Developing a strength training program in-season is difficult, especially if you play at a high level, 5-6 times per week. Getting in the gym twice a week can become a very daunting task for many players who feel so bogged down from practice, games, road trips, and in some cases school work, the last thing they want to do is lift for an hour.
However much you may hate the gym during the season, you need to find a way to motivate yourself to go.
I coach a girls u16 elite aaa team, and they have all spoke to me about strength training programs and what to do. Many of the girls are using p90x, and some are doing nothing at all. P90x is not optimal at all, however it is much better than doing nothing at all.
So, here are 5 quick tips on developing your in-season program:
1) Train 2 days a week, for 45-60 minutes of work.
Let’s face it, getting in the gym more than 2 days a week in season is probably not going to happen. For some people it will work, for others I say no way. 45-60 minutes is the ideal time for you because you can keep the lifts fast, with short rest intervals. If you’re doing conditioning, perform it on the ice if possible.
2) Use multi-joint, full body movements
Stray away from machines and use mostly free weight movements. Barbells and dumbbells will challenge all of your main muscles along with the stabilizers and synergists that are often thrown out the window when using machines. Full body movements like deadlifts and db snatches correlate better to on ice performance as opposed to leg extensions and machine crunches. Hockey is played standing up, with an emphasis on single leg work. So base your lifts off of movements on your feet and include single leg work like lunges, reverse lunges, and single leg squats.
3) Spend 10 minutes doing a dynamic warm up, and spend 10 minutes on mobility work.
A good dynamic warm up will help warm your muscles as well as helping to lubricate the joints. Your core temperature will rise and with a good blood flow you should feel ready to go. I like to include mobility drills into workouts to act as active rest. Instead of resting for 2 minutes between squats, knock out some pec minor/levator scap stretches and thoracic extensions. You kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
4) Focus big on Pre/Post workout nutrition
A competitive hockey season is long and grueling. The immune system gets bogged down in the winter and with a lack of good nutrition, vitamin D (sunlight), and proper rest, players will get tired and sick. Do what you can to avoid these problems. Following a hard practice, game, or workout make sure you’re ingesting a good post-training meal. Eat or drink something with around a 3:1 carb to protein ratio, and add in some healthy fats as well. On the side of this, make sure you’re staying on top of your vegetables and fruits.
**This may be the most important thing in-season.
5) Do the same workout each week for 4-6 weeks then change things up
These coaches who have their kids perform the same program for 8-12 weeks are crazy. On the flip side, don’t be the person quoting dodgeball with the “I’m trying to keep the body guessing” BS. If you lift twice a week, do 2 different workouts, and do the same 2 workouts for the next 4-6 weeks before switching.
This is hardly a definitive guide but it should give you all a few quick guidelines to follow. Since the season is starting up next week I will be writing a much more thorough plan as well as answering a lot of questions I’ve gotten on this front.