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Equipment
      Breaking It In
      Stick With What...





Off-Season Cardio Training for Hockey Players

By Paul Goldberg, Colorado Avalanche
CoachSOS.com
 
We at PlayYourGame.com are excited to bring to your attention through the help of CoachSOS.com, the expertise of numerous NHL Athletic Trainers. As players, we are all intrigued by what it takes to be an NHL caliber player. These articles will provide you with the opportunity to get a glimpse of what it takes. Learn from the best, the trainers who train the best!

Cardio is absolutely necessary for a good, off-season, hockey-conditioning program. But, there are five things you need to cover when adding cardio for hockey conditioning program.
  1. How good is your conditioning right now? You don't want to jump into a tough cardio program if you've been inactive or recovering from an injury.
  2. When does your season start and when do you want to be in top shape? You want to "peak" at the right time. You need to plan your workouts based on the duration of your off-season.
  3. What are your goals for conditioning?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What are you working for?
When you answer all these questions, you begin to understand what your training program should focus on. Letís assume that attaining a higher cardio fitness level is what you are working for. Below is an example of the Colorado Avalanche off-season cardio program.

Our off-season, assuming we win the Stanley cup, will be nine weeks long. We will start on July 2nd. At this time, we begin cross-training with longer-duration, low-intensity aerobic activities.

Iíll have our players do road biking, mountain biking, jogging, hiking, and swimming. This is designed to get a cardio workout, and to get away from hockey! We just spent nine months on the ice so I want them to get outside. They will cross-train for 30-90 min a day, three times a week, for the first three weeks. With each week bringing an increase in intensity or duration, or both. In other words, do the activity a little harder or longer each time you go out.

The next three weeks we start adding in bike and running sprints, as well as, plyos, stair runs, slide board, inline skating, and agility's. At this point, we begin to decrease the cross-training component and add in more hockey-specific exercises and metabolic activities. These sprints are short (100m or 30 seconds) to long (800m or two minutes) in length. As well, the overall time spent exercising with your heart rate (HR) elevated, must be accounted for. I want them to get their HR up to a maximum of 180 beats per minute (bpm) on the sprints and get it back to 125 bpm before the next sprint (this would be lower based on your fitness level). This is generally a 4:1 rest-to-work ratio. We want their HR to be above 125 for 30-40 minutes, three or four times per week.

In the final three weeks we progress more into hockey-specific exercises such sprints on the ice or grass, and slide board but still continue to do stairs, plyos, and stationary bikes. At this point, the intensity level is very high! The overall time their HR is at its maximum is 30-90 minutes. Depending on the day, the rest-to-work ratio is now 3:1 or 2:1.

We execute these exercises so that the rest-to-work ratio is metabolically similar to hockey line changes (go hard for 30-45 sec, rest for 60-120 sec). Exercises at this point are done three to four times per week.

Additionally, here are some other things to keep in mind. We always give the guys plenty of rest! Recovery is the key to any good workout. We schedule days off and make it clear to them that they have to use that day to rest. Proper nutrition is also very important during training and rest periods. Always warm up before you do any exercise, and cool down and stretch after every activity. Some of the cross-trainingexercises we do in-season are different, so we have the players warm up, cool down and stretch every day.

In closing, stay hydrated! Your body doesn't work correctly if it doesn't have enough water in it! Good luck, and train hard.



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