Diet, training regimen have Subban in peak condition
TORONTO -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban reads off his breakfast menu without a single change in his facial expression. For him, barbecuing a steak at 7 a.m. and pairing it with freshly blended vegetable juice, fish oils, Vitamin C and various other multivitamins is absolutely normal.
"I eat a lot of protein -- steak in the morning, steak in the afternoon, fish, chicken," Subban told NHL.com during a recent trip to his training facility. "At the start of the summer I order a whole cow from a grain-fed farm. I have it at my parents' house and my mom will season [the butchered meat], and I'll pick them up to have steaks for the week."
Jokes aside, Subban actually does eat the whole cow he orders each summer.
It's all part of a nutrition plan designed for him by his personal trainer, Clance Laylor, who has eliminated all grain, wheat and dairy products from Subban's summer diet.
"He doesn't tolerate carbs very well; meaning he eats carbs and he gets fat," Laylor told NHL.com. "It's pretty much meat and vegetables, healthy fats, and that's what really helps P.K. get rid of the excess fat. As the phases go on, we start to implement good carbs into his diet, good starches. Still no wheat and no grains, but we like good starches like yams. There are no breads, no pastas."
Subban and Laylor are working together for their fourth straight summer in a partnership that formed when they were introduced to each other at a family reunion. Laylor, who is married to Subban's cousin, is the defenseman's summer body coach and his in-season adviser.
Subban said he can't fathom a world in which he doesn't communicate regularly with Laylor and see him at least eight times a week in the offseason.
Since Subban started on Laylor's program, designed specifically for the Canadiens defenseman, he has developed confidence going into the corners both with and without the puck, a sturdiness in front of the net, more power in his skating stride, and some extra blast in his slap shot.
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"I think last year people realized how strong he is," Laylor said. "I think people took him for a skill guy, but last year they got a sense that he can pack a wallop and hold his own on the ice."
Subban came into the NHL with swagger, but now it is backed up by results -- and he'll be the first to say it all starts in Laylor's unassuming gym on the edge of Clarence Square, a 10-minute walk from Air Canada Centre.
"The one thing that is so tough to find in a trainer nowadays is finding someone that has a personal interest in seeing you be successful," Subban said. "There are a lot of trainers out there that are only about the $5,000 that they're going to get at the start of the summer and the other $5,000 they're going to get at the end of the summer. That's all they care about, and if you're in half-decent shape that means they've done their job. That's not the case with us. Clance wants to see me do well because we have that personal relationship. It's family."
After he lets the steak and vegetable juice digest, Subban makes his way around the corner to Laylor's gym. He is renting an apartment nearby in order to be close to his training facility, his summer office.
It's the first of two training sessions he'll have on this day. They're working on his upper body and the session lasts about 90 minutes. It is specific to all of Subban's needs.
"It's his strength, size, power, first-step power in terms of explosiveness. He's a guy that has to put his body on people and I have to make sure he's ready for that," Laylor said. "When he goes into the corner with the puck, I want him to come out with the puck. He has a style where he can move you out of the way, and he developed that with lateral strength, one-arm strength. He has a very strong upper body."
Laylor said Subban's strength and his power have grown exponentially since the summer of 2010, when he was training to make the Canadiens' final roster out of camp.
Subban said he is now up to 220 pounds (he played last season listed at 206 pounds) mainly because he and Laylor have been working out together since the second week of May -- the earliest they have started the grueling offseason regimen.
On Mondays, Subban is in the gym in the morning and doing field training later in the afternoon. Tuesday features more morning gym work and an afternoon on-ice session. Subban trains twice with Laylor on Wednesday, once on Thursday, twice on Friday and takes Saturday off. Sunday nights, Subban plays in a pickup game with several other NHLers -- including New York Islanders center John Tavares and Buffalo Sabres center Cody Hodgson.
"When he goes into the corner with the puck, I want him to come out with the puck. He has a style where he can move you out of the way, and he developed that with lateral strength, one-arm strength. He has a very strong upper body." -- Clance Laylor, personal trainer to Habs' defenseman P.K. Subban
The downtown workers heading to lunch may occasionally find Subban out on Spadina Avenue pulling or pushing sleds. He'll draw a crowd -- and some, especially Toronto Maple Leafs fans, may shout out a few things in Subban's direction -- but the training never stops. Subban's focus never strays from the task at hand.
"Hey, everyone wants to look good when they take their shirt off," Laylor said. "Once they get a taste of that, that usually becomes their motivator, and on top of that they can feel their performance getting better."
Laylor is with Subban every step of the way -- coaching, motivating, pushing. He runs a small business and Subban is his biggest client (Joel Ward has now started to work out with Laylor as well), but fame and money come at a price.
Subban is paying the freight with the unpretentious lifestyle he adopts each summer.
"People only see the benefits of what we get -- the money we make, being on TV, the endorsement deals -- but they don't see the work that goes in behind it," Subban said. "People always say to me, 'You're training too much,' and I'm like, 'No, I'm not, I'm training as much as I can to get ready for the season because of the grind of 82 games.' Some people don't understand that grind.
"Even if you have a ton of skill and a ton of talent, what separates the players now is the work they put in in the offseason."