With the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks squaring off in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s worth noting what can be applied from elite-level hockey training to your own conditioning. Hockey, like the NBA, has a marathon postseason. For teams that reach the Stanley Cup Finals, the season lasts more than nine months counting preseason training camp. No wonder hockey players are considered some of the best-conditioned athletes in sports. Here are two key areas where anyone can benefit from hockey training, even if you never lace up a pair of skates.
1. Build lower-body power.
Most people don’t train their legs as hard as the rest of the body, where the results can be more evident. Hockey players must produce a lot of power from their legs over long periods of time. “It can be a limiting factor for people who want to cycle or trail run,” says Anthony Slater, who has worked with numerous hockey players at Athletes’ Performance. “People don’t have the leg strength they need, so their legs give out before their energy systems do.”
Hockey players operate out of a permanent squat position for intense one-minute intervals (shifts) repeatedly over the course of the game. To simulate those demands, Slater suggests pushing yourself further during workouts. If you had planned on hard, 60-second intervals on the bike, push yourself occasionally for an extra 30 seconds. “There’s a huge benefit of having that uncomfortable feeling in your legs and pushing a little further,” Slater says. “Not just for the conditioning benefits, but also from a strength and power standpoint. Train your total body in your workouts, and then emphasize strength work with your legs, making sure conditioning is geared to making the legs burn and not just the lungs and heart.”
2. Play goalie with your body.
Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is 37 years old. Dwayne Roloson of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which lost to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals, is 41. Both continue to dominate a grueling position known for wear and tear on the hips and pelvis. Like a goalie, you want to deflect all of the shots that life throws at you. But specifically you want to avoid all of the hip and lower body issues that can develop just as easily during a career behind a desk as one in front of a goal. You’re not likely to throw your hips out violently sitting behind a desk. But the gradual damage done by sitting on your glutes for hours on end, locking down your hips, can be just as troublesome. (Read “Is Sitting a Death Sentence?”)
Thomas is a longtime yoga practitioner and Roloson also is known for his dedication to off-season conditioning. Increase your longevity by following the Movement Prep and Prehab portions of the Core Performance program (click here for primers on both). Constantly training your hips will go a long way toward maintaining mobility and preventing injury. “A lot of goalies have optimal mobility and that’s what we want to strive for,” Slater says. “Hips fall into the use-it-or-lose-it category, and that’s where Movement Prep and Prehab can be so valuable.”
About The Author
– Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.
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