Today’s post is a special contribution from Eric of Going Bar Down. Check out one of their popular articles, the best hockey sticks of 2019, if you need some new lumber!
The hockey season can be a long grind, especially if you find your team going deep into playoffs. For minor hockey players this can mean 40-50 games, and as you rise in the ranks playing Junior or Major Junior, you eventually can find yourself hitting 80 games in a season. Being on the ice every day in a game as rough as hockey can be extremely demanding on your body, but hockey players are still expected to keep their strength and conditioning up in the gym as well.
At Bar Down we want to help young hockey players train safely and maximize their strengths during the season and once that season is done. As the coach, you can have a huge impact on helping your players stay fresh during workouts as well as introducing some newer recovery methods being employed by athletes and fitness gurus worldwide.
Avoid Training To Failure In-Season
As the season rolls on, you must continue to work out in the gym to keep your strength up, but it’s even more important during the offseason. But it’s important to avoid training to failure during the season. If you are looking for a starting point for a strength program, check out this hockey strength training article.
Training properly to failure can definitely have some mass gain advantages compared to leaving a few reps in the tank, but studies have shown when it comes to developing high velocity strength in muscles that training to failure in fact is less effective than leaving a few reps on the table. On top of this, in a time where you are training to help endure the remainder of the season, the mental and physical tax of training to failure is something that should be avoided. For accessory lifts such as lat pulldowns or chest flyes, training to failure puts a minor toll on the central nervous system and doesn’t pose too great a risk. However, for big lifts such as squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts and bench press, not only will these tax your central nervous system, but also put you at a massively increased risk of injury if you train to failure. Your central nervous system should not be maxed out in the gym when this is only used as a tool to improve your game, therefore we suggest avoiding training to failure to save your peak performance for the ice.
The #1 goal when training for hockey should ALWAYS be to not get hurt. Hockey players train safely when they’re prepared and focussed, whether it’s in-season or offseason. Getting hurt shifts your focus from strength and power increase to injury recovery which can set you back in your game, and if you are young, could potentially limit or altogether eliminate your ability to make it to the next level.
Recovery Advice – Utilize An Infrared / Dry Sauna
Typically people will tell you to do some stretching and spin your legs after a workout for recovery. In this day and age every little advantage counts, so we are going to break down how one method has two scientifically fleshed ways to help you recover faster.
Saunas were once thought of as a Scandinavian tradition that seemed to feel good but with little tangible benefits. Thankfully, through scientific analysis, various types of sauna treatments now have proven benefits. The key is keeping them around 80-100 degrees celsius for the duration of your sauna trip. Here are two main benefits to you as a hockey player.
1. Increased cardiovascular performance: In a study done by researchers in New Zealand, a 30 minute sauna session after three training sessions helped them shave 2 percent off their time compared to non sauna users. The body’s heart rate can shoot up from 60-70 bpm to as high as 150 bpm in the sauna. This over time helps train your heart muscles and cardiac output, and help train your body to regulate its cooling by moving blood around. In layman’s terms, it’s a boost to your performance for sitting on your butt for 30 minutes!
2. Better Athletic Recovery: Growth hormone is crucial for athletes to recover from workouts and rebuild muscle tissue. A study has shown that two 80C 1 hour sauna sessions per day for 7 days created a 16 fold increase in blood serum growth hormone. Is it realistic for you to spend 14 hours a week in a sauna? Of course not! The study shows that after the third session the GH rise declines. We suggest trying to fit in 1.5-3 hours of total sauna time per week.
We hope these tips are something new to you, and we believe if implemented properly they will make a material difference in both your in season and offseason training and recovery, and help you perform and feel optimal all year!