Talking fitness, hockey, and more with Brenden Dillon

I recently caught up with Dallas Stars defenseman and Surrey, BC’s Brenden Dillon. We talked fitness, nutrition, the Stars, his homecoming game in Vancouver, and a lot more. The Dallas Stars-focused part of the interview has been published at DefendingBigD.

I first talked to Brenden last summer after publishing this column: Brenden Dillon: the Next Big D in Big D?. In our interview, he expressed his desire to come to camp and compete for a roster spot in Dallas for the 2012-13 season. Training camp was delayed until January due to the lockout, but Brenden did more than compete for a spot – he quickly emerged as arguably the best defenseman on the Dallas roster.

Angus: So are you training at Impact Hockey for the rest of the summer?

Yeah, I’ve been at Impact here in Surrey, and over at Fortius in Burnaby. I have done a bunch of body work, core stuff, and corrective stuff over there.

What did you play at last year? 220?

Around 220 , yeah. I still want to be able to skate. 225 would be my max.

Do you notice a big difference with five pounds?

Yeah I can. To be honest I think I played more with Dallas than in Austin. They didn’t clock your time in Austin, but it felt like I was moving and skating more in the NHL.

The pace of play is so different in the NHL compared to the AHL, too.

I think that is probably why, yeah.

What was it like playing against the Sedins? You had seem them a lot growing up. 

You can’t be too aggressive on them. If they get the puck on the half wall or coming in on the rush, you can’t go right at them. Even if they do pass it, you can’t watch the pass, because all they need is that second and a half to get open again.

Fans in Vancouver are so spoiled with them. When they retire, the team is really going to miss them.

They are unbelievable. And look at some of the other guys. As much as Kesler gets criticized at times, he’s one of the better two-way forwards in the league. Alex Edler does it all on the back end, too.

So what was training with Gary Roberts last summer like? 

It was awesome. A chance to be in there with Roberts and Lorne Goldenberg. And the guys that were in there. There was a lot of 1-on-1 work. Hockey specific stuff. You are in there for an hour and a half, straight work time. I always warmed up and cooled down, but with them you are really focusing in.

Has nutrition always been a focus for you?

I have always tried to eat pretty healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had McDonald’s or anything like that. Going out to Toronto with Roberts, you have your meals prepared for you after every workout, so you learn ways to spice cooking up a bit.

So you don’t have to eat plain chicken breasts forever.

Exactly. You had your quinoa salads, or certain types of oatmeal.

What is the big thing with gluten and gluten free diets now?

A lot of people have a varying degree of reactions to gluten. At one extreme are celiacs – people who can’t process gluten, and at the other end people have minimal reactions to gluten. I personally don’t eat a ton of gluten. I just feel better without it.

It’s like anything in fitness, everyone goes to an extreme for something. Gluten-free is this thing now… people associate gluten-free with healthy, which is wrong. A lot of foods that don’t contain gluten (meat, vegetables, fruit) are good for you, but the absence of gluten doesn’t imply good health in all cases.

Yeah, you hear people saying that they are gluten free, but if you aren’t allergic to it, what is the reason behind it?

A lot of it is people just creating diet changes. It’s not rocket science. If you eat mostly whole foods, you will be good. The tough thing with nutrition is discipline. People know what they need to eat, but actually doing it is the hard part.

You have been at Impact Hockey for a number of years now.

I love it there. I started before I was 16, I wasn’t even in the WHL yet.

And now…

Five years ago was my first year in Seattle. I remember going to WHL games with my dad, when the Vancouver Giants were really good. I was 15, and I thought it would be so cool to play in the WHL one day.

What’s a typical day in the gym like for you?

I do my rolling or warm up. And depending on the day, if it’s a leg day or an upper body day, I go through the exercises. The main focus in Toronto with Gary Roberts was to be more efficient. You can get a lot of work done in an hour. Its not about going in and squatting 500 pounds.

Again, check out the rest of the interview over at DefendingBigD.

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