Having a solid hockey training program in place is vital for peak performance
By Conor Doherty
Work on Compound Movements
When time is of the essence, isolation movements like bicep curls are a waste of time if you’re looking to improve your performance on the ice. Isolation movements are those that focus on moving one joint or on one singular muscle at a time (a bicep curl would focus on the bicep by just moving the elbow joint).
Compound movements, however, involve more than one joint at a time during a particular exercise, and therefore work more than one muscle group at a time. Weekend warriors should focus on compound movements like squats and deadlifts, as well as pushing and pulling movements like bench-press and rowing variations. With these types of movements, you’re going to be hitting all the major muscle groups.
Skip the Crunches
Crunches and sit-ups are not specifically hockey training and don’t really benefit the weekend warrior hockey player. For the most part, these types of players probably work at jobs where they sit at a desk all day. What happens when you sit for so long during the day is that you develop tight hips and a hunched back. Why on earth would you then go to the gym to continue hammering yourself into that unnatural position and screw up your posture even more?
If you want to develop a solid core, use stabilization exercises. The reason is that’s what the core’s main function is anyway: It’s there to stabilize your body while your limbs are working. Instead of crunches, work on planks and side planks. You’ll get the same benefits without the sore back and rounded shoulders.
Use Recovery Techniques
The worst thing about playing hockey as a weekend warrior is the next day. Most players have no choice but to play late in the evening because of all the youth hockey leagues that book the ice between 4pm and 8pm. And if you sit around and talk with the guys after the game, you don’t get home until 11pm, or midnight or later. Obviously, this doesn’t leave you with the ideal amount of time to use sleep to recover.
There isn’t much you can do about sleep in this situation, but you should make sure to get some protein and fast-digesting carbohydrates into your system after playing. I like to load up with a protein shake mixed with waxy maize starch. This ensures that I’m getting protein into my body as well as quick-digesting carbs that will start the recovery process immediately.
Another recovery technique, one that takes only 10 minutes every night, is to develop a stretching routine before you go to bed. What happens, for the majority of weekend warrior players, is that they become tight from their day-to-day lives and don’t work on their flexibility to counterbalance this. Tight hips and a hunched-over upper body are two major reasons to work on flexibility, so making sure to stretch the hip flexor muscles, hamstrings, back muscles and chest muscles are imperative to staying healthy.
Nutrition is Key
I remember hearing that nutrition is 90% responsible for the results you get in a hockey training program. Obviously that number isn’t the same for everyone, as fitness is such an individual thing, but the main take-away from that statement should be that proper nutrition will be a major factor in the results you achieve from your training program.
What should the weekend warrior do in terms of nutrition? First thing is to keep it simple. There’s so much information out there on nutrition and fitness that it can become overwhelming. Doing things like eating breakfast, making sure you have a protein source at each meal, and including fruits and vegetables as much as possible, are just a few ways a weekend warrior can make sure their diet is helping them improve.
So if you’re a weekend warrior, focus on keeping things simple. If you get too fancy with your programming and nutrition, it will only lead to inconsistent results. Become a true weekend warrior by focusing on the important things that bring results. Leave the fancy stuff for the others.
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