Hockey Training

Hockey training is very important for any hockey player who is looking to improve their game. Showing up to the rink for practices and games will only get you so far. The best hockey players in the world are constantly training on and off the ice to improve their game.

Here at HockeyTraining.com we will be heavily focusing on the off ice training needed to improve your speed, power, explosiveness, agility and conditioning, but we will always provide some on-ice training tips as well.

There are really two main components to hockey training: the off-season and the in-season. Hockey players will need to train completely differently during these two seasons to allow for maximum performance. Below I will go over how hockey players should be training during each season and what the main focus and goals should be.

Off-Season Hockey Training

Throughout the off-season training system it will be periodized into three separate phases over a 15 week duration, bringing you to peak performance levels right in time for tryouts.

Each phase will be outlined in detail what you will be doing before, during and after the gym and each phase will have a set priority. These priorities are set in a specific order for many reasons so we will only be releasing one phase at a time in 5 week splits to ensure full adherence to the training philosophy.

Here’s what it is going to look like:

Phase 1 Priority: Increase muscle size and strength

Phase 2 Priority: Increase explosive power and speed while continuing progression from phase 1

Phase 3 Priority: Conjugate system to build on and improve all aspects of sport performance and outline specific principles to have you peak for try outs / the in-season

Each system will run you 5 weeks and each system has a specific priority for training adaptations to occur. I say priority because when trying to achieve a desired result we have to prioritize and periodize your training.

You can expect improvements in all of the following during the off season:

Building lean muscle mass
Reducing body fat percentage
Improving testosterone to cortisol ratio
Improving speed, agility and quickness
Neuromuscular enhancement and co-ordination
Injury preventative training
Sport specific training
Improving sport specific endurance
Improving mental performance

These will all be integrated into the systems in the right areas while not negating each others positive training effects. What I mean by that is we can focus on a priority, and still receive 100% benefit from any of the above listed aspects by plugging and implementing it into your training properly.

We want this to be your best off-season ever so every last precaution has been taken into consideration regarding covering all areas of performance and body composition. Through out the whole process, you will be gaining lean muscle mass and dropping body fat percentage because of the advanced nutrition protocol you will be following. I did not include loss of body fat in the priorities because that is mainly a nutritionally orientated goal as opposed to training orientated.

Off-Season Training Description

When constructing an off-season training prescription it’s important to incorporate five phases within the workout in the correct order. Whether it is a pro athlete being taken through an off-season training system or an up and comer, this is the optimal regime for a well rounded in-season training system.

PHASE 1: Balance

Balance training is always done even before the warm-up for a variety of reasons including:

1. Priming the body and mind for the training session.
2. Positive interaction with training partner’s and team mates during partner assisted balance exercises.
3. Training balance in a non-fatigued state.
4. Balance training has been shown in research to increase the neuro-muscular connection between the brain and the skeletal muscles, or what many people know as the “Mind-Muscle Connection”. Doing balance training before a workout to enhance neuro-muscular efficiency will lead to greater performance in the sport specific and weight training movements.
5. Greater mind-muscle connection results in more overall co-ordination and control of all movements. Leading to greater adaptations from exercise but also less risk of injury.

PHASE 2: Dynamic warm up

Dynamic warm ups are much more then just your standard warm up to increase body temperature, they:

1. Train movement and flexibility.
2. Psyche the athlete up for the training session.
3. Increase body temperature leading to an overall increase in performance and decrease risk of injury.
4. Allow synovial fluid to lubricate the joints.
5. Do a much better job overall as a warm up protocol then your standard jog.

PHASE 3: Sport Specific Movement

Sport specific movements are trained prior to the main compound weight lifting movements to enhance overall performance at a faster rate. We are training to become better athletes on and off the ice, not training to look like bodybuilders. That’s not to say strength / size doesn’t play a role in hockey, because it does. But when it comes to prioritizing your training schedule, sport specific movements come first. This is why:

1. Sport specific movements make you a better athlete, period.
2. Positively benefit speed, agility, quickness, high velocity direction change and deceleration.
3. They have the most “Carry Over” effect from the gym floor to the ice.
4. It makes much more sense to train sport specific movements before heavy weight lifting movements because sport specific movements will not tire you out before weight training, but weight training will tire you out before sport specific movements.
5. Weight training based training sessions are better utilized in the off-season to add mass and strength when it is your main priority. In-season your main priority should be performance and staying injury free.

