Hockey Workout – How To Set It Up

When you are creating a workout for hockey performance, it must fall within the “big picture” plan for the entire years worth of training.

A workout will only ever be as effective as its implementation within the entire system, and within a hockey training system, a workout is actually the smallest fraction.

Your vision must be large enough to understand that a training year is made up of training blocks, training blocks are then broken down into training cycles, training cycles are then broken down into training weeks, training weeks are then broken down into training days, and training days are broken down into training sessions.

Your hockey workout is the smallest possible unit within your off-season and in-season periodization, as it will only last 30-120 minutes.

Within this article, I want to break down the specifics of how a hockey workout should be structured, and although these recommendations should never be written in stone (since context of a certain situation can change everything), it is a good idea to acknowledge everything I am about to say and fine-tune it for your exact needs.

Time vs. Effort

At Hockey Training, I always hear about athletes going through 2 or 3 hour sessions.

Even worse, sometimes it’s the coaches telling me that they have their athletes perform multiple workouts within this 2 or 3 hour window.

When somebody tells me they have been training for three hours, I can only think:

What the heck could you possibly be doing for 2-3 hours?

My opinion is that it’s a whole lot of talking, watching TV, scrolling the phone, and just a bunch of general BS.

There is no way someone can train hard for that amount of time, not even the pro’s. I have trained some of the baddest athletes on the planet in the UFC, NFL, NHL, and MLB — and they NEVER train this long because we don’t waste time doing garbage in the gym.

These exaggerated sessions rarely ever happen in professional strength and conditioning because you’re only ever allotted 60 minutes to work with your client each session.

So, outside of the few coaches who enjoy talking and looking at themselves in the mirror — real training sessions are normally straight to the point and excellent in terms of intensity and return on investment per unit of time spent in the gym.

My Hockey Training Philosophy

Here at Hockey Training, I don’t think any session should last longer than 75 minutes.

If it’s any longer than that, then we are sacrificing the necessary intensity that should be taking place in order to get you the best possible results.

All training sessions should be kept to less than 75 minutes, but more ideally 45-60 minutes.

From a training specificity perspective, everything that a hockey athlete goes through is in short intense burst of highly energy-costly effort, and not long duration moderate intensity effort.

Think about it, that third period has made cowards of many hockey athletes.

The reason why this happens is because of the repetitive nature of short high-intensity bouts of effort repeated with incomplete recovery (sounds a whole lot like a hockey shift to me).

If you total up the amount of high-intensity work during a hockey game, it is almost always expressed in terms of minutes, even when it’s spread over the course of two hours.

We already know this for sure from time-motion analysis research done on NHL athletes, so since this is the case, what the heck are these athletes doing for 3 hours again?

One hour is PLENTY of time to get the job done.

In fact, that one hour also includes your warm-up and cool-down, so it’s really only 40-50 minutes that you need in order to crush a highly effective workout.

The intensities hit during a training session designed by myself are designed to exceed what you will run into out on the ice.

Essentially, if you can do the programming here at Hockey Training, you will cruise through and dominate the athletes that you will run into out on the ice. Sweat in practice and you’ll never bleed in battle.

The Standard Hockey Workout Template

Now that I have set the standard of the time and intensity required to perform an effective hockey workout, let’s look at the most commonly accepted structure of a hockey workout.

Some of the common guidelines still have an impact on how I design my programs, but with the level of experience I have now by running tens of thousands of hockey athletes through my programming, I also now lean heavily on what I KNOW works, and not just what’s commonly accepted online.

It’s commonplace thinking to see three distinct elements within a workout:

The Warm Up: Typically designed to warm the body up, enhance metabolic and neurological processes, and increase the mobility of joints and muscles of the body prior to an activity.

The Workout: This is the main focus of the training session and it is within this section that the proper stimulus is applied to the muscles to gain the result you desire (strength, speed, conditioning, muscle building, etc.)

