If you’re like most of us, you don’t have a clue as to how to get into hockey shape
By Evan Tabachnick
Most of us don’t have a clue as to how to get into hockey shape. You can buy all the books, watch all the shows, and spend all the money you want. There are plenty of avenues to take in order to get yourself properly conditioned for ice hockey. Save yourself time, money and frustration by keeping your conditioning simple.
The Legs Feed the Wolf
Think about what you’re doing out there on the ice, and for how long. While the bench press and curls can get you looking good for beach season, they do very little to get you into hockey shape for your on-ice performance.
As legendary coach Herb Brooks once said, “The legs feed the wolf.” You’ll want to strengthen and condition your lower body to be able to perform for you for at least the duration of a game.
Ideal workouts are those that challenge your leg muscles while at the same time stretch your endurance. We’ve all seen TV shows featuring NHL players and their training regimens. There’s always at least one scene with a player working out on the stationary bike. (The bike is said to be a very similar exercise to skating.)
If you want to play like a pro, you must try to train like one. If you don’t mind riding the stationary bike, take a ride for 30-40 minutes on moderate-high resistance. You’ll want to set the resistance level to reflect that of skating with full pads on. If Level 5 makes your legs tired, try Level 6 or 7. You’re training for your own benefit here, so don’t cut any corners.
If you need a little more excitement and adventure in your workouts, there are many other exercises that work on those “skating muscles.” If you happen to be a fitness buff (or know any), you’re probably familiar with plyometrics.
Plyometrics is a fancy term for jumping around. While there are dozens of specific exercises that fall into this category, the simplest one of all is jumping up and down. Get into a low crouch and explode upward as high as you can. Challenge yourself by seeing how many of those you can do in a minute. I’m currently working on an off-ice hockey stride, where I get low and lean on my right leg and then hop over to my left foot, repeat and then switch. Running in the sand or water is also great for those who have access to a beach. There are plenty of ways to make the best of what you have without having to pay for a gym membership or fitness equipment.
To ramp up the intensity and make your workouts enjoyable, try adding a little music. At this point, I rely on music to make my exercise sessions more effective. You must make the workout something to look forward to, otherwise you’ll find yourself skipping sessions.
No matter what it is that you do, you won’t see any results unless you push yourself to get into hockey shape. Get creative with your workouts while keeping the ultimate goal in mind and you will become a better skater and a better athlete. Keep it fun, and keep it simple.
Note: Consult a physician before you begin any exercise program.
Evan Tabachnick plays in two rec hockey leagues.