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Ice Crushing: How To Stay In Shape For Hockey

Speed and endurance rarely go together. Agility and strength can appear to be training goals at odds with each other. Nonetheless, hockey players need all of these components. Yet hockey players frequently spend their off-ice time in pursuit of those attributes in gyms — where they immediately turn into counterproductive, preening bench-pressers.

off season hockey training

High reps and heavy weights can build big muscles. However, you don’t see a lot of body builders lacing up skates in the NHL — where bulk is far less important than explosiveness and controlled power.

Here are a few pointers to get you up and down the ice quicker; keep you upright in the corners longer; and keep you fresher from the first shift to the last.

Get a Program

Choose a plan that works with your schedule and works toward your goals. Realize there are different aims in the offseason and while you’re playing. Be realistic about your schedule and goals.

An in-season regimen — targeting muscles not worked during play, maintaining flexibility and de-emphasizing the rotational moves common to the game — might look something like this (frequency, two to three times per week):

Foam roll your quads, hip flexors, glutes, lats and adductors, approximately 30 seconds on each side.

• Stretch. Concentrate on your thoracic spine (a simple cat/cow movement from beginning yoga will suffice) and legs (hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves).

• Rear foot elevated split squat (3 sets of 5, each side).

• Dumbbell squat jump (3 sets of 4, no more than 20 pounds of resistance).

• Single-arm standing cable press (3 sets of 5, each side).

• Reverse lunge to step-up (3 sets of 4, each side).

• Bear position row (3 sets of 5, each side).

• Medicine ball overhead slams (3 sets of 10).

If you’re not playing a bunch, or your practices are easy, throw in a sprint workout on a bike, treadmill or elliptical once or twice a week. After a five-minute warmup:

• 20-second sprint, 40-second cool down — 5 times

• 10-second sprint, 20-second cool down — 6 times

• 1-minute cool down

• 10-second sprint, 20-second cool down — 4 times

• 1-minute cool down

• 10-second sprint, 20-second cool down — 2 times

• 1-minute cool down

• 20-second sprint, 40-second cool down — 5 times

Offseasons in the Gym

There are endless options, both proven and gimmicky, using basic equipment and the latest machines. Whatever you’re doing, make sure your training covers these essential areas:

Speed — If you can run faster on land, you’ll skate faster on ice. Simple sprint programs like the one outlined above can work wonders.

Strength — Free weight and body weight exercises are best for promoting overall stability.

Coordination — Try running a speed ladder while playing catch with your training partner, or anything else that gets you trying to do two or more exercises at once.

Cardio — Run the bleachers at the rink 20 times or so.

If you want to feel like you’re doing something especially hockey-specific, invest in a slide board. Side to side, mimicking your favorite speed skater, is workout enough. For a challenge, try that slide while both hands support a medicine ball at arm’s length in front of you, or holding a 10- or 20-pound weight in each hand.

Go Flamingo

Training one leg at a time matches the way a player pushes off while skating. Single-leg squats, lateral lunges and slideboard reverse lunges are all commonly used exercises that help lengthen and strengthen a skater’s stride, thus improving a skater’s speed.

But, the big daddy of all single-leg moves is the rear-foot elevated split squat, or Bulgarian split squat. The entry-level variant starts with one foot forward, the other behind. From there, bend the front knee — keeping your chest up — until the rear knee is just above the floor.

The advanced version starts with the toe of your back shoe on an aerobic step or, preferably, a weight bench. Holding dumbbells, perform the move as described above.

Your balance will improve. Your hip flexors, shortened and tightened by the natural skating position, will regain elasticity. With each leg working independently, strength differences between them will diminish. If you work on rising to the most upright position quickly — or, setting aside the dumbbells, even jumping at the top of the motion — explosive power is enhanced.

What to Avoid

Machines — Sure, they make it easier to move fat stacks of plates because you’re not stabilizing the load or the joint moving the load. Strong stabilizing muscles come in handy when your skate hits a rut in the ice or a defenseman tries to check you off the puck. When you’re tempted by the Smith machine, do squats. If you want to work your lats, don’t do pulldowns, do chin-ups. For your chest, bench presses or a standing cable press would be better than a machine chest press. Instead of the leg press machine, do a set of dumbbell split squats.

Mirrors — You’re not training for Mr. Olympia. Those guys work on body parts — chest day, back day, leg day and so on. Your workouts should be broader in nature, incorporating strength and flexibility, and as well as speed and stamina.

Remember, speed, endurance, agility and strength are the keys to staying in great hockey shape. When working in tandem, these attributes can help you excel your game on the ice.

off season hockey training

Author bio: AJ Lee is the Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. Lee picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. He’s an avid Blackhawks fan and is an expert in all things hockey equipment. off season hockey training



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