The Cool Down: This is where athletes use certain techniques to calm down and return their body into a state that optimizes recovery.

When you’re looking at that workout structure, it’s pretty easy to agree and get on board with everything that’s there.

However, the lines that separate those three elements can easily be blurred in order to get a better effect if you are using more advanced techniques.

The Traditional Approach (Don’t Do This)

The Warm Up (10 minutes): Pick a random cardio machine and do 5-10 minutes on it and a few random stretches at 3 x 30 seconds each.

The Workout (40 minutes): Resistance training.

The Cool Down (10 minutes): Pick a few more random stretches at 3 x 30 seconds each.

In that above workout, the lines drawn between the warm-up, workout, and cool-down and very clear and distinct.

But, what happens when you start using more advanced techniques to get more bang for your buck out of each training session?

Example HockeyTraining.com Workout

Look below and have a look at an example Hockey Training workout taken from our Men’s League Annihilation Program:

Jumping jacks x 30
T-Stab push ups x 6/side
Arm circles x 12/direction
Straight arm rotations x 8/side
Single-leg hip circle x 12/direction/leg
Zombie squat with reach through x 8
Shoulder T x 15
Zombie lateral lunge x 5/side

25-yard sprint 5 x 1
Trap bar deadlift 5 x 2-3
Inchworms 5 x 10
One-leg one-arm DB Romanian deadlift 3 x 10/side
DB Renegade row 3 x 10/side
DB Russian Step ups 3 x 15/side
Reverse crunches 3 x 15
Glute-ham raise 3 x 8
Seated calf raise 3 x 15

A-Skips 10 yds there and back
B-Skips 10 yds there and back
Carioca 10 yds there and back
Split squats x 10/leg
T-stands x 6/leg
Deep Breathing x 2 minutes

This training session is a highly advanced program that provides the Men’s League hockey athletes everything they need to improve performance, yet there is no “traditional” warm-up or cool down.

Where are the random stretches?

Where’s the 5-minute walk on the treadmill?

Don’t look for traditionalism within a well-designed hockey workout because you won’t find it there.

Yet, the preparation, techniques, intensity, flexibility, speed, and conditioning are all there.

I’ve been using this type of approach for a long time now, and to this day, I have had zero injuries with my athletes and they obtain phenomenal results both on and off the ice.

Why The “Traditional” Workout Structure Doesn’t Workout

Here’s a second look at the traditional model for hockey training:

The Warm Up (10 minutes): Pick a random cardio machine and do 5-10 minutes on it and a few random stretches at 3 x 30 seconds each.

The Workout (40 minutes): Resistance training.

The Cool Down (10 minutes): Pick a few more random stretches at 3 x 30 seconds each.

And sometimes on top of this, a meaningless add-on for 30-60 minutes of aerobic work will be included.

Although you can get results from this type of approach, it also burns away 10-20 minutes of your time within the warm-up and cool-down sections doing things that aren’t getting you your best return on investment.

Put another way, in a one-hour session, you’re spending 30% of your time doing things that aren’t driving your hockey performance forward in the most efficient way.

Think about it…

This means after one month of training, an entire week was dedicated to just your warm-up and cool down.

Even worse, if you do this for a year you have spent up to four months of your training time doing these suboptimal routines.

Don’t get me wrong, warm-ups and cool downs are important, but only if you do them correctly.

When you do, you can create an integrated approach where it all blends in together, and each component of the workout is clearly working towards something significant and meaningful for hockey performance.

Put another way, don’t just design workouts to be effective, because the warm-up and cool down can and should contain productive movements that do more than just warm-up or cool down a hockey athlete.

The HockeyTraining.com Training Template (Use This!)

The Warm-up

Going against the grain, I want to remind everybody that when you look at the research — a warm-up in no way needs to be this super light aerobically structured event.

Who started that anyway?

At HockeyTraining.com, we use warm-up methods that some athletes would consider a workout.