PHASE 4: Resistance Training

Resistance training needs to be kept up 4 times per week to build strength and mass gains in the off season. Weight training is included to the off-season plan to support:

1. Size and strength gains
2. Create muscle insulin sensitivity for proper partitioning of carbohydrates in and out of the gym, or in English, more fuel for muscle as opposed to fat for fat cells.
3. Increase bone density which will help with your lifts and also decrease injury susceptibility.
4. Increase testosterone, growth hormone and many other anabolic pathways in the body.
5. Increase strength, flexibility, stability, power output, speed and endurance.
6. Increase muscle co-ordination and body awareness.

PHASE 5: Recovery

Recovery is just as important as training. Nobody actually grows muscle in the gym, training is only the stimulus for positive physical adaptations but the adaptations will never occur if the nutrients aren’t present to create that change. This phase is especially important during the off-season where we have the time to make the most gains we can. A large decrease in performance will without a doubt be present if you trained legs extremely hard the day before a big game. On the flip side, a decrease in performance will be evident in the gym after a big game. Making it very important to always be in a state of muscle tissue building (anabolic) as opposed to a state of muscle tissue breakdown (catabolic). A proper recovery plan includes:

Post-workout movement.
Foam rolling.
Minimum 7-9hrs sleep every night.
Proper nutritional protocol.
Proper supplementation protocol.

ACTIVE REST AND MOBILITY

Active rest and mobility are important aspects to recovery and injury prevention. The upper and lower body mobility / recovery routines outlined in the post-workout recovery section on your training days should be performed a minimum of 4x per week. This is why on your sample training schedule it is outlined on your training days but also attached to your active rest days.

On the work out days we are more focused on the recovery of the muscle group that was trained that day, so only one of the two mobility routines should be performed based on which day you did. On active rest days, it is best to perform both upper and lower body mobility routines to increase the rate at which you recovery but also to decrease injury susceptibility. These routines increase your flexibility and also release any adhesions in muscle tissue that could cause future injury. It will also accelerate recovery allowing you to feel fresher and more mentally / physically prepared come your next training session.

Active rest is a fantastic recovery tool. For example, every body knows what their legs feel like for the next few days after you have had a very hard lower body workout. Well, there is a lot of lactic acid and other bi products built up in the tissue that cause this inflammation and pain. When you are performing a low intensity activity, such as a fun game of basketball, the fast paced activity allows a lot more blood flow to travel through those legs and actually pull those pain causing products out of there.

What’s even better, is the blood flow through those legs can actually pull the lactic acid out of there, redistribute it to the liver where is it converted back into a form of glucose, or carbohydrate for energy use! So not only are you decreasing your muscle soreness so you won’t be hurting by game day, but you’ll actually be reconverting that soreness into fuel. Which is why it’s very important not to skip out on these days.

Stay active, whatever low intensity activity interests you, do it, it will help you become a better athlete. The key with active rest is don’t do anything that will cause any more soreness, keep it active, but make sure it causes no soreness and doesn’t prolong your recovery from training.

Long story short, active rest / mobility day should be one low intensity activity followed by both of your upper and lower body post-workout mobility routines outlined in the training program. Here are some good examples for active rest:

Hiking
Basketball
Taking the dog to the park
Going for a walk
Swimming
Badminton
Tennis
Squash
Volleyball

OFF SEASON CONDITIONING

There are many options out there for different types of conditioning. The best options are:

Prowler pushes / sprints
Hill sprints
Weighted sled sprints
Sprints

DO NOT DO LONG DURATION, STEADY STATE AEROBIC WORK

It will not make you a better athlete. It will make you a weaker, smaller athlete. I don’t think anyone buying this program’s initial goals were to become smaller and weaker. Take a look at the difference in physiques between a world class sprinter and a world class marathon runner. You tell me what kind of athlete you want to be? When it comes to short duration, high intensity training versus long duration low intensity training (such as jogging, biking), it’s no competition.

Let’s take a look at them side by side.

