Time to Start Your In-Season Training

Hopefully all your goals were met for the pre-season and your team is ready to start the regular season. Now it is time to change your training emphasis for the in-season.

Here is an excerpt from The Hockey Conditioning Handbook chapter on the in-season. Your focus now is on maintenance.

In-Season Training Emphasis:

1)      Aerobic maintenance

2)      Flexibility

3)      Explosive Energy maintenance

Training in-season should be focused on maintenance sessions. This is assuming you have reached the necessary fitness levels prior to the start of the season. If not, you may find there are not enough practice hours in a day or week to do everything that needs to be done. Concentrate on aerobics, flexibility, and explosive energy, regardless of the fitness levels. The game cannot be played well without these.

Following are some suggested programs for in-season conditioning maintenance.
Sample In-Season Training Programs

Aerobics is still the foundation for training. A good practice will usually have an aerobic drill package built in. Cycling and running are two common ways to do aerobic work off ice. Skiing, both water and snow, is excellent for hockey players because it includes upper body work.
Flexibility should be done daily with emphasis on proper warm up/cool down stretching before and after practices and games. Add at least one weekly flexibility training session.
Explosive energy can be done as outlined in the pre-season section. You can also incorporate stair sprints (2 steps at a time), or stair hops (up and down) using one leg only for each 5-10 second work bout.
Maintenance of strength/endurance and high energy can be accomplished by exercising at least the level attained in the pre-season. If a player’s ability to sustain high energy is still weak, players will need to do additional training. Continue to do high energy training 1-2 times per week, depending on game schedule. High energy work should not be done the day prior to a game. Try to do at least one of the two sessions on the ice.

All aspects of conditioning should be done at least to the level attained in pre-season work using programs and drills as outlined in the pre-season section. To save training time, or for variety in training, exercise circuits can be designed to meet all components of conditioning, except flexibility.

Flexibility should be done separately before and after workouts. A complete on ice training circuit is presented below.

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NHL Players Recognize the Importance of Year Round Training

Every time I come across an article like the one by Canadian Press writer Chris Johnston, I see the value of our book The Hockey Conditioning Handbook. Click on the Store tab above to check it out. The article is on www.canoe.ca and it titled NHLers spend summer training. Here is an excerpt.

Whether Rod Brind’Amour’s season ends in June, April or February, one thing always remains constant – he starts training for the next one as soon as he can.

The captain of the Carolina Hurricanes is one of the fittest players in the NHL because he refuses to stop exercising. He turned 38 over the summer and still has three years left on a contract he fully intends to play out.

Brind’Amour typifies the character needed to be a veteran in today’s NHL. In the past, some believed that longevity was best achieved by taking extensive time off over the summer to let the body heal before essentially starting anew during training camp.

That strategy simply wouldn’t work now.

“It’s definitely a year-round job,” Brind’Amour said during a recent interview. “I think the guys that approach it that way are the ones that last the longest…

The training methods vary by individual.

Brind’Amour likes to get up by 6 a.m. for a bike ride before hitting the gym or going for a skate. Alzner has added more bench press and chin-up exercises to his normal routine that focuses on core strength. Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins is a friend of Simon Whitfield’s and participated in triathlons while taking time away from skating early in the summer.

The key to Jason Spezza’s off-ice workouts is the presence of other NHLers. He’s one of 10 guys that train together at a gym in Toronto over the summer.

“It’s pretty intense,” said the Ottawa Senators forward. “That’s why you try to have other guys around you that are kind of working towards the same thing.

“It makes it a little bit competitive and keeps the edge on the days you don’t feel like getting out of bed. You’ve got to beat the other guys.”

The 29-year-old Ference believes his generation of players is used to working out all summer long and showing up to training camp in top shape.

However, one change he’s observed over nine seasons in the league is the different approach players now take to their workouts.

“Some guys used to think training was all about going in the gym, pumping iron and getting huge,” said Ference. “They forgot they’re not professional weightlifters or bodybuilders – they have to be ready for hockey.

“I think the type of training, guys have maybe adjusted that to be more specific to our sport.”

Read the rest of the article for more insight on NHL players feeling for the importance of year round specific training for hockey.