral Standup 2 10 each leg
Sled Row 2 40 meters
High Pull 2 20
Treadmill Sprint 6* 10– 20m

DAY 4

Alternating Sprints/Stationary Bike Pedal (70 seconds each for a total of 20 minutes)

DAY 5

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Power Clean 5 1
Depth Jump 3 10
Sled Sprint 3 40 meters
Jump Squat 3 10
Reverse Hyper- extension 3 10
Treadmill Sprint 6* 10– 20m
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