The hockey off-season is fast approaching, and there's no better time to start planning for it. This will help you seamlessly transition into your summer workouts to get a step ahead of your competition. (Watch how Jordan Eberle trains in the off-season.)
NHL players like Chris Chelios, Jaromir Jagr and Gary Roberts were effective for such a long time because of their off-season training. They all played at an elite level well into their late 30s and early 40s (Jagr still plays) because of their fitness levels.
It's good to take a break after a long season, but don't sit around too long. Give yourself two weeks to mentally and physically recover, then get right into your training. (See the Athlete's Recovery Guide.) Use the down time to assess your game. Are you a player who relies on your skills to get by, or are you the type who wants to improve and is always searching for ways to get better? Hopefully, you fit the latter profile, because those are the players who have the most success in hockey.
Once you are ready to start, you must choose exercises that will best improve your game on the ice. The following three exercises are critical for any hockey off-season program.
Hockey players spend the majority of their season in a hunched position. Their hips are bent and their upper bodies are tilted forward. The Deadlift helps correct muscle imbalances caused by spending so much time in this skating position. (Learn how to master the Deadlift.)
To become stronger and faster skaters, hockey players must focus on lower-body power. The Box Squat forces you to get your hips back to touch the box. This is especially important for athletes who tend to lean too far forward in the Squat, putting excessive pressure on their knees.
For the first four weeks, follow this set and rep plan:
- Week 1 - 5x4
- Week 2 - 4x4
- Week 3 - 8x3
- Week 4 - 3x3
When the season is four or five weeks away, start incorporating Prowler Pushes to add a conditioning element to your workouts. Pushing the prowler is an awesome way to work on conditioning, while simultaneously building power and strength throughout the body. (Watch Mike Green do the Prowler Push.)
Proper running mechanics are critical for this exercise to be effective. Start with a weight on the prowler that you can push 15 yards back and forth four times for a total of 60 yards. This should be challenging, but not to the point where it's a struggle to finish. Rest 1 minute between sets and repeat three or four times. Add more weight to the prowler or increase the number of sets each week for a continual challenge.
For more hockey training information, visit Star Factory Fitness.