At 6'9, Chara possesses serious size and strength, making him a near unstoppable force on the ice. Just look at the size difference between him and the smaller player.
Imagine a near 7 foot hockey player whose tough as nails check you into the boards. Well that’s what you get with Zdeno Chara, the tallest NHL hockey player to ever grace the ice. Chara is one of the toughest defenseman in the league, winning the Norris Trophy during the 2008-2009 season. He is also one of the strongest NHL players. At the Bruins strength testing session, he did 31 consecutive wide grip pullups. Chara is known around the league as a workout fanatic. “He is the most driven person I have ever seen to be the best,” his agent, Matt Keator, says.
The 6’9, 255 lb. Chara is known for his discipline and especially when it comes to his nutritional habits. He like his meats lean (ideally, eating rabbit), his potato baked (without any salt, butter, or sour cream), and his veggies steamed (no dressing). He will rarely, if ever, have alcohol (when he does it’s only one glass of red wine, and will only put caffeine into his body once every three weeks with one cup of cappuccino.) Optimal nutrition is essential for peak athletic performance. Chara has a very strict diet regimen and this will only help him in the long run succeed in his sport. Alcohol can lead to dehydration and decreased levels of testosterone, among other problems. Chara is smart to stay away from alcohol, especially during the season.
Chara’s lean and ripped body can be attributed to his strict eating and training regimen. It’s pretty incredible that he has such a lean body for his huge size.
At 6’9, it is extremely difficult to look as lean as him but his healthy lifestyle speaks volumes on the way he looks. Chara is also a big cycling fan and uses it as an additional tool to workout for hours at a time. Cycling puts additional emphasis on the legs and really builds a very strong and durable lower body. He also partakes in Greco-Roman wrestling and the martial art of aikido and has since been dubbed as the most feared fighter in the NHL. Chara says, “No one likes to fight, really, but I understand there are times you have to do it — to stick up for yourself, a teammate, or change the rhythm of a game.”
Chara has built up the reputation of being the hardest worker in the NHL and a lot of that came from his father, who happened to be an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler for 11 years. He says, “My father would say, ‘If you do something, do it right. Don’t do it halfway. Don’t be average.’ No one gave me much of a chance because of my height, but my dad told me, if I could master the basics of gymnastics and acrobatics, I could master hockey as well, because it’s all about being mobile, being able to make use of my explosive power in combination with my height.” Having a role-model like this only added to Chara’s success.
So what does a day in the life of Zdeno Chara look like? He wakes up, has a big breakfast, and then immediately goes to his first of four workouts. Every workout day is different, specifically designed by his trainers to keep him interested and motivated. Consistently changing up your workouts is a great way to prevent muscular adaptation, in addition to keeping things more interesting. You never want your body to adapt and stop making progress so adding variation is essential to maximize muscle and strength. Chara puts in 6-7 hours of training a day, which consists of cardio, weight training, agility exercises, hockey techniques, speed skating drills, film work, and conditioning exercises. Even after games, Chara will workout for an extra hour or two, working until well beyond midnight and keeping his fiancee in the wives’ room waiting for him to finish. Former teammate Marian Hossa of the Ottawa Senators said this about Big Z to NHL.com. “When he arrived in Ottawa, it was work, work, work. No one worked harder than ‘Z.’ He would run up steps in buildings, lift weights, mountain bike — all to build up strength. But his footwork got better and better with all of the lateral stops and starts, quick-twitch exercises he did. Now, he’s a contender for the Norris Trophy each year.”