Wednesday, 28 October 2015

What To Do About In-Season Training For Hockey

By : Lorne Goldenberg BPE, CSCS, CEP

High Performance Director
UPMC High Performance Center
UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
Cranberry, PA

This article will deal with a topic that may help many of you right now. In-season conditioning is a key element to the total package for the successful hockey player, yet many players are unsure how to train during the season, or if there is really any benefit at all to it.

For many years strength coaches advocated that coming to training camp in shape, and trying to maintain that condition was the key to success. One particular strength coach actually used the following graph to emphasize conditioning maintenance:

The point was that if you showed up to camp in shape, you could do just enough work to maintain it during the season. Then by the playoffs, your technical skill will have peaked, and will meet your high level of conditioning. Therefore you would be physically and technically ready for the playoffs. This Technical model has been used for years. In many cases with some Skill success. The question you have to ask though is: what if you could increase your conditioning level even higher than it was at training camp. Some people would not advocate this type of concept. Many people of the "old school" do not believe Training Playoffs there is a place for off-ice conditioning during the season. Camp This is unfortunate because it has been my experience that speed, strength, power, quickness, and aerobic endurance can be improved during the season with off-ice training.

This is even more possible for the player who may report to camp out of shape. By participating in 2-3 off-ice workouts a week, you can expect to see very positive gains in all aspects of conditioning levels. Nevertheless, regardless of your level of condition, you should continue off-ice workouts in-season. As minor hockey players this is your way of obtaining an advantage over your opponents who may not be training.

Now that you understand the reason to continue off-ice training, lets look at the acute variables that will assist you in continuing your physical improvements. Strength is one area that people are very unsure about. Many are concerned that if you strength train to soon before a game, you will not recover in time to play. This will only occur if you perform the wrong type of workout, meaning by performing high repetition lifts. An example would be doing leg presses or squats for sets of 8-12 reps. This type of scheme will cause fatigue. The fatigue is actually caused by lactic acid, which is a metabolic byproduct of this type of exercise. The way to avoid this and to work on your strength would be to use reps in the 2-6 range. This would mean using a much heavier weight, which will develop strength, and allow you to recover in time for your game. The best example I can provide would be the type of workout that I had Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche on during the 1994/95 season. Joe would use the following workout the day before a game or occasionally the morning of the game:
  1. Warm-up - Cycle 5 minutes, and stretch
  2. Lateral hops over box - 2 sets of 12 foot contacts
  3. Hang cleans - 3 sets of 6 at @ 95 pounds
  4. Squat - 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps @ 322 pounds
  5. Bench press - 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps @ 252 pounds
  6. Hyperextension - 2 sets of 8-10 reps with a 35 pound plate
Obviously you would not use weights this heavy. But it should give you an idea with regard to training intensity.

You may have noticed that most of this article has focused on the physical component strength. The other physical capabilities are more easily developed or maintained on the ice as it pertains to in-season work. As far as strength goes, the only way to enhance it, is to overload the muscle. This can only be done efficiently in the weight room. A lack of strength will also affect your injury potential. This means that your joints may be more susceptible to injury, if the surrounding muscles have lost size and strength. The other benefit to working on your strength is it will also have a positive effect on your speed, and power.

As a hockey player there are many challenges that you will face in physically preparing yourself for the game. In-season conditioning can be one of the most demanding aspects of your training calendar. This is especially so when you are trying to juggle school, practices, games, and social life. It takes careful planning but is very achievable.