Story by: Erika Vidal Holmes
Center Steven Stamkos was the No. 1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008 and came to town with all the hype and high expectations. The 18-year-old Canadian took the league by storm and remains one of the top players in the world. It got us thinking about his 2009 interview for the cover story in South Tampa Magazine. In an exclusive interview with writer Erika Holmes, Stamkos talked about his sophomore campaign and his rigorous workout regimen at the then-St. Pete Times Forum.
Enjoy the first of many Feature Flashbacks with one of the Lightning’s finest:
BREAKAWAY or TRAINING DAYS
With the help of retired Tampa Bay Lightning left-winger Gary Roberts, second-year player Steven Stamkos gained 8 pounds of muscle last summer.
A lot of 19-year-old guys spent the better part of last summer sleeping in, lounging around and playing the latest version of Guitar Hero.
But Steven Stamkos is no ordinary 19-year-old.
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid from Canada was not only the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, he set a team rookie record by scoring 23 goals in his first season.
And he hopes that’s only the start.
Focused on building off that success, the hard-working Stamkos spent the summer with only one thing on his mind: getting better.
With the help of retired Tampa Bay Lightning left-winger, Gary Roberts, Stamkos put on 8 pounds of muscle. Roberts, 43, is known in the NHL as a fitness freak and guru.
“Everyone in the league knows that,” says Stamkos.
The former teammates became friends last season, and they live near each other in the Ontario area. Stamkos spent the summer working out in Roberts’ personal gym.
Days before the season opener, Stamkos sat down with South Tampa Magazine after an early-afternoon workout and shared the details of his intense summer regimen.
At what point did you decide that you were going to spend the summer working out and bulking up?
I think toward the end of last season. I really get to know Gary [Roberts] as a person and create that friendship. That really opened the door to him inviting me to his house pretty much every day in the summer and training me and working with his trainer, Lorne Goldenberg. To work with him and Gary in the summer was pretty cool and tough at the same time, but it was what I really needed.
What was a typical workout for you?
At 9 a.m. I’d be at his house, and depending on which day of the week it was, four days a week in the gym and two days doing sprints or some sort of cardio. So it was six days a week, and to have that one off day was pretty rewarding. The workouts were pretty intense, but at the same time, Gary, being a former player, knows how your body feels on certain days, and if I wasn’t feeling great, he’d lighten the mode up. I’d still get a workout in; I was efficient, but it wouldn’t be killing me to a point where I wouldn’t be able to come in the next day and really progress throughout the summer.
I heard you did some non-traditional hockey training, like soccer.
I heard that the other day, too, and I don’t know where that came from [laughs]. I played a bunch of sports as a kid, but this summer I didn’t really. I did sprints while pulling a sled. I don’t know how traditional that was.
Were you on a special nutrition plan?
Because my metabolism is so fast, I needed to take in a lot of calories in order to maintain weight, and I wanted to gain some muscle too. Lots of shakes — Gary is known for his nutritional protein shakes, so after the workout he’d always have something made up for me and ready to go which was pretty good for me. He’s big on organic food. He got me eating some bison meat and organic turkey meat and organic fruits and vegetables.
Did you ever cheat and get fast food or anything like that?
Maybe once or twice. I think I cheated a couple times, but you gotta have those cheat days. For the most part, I was definitely a lot better than I have been in previous summers.
If you say, “OK, I’m going to cheat big time today,” what do you eat?
I think a Big Mac. Probably the worst food to have as my guilty pleasure, but it’s so good. I don’t know if there’s a secret sauce or something.
Did you guys listen to music while you worked out?
Stamkos: Gary has his iPod [hooked up] to the gym so I was kinda listening to some old school ’70s and ’80s. It’s a little over my head. I was born in the ’90s, so… I listened to some of the old stuff, but for the most part I just really focused on working out.
Was lifting weights a new thing or have you always done it?
This summer it was really more of moving a certain load or weight, but quickly. Especially in the NHL, you want to be quick and fast and exercise those fast-twitch muscles. A lot of guys are hung up on lifting really heavy loads and trying to bulk up. That’s not my game. I want to be fast. I want to be quick and win races to the puck. I think it paid off. I came into camp and I could feel I’m a lot faster and a lot quicker.
Have your friends and family noticed the difference?
Oh, for sure. I’ve gotten a lot leaner and more muscular. We did measurements before and then we did it after. I think I gained 8 pounds of muscle and lost 4 pounds of fat. I think my body fat percentage went down 2 or 3 percent from the start of the summer, so you can definitely tell a difference, I can feel it in my body. It’s something I’m hoping to carry on every summer and get a chance to work with Gary.
Do you feel more confident going into this season?
Yeah, I think just having played a year in general, I have a lot more confidence heading into the season. I know how hard I worked and I know who I worked with is really well-respected. He played for a long time, so he knows what it takes. There’s definitely a confidence factor there of being in the right hands [of] someone who you can try to follow in their footsteps.