So long as you don’t start too hard or explosive in the beginning, people are capable of engaging in difficult dynamic work that accomplishes everything (and more) that a warm-up should accomplish while simultaneously being much more psychologically engaging than the same old boring routines that have been used for decades.

To make things very simple, make the warm-up purposeful and meaningful and throw out the junk work.

At HockeyTraining.com, I skip all the aerobic work and put our athletes right into total body warm-ups using bodyweight movements, and sometimes incorporating equipment such as medicine balls and bands wherever necessary.

The typical sequence normally involves 3-8 exercises strung together to create a total body warm-up effect, this approach allows the athlete to hit the ground running when the workout starts.

While your opponents are watching reality TV on the treadmill, you can perform 100-200 reps of total body movements that accomplish the same thing, plus much more!

You would be amazed at what 400 extra reps per week will do for you (assuming 100 reps per warm-up and four workouts per week) over the course of a training cycle/block/year.

Here’s the above warm-up peeled apart from the example workout:

Jumping jacks x 30
T-Stab push ups x 6/side
Arm circles x 12/direction
Straight arm rotations x 8/side
Single-leg hip circle x 12/direction/leg
Zombie squat with reach through x 8
Shoulder T x 15
Zombie lateral lunge x 5/side

Total reps performed: 163

Each exercise is performed only once through and with excellent technique moving through a full range of motion.

This warm-up normally only takes about five minutes yet it adds plenty of mobility, stability, flexibility, strength training, injury prevention, and muscle building stimulus to their current routine.

163 reps x 4 workouts per week = 652 reps per week

Now, what do you think will help a hockey athlete more…

Performing this four times per week, or going on the treadmill and walking for five minutes four times per week?

It’s not even a contest, it also doesn’t take any more time nor does it tax the athlete too much that it negates their performance during the workout.

They get in, crush this warm-up, and then are mentally and physically prepared to crush the workout.

The Training

The main part of the workout is where we start hitting those intensities I talked about previously.

This part isn’t very long, nor should it be — typically 40-50 minutes.

One of the many things that have separated HockeyTraining.com apart from the rest is our approach to intensity within our workouts.

While so many professionals are out there fumbling around with silly and ineffective wobble boards, we are training our hockey athletes through real hockey specific strength and conditioning programming.

This means you train hard!

Nobody cares about what music is on in the gym during our workouts because they are focused on getting more oxygen in their lungs.

When the intensity is high, you don’t need a lot of time to get the job done. In fact, 40-50 minutes is an eternity when you are training your butt off.

This section of the workout consists of the weight training and complexes that we will be doing that day, but since it is so incredibly variable from in-season to off-season, or from speed to conditioning, or from shot power to core stability — I can’t provide an example layout here.

Just know good and well that this is where the “meat and potatoes” part of the session takes place.

The Cool Down

What some people consider the cool down portion of the session, I like to use for additional technical, therapeutic, mobility, and parasympathetic activation work.

The cool down is broken into three phases:

Phase 1: Technical Drilling: In this phase, the athlete performs speed and/or agility specific drills that they are having issues getting correctly.

For example, many hockey athletes struggle to execute A-Skips and B-Skips properly, so they would do light work on these during this time to add in their technical ability but also help begin the process of calming down.

Typically, 2-3 drills of only 10 yards there and back will do the trick here.

Phase 2: Mobility routine: In the middle of the cool down routine you are going to find your rehabilitation work to both prevent injury and support performance.

Hip mobility drills, hamstring work, ankle mobility, and much more can all be focused on here but will always be applied on an “as-needed” basis for what the athlete needs to focus on.

In this phase, pick 2-3 hockey specific mobility drills and perform them as needed within your cool down.

Phase 3: Parasympathetic activation: During training we are in a heightened state both physically and mentally, the purpose of the cool down is to bring us out of a sympathetic state (fight or flight) and into a parasympathetic state (rest and digest).