High intensity interval training:

  • Increases muscle mass
  • Trains the ATP PcR energy system that hockey players primarily use
  • Burns more fat
  • Anabolic
  • Heightens metabolism long after conditioning is over
  • Takes less time
  • Increases testosterone and other anabolic hormones

Low intensity, long duration aerobic work:

  •  Increases muscle tissue breakdown
  • Does not train the primary energy system hockey players need to increase performance
  • Burns less fat
  • Catabolic
  • Heightens metabolism only during the duration of the activity
  • Takes more time
  • Increases stress hormone cortisol, therefore decreasing overall testosterone

As you can see, unless long duration steady state aerobic work is in your sport of choice and you need to train for it; such as cycling, marathon running, endurance swimming etc. Then there is really no need for it. Hockey player need to focus on hard, serious conditioning to improve their game because that’s where their bodies need to improve. Marathon runner’s are operating mainly off of their aerobic energy system, where as hockey players are operating off of their anaerobic system. To be as sport specific as possible and to also improve hockey performance to the peak of your ability you need to have a strong and efficient anaerobic energy system.

TRAINING:

40-yard prowler pushes: As many as possible in a 20 minute period.

Hill sprints: As many as possible in a 20 minute period.

40-yard sled sprints: As many as possible in a 20 minute period.

40 yard sprints: As many as possible in a 20 minute period.

Yes, it’s that simple. It’s a 20 minute, all out intensity period. Track your progress and each week try and beat the week before. For example, you ran 20 hills in 20 minutes last week, shoot for 25 this week.

Conditioning can not be overlooked, and no, playing a rec game of basketball or hockey doesn’t count as a conditioning day. These separate conditioning days is what is going to separate you from the pack. You will be in that much better shape then the other guys on the ice still feeling 100% late into the third period come the new season. Do not skip these days!

In-Season Hockey Training

Off-season training has much more play-room in the amount of time you have to gain a certain quality from a training phase. For example you can work 3 weeks exclusively on endurance, or 8 weeks exclusively on power output, and so on.

In this scenario, you have as much time to play around with your program design as much as you want to meet your individual needs.

In-season we don’t have that type of luxury. In-season, our main objective is to maintain everything that you earned in the off-season and progress on any area that we can while keeping you healthy, injury free and full of energy for your games. This means keeping up your strength, size, power output, aerobic / anaerobic capacity and agility all within the same system.

This can only be done with professionally designed training program and periodization. Periodization is science behind the order in which your phases come and the primary focuses of each phase. Proper periodization drives training phases to benefit from going one to the other, as opposed to random selection.

This is a big problem most people endure. They pick which training plan they want to run next. As opposed to having a systematic order proven by science to bring continuous improvement from week to week. Picking random programs is what we call “pinballing” between plans because it’s random selection with no real targeted outcome.

Whereas periodization takes all of the “unknown” right out of it and it is truly periodization that separates which athletes are training and which athletes are just exercising. Let’s take a look at the definition of each:

Training: The process of producing a specific physical adaptation over time. Workouts are the constituent components of a training program; exercises are the constituent components of a workout. Workouts within a training program are important because of the effect they have on the process. Strength training is the process by which an increase in force production capacity is developed.

Exercise: Physical activity done for the effect it produces today, e.g. hot, sweaty, tired, and sore. A workout done to make oneself feel productive, just because the workout got done. Not to be confused with an exercise, which is a movement pattern done within a workout. Exercise is just fine for non-athletes.

There’s a big difference here.

With training you’re targeted, and when you’re targeted you improve your performance on the ice. Which is why the proper periodized strength training is the best method to utilize while training during the competitive season.

Properly incorporating all athletic training adaptations into one well designed unit so it is not segmented into different phases. This is important because in-season you are much more susceptible to losing off-season progress which is why we have to train all methods to maintain and improve.

Training all methods includes using a wide variety of exercises, movements, rep ranges and overall training volume. The workouts are designed to incorporate all off-season training phases into one system plus a few new tricks up my sleeve to keep you at peak performance for the whole season as opposed to just dropping training once the season starts and slowly digressing from your athletic potential.

For the purpose of understanding your periodization and our primary goals, here’s an outline of a professional hockey strength coaches point of view on to how to best optimize hockey performance from a goal setting perspective in the gym.

OFFICIAL AND LEAGUE COMPETITIONS

SPEED
• Sport-Specific preparations
• Specific speed
• Agility
• Reactive agility

STRENGTH
• Maximal strength
• Conversion of power
• Maintenance and improvement of muscle mass and both power and strength

MENTAL TRAINING
• Mental skills to cope with opponents
• Stress management
• Relaxation
• Mental rehearsal
• Motivation
• Positive self-talk

NUTRITION
• Fluctuates according to competitive schedule and team travel
• Moderate protein
• High carbohydrate
• Moderate fat
• Targeted, research proven performance enhancing supplementation