Hockey players are primarily anaerobic athletes, meaning they must produce bursts of energy for speed and power for very short periods of time before their muscles exhaust themselves and their peak performance is reduced.
Anaerobic athletes function mainly within the lactic anaerobic system. To improve their performance, they need to further develop their cardiovascular capacity.
The first step is to take the athlete through a battery of tests to determine his weaknesses, and based on the results, design a program to overcome them while improving his strongest attributes. (Learn more about baseline testing for hockey players.)
For a hockey player (we'll call him Mike), it would be useless to begin a training program with heavy, power-building squats in a rep range of one to three. Instead, Mike should focus on building his cardiovascular outputs so that he can recover faster following a shift and quickly return to the ice at peak performance.
To accomplish this, Mike should incorporate high-intensity stationary bike intervals into his workouts, in which he would work at max effort for 30 seconds and rest for one minute between intervals. At first, Mike may be able to complete only 5 or 6 intervals before he begins to slow in recovery, but that's all right. Taking baby steps is key to developing a well-rounded athlete while minimizing the risk of overtraining. (Learn more about high-intensity interval training.)
Every athlete is different, so it would be a mistake to assume this method will work across the board. But all athletes should focus first on training their weakest energy system. Once they have great endurance, then they can start developing power or strength.
First test yourself. Find your weaknesses and address them.
Photo: University of Michigan Athletics
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