Nothing does this more effectively than deep, belly breathing.

So, once the athlete has performed some light technical work and tissue-specific mobility drills, I like to recommend they do 2-3 minutes of deep breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which will fast-track the recovery process.

Here is the above cool down peeled apart from that full workout example:

A-Skips 10 yds there and back
B-Skips 10 yds there and back
Carioca 10 yds there and back
Split squats x 10/leg
T-stands x 6/leg
Deep Breathing x 2 minutes

The first three exercises are technical speed and agility drills, the second two exercises emphasis hip mobility, and the last exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

This is a complete cool down routine, and once again, accomplishes way more than the standard cool down approach in traditional training.

Putting It All Together

When designing a hockey workout, everything must be purposeful within the session itself but also within the big picture of your training day, training week, training cycle, training block, and training year.

At HockeyTraining.com, our workouts are structured with this template:

The Warm-Up (5-10 minutes): An integrated sequence of movements that are dynamic in nature are work to promote whole body mobility and hockey specific athletic development.

The Workout (40-50 minutes): A hockey specific resistance training session designed with the correct volume, intensity, and frequency that time period of the year demands (off-season, in-season, playoffs, before tryouts, pre-season, etc.)

The Cool Down (5-10 minutes): A three-phase formula to support further technical speed ability, mobility for targeted areas, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Beyond this template, certain concepts you will want to always keep in mind include:

  • Warm-up like you mean it
  • Perform skill-based exercises before strength-based exercises
  • Perform fast exercises before slow exercises
  • Always perform exercises with a full range of motion and don’t do forced/cheat reps
  • Your rehabilitative work should be included within your warm-ups and cool down and not be the focus of your entire session
  • When combining exercises, it’s best to combine non-competing muscle groups together so that performance is not negated during any time of the training
  • If it hurts (as in actual pain), don’t do it, “training through the pain” is never a smart idea

If you understand the template I provided above and you take these additional points into consideration, you’ll be way ahead of the pack in terms of knowing what’s best in the world of hockey specific workout design.

Final Thoughts

I hope I was able to shed some light today on how exactly hockey players should be training and what type of template they should be using for their workout programming, but, I do want to repeat the idea that this article was about a workout and not a program.

Biology responds to stimuli over time, and not within specific windows of time.

Meaning, it’s not a workout that is going to get you results, only a complete program can do that.

This is why I can’t recommend enough that hockey athletes get access to the VIP members area here at Hockey Training.

It contains every single speed, conditioning, strength, and mobility program I have ever created for hockey players and will provide you all of the information you will ever need to become the best hockey player you can be.

Over ten REAL programs (and not just workouts!) are in there that meet all of your current training needs plus all of the nutrition information you need to support your muscle building, fat loss, recovery, and performance goals.

Check out the VIP program today and i’ll see you on the inside.

Written by
Dan Garner
Join the discussion

3 comments
  • Hi,

    I’m currently going through Mens League Domination (MLD) 2.0 program and there’s the suggested warm-up for all workouts, which takes me about 13-15 minutes to finish: 5 minutes of core exercises (crunches & planks) + 5 minutes of total body movements + 3-5 minutes for 2×10 of 1st 2 workout exercises with 50% of planned workout starting weights. While the sample warm-up from above article (30 x Jumping Jacks etc.) is about 5 minutes of total body movements only (i.e., no direct core exercises). Assuming, that one would still warm up for 1st 2 exercises of the day with warm-up weights, the main difference between both (MLD and above article) warm-ups is the core work, which is absent from the above article warm-up sample (Jumping Jacks x 30 etc.).

    Question: can I switch MLD warm-up to sample warm-up from above article and add 2×10 warm-up reps of the 1st 2 exercises of the day? Or alternatively, do you feel now, that it is ok to put less emphasis on core warm-up and do total body exercises only?

    Best regards,
    Kaspars

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