Skating Treadmills

Skating treadmills, or skate mills, are in my opinion the best way to train your cardiovascular systems in the off season.  The biggest draw back of the skating treadmills are that they cost a lot to use.  They have tremendous upside though, not only can you work on your cardio training but at the same time your are strengthening your skating muscles and working on your stick handeling or shooting.  There are lots of drills that can be done on the skate mills, all sorts of stick handeling drills, passing, and shooting all while skating at your top speed.  This will transfer onto the ice much more than any other off ice training.  Agility drills can be done with the skate mill inclined, quick start drills to work on those first few steps.  Another helpful drill is to be skating at full speed and have the instructor push you while you try and stay balanced, teaching you to keep your feet moving while there is pressure on you.

Overall skate mills transfer very well onto the ice so I believe it to be the best interval training that can be done off ice.  Image

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Injury training, aqua jogging

Right now I have a broken ankle, yes one of the side effects of being a hockey player, and today at physiotherapy they had me try aqua jogging.  Aqua jogging is where you put a life jacket on and float in the water without your feet touching the botton.  Then you have to run without your feet touching to the other side and back for as long as they tell you to.  I felt like an absolute moron!  I was working so hard in this hot pool sweating a ton and moving at about 1 km/h.  But I have to be honest it was a pretty good workout, and under the circumstances about all there is in the way of cardio training.  I know I already wrote a post about swimming and how it is great for injuries but this is another spin on it, this way you are still primarily working your leg muscles which is nice.

Store this in the memory bank for when that lower body injury happens, believe me it will, and remember that the pool is your best bet for cardio training.  Don’t be embarrassed to try aqua jogging no one will laugh at you, and if they do it will be the girls in the “he’s cute come and talk to me” kind of way.

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Work on your shooting at home

hockey isn’t like basketball or soccer where you can train anytime for exactly what you need to work on.  We require expensive ice time, full gear, and quite possibly a bit of a drive.  So why not take advantage of some of the specific areas that you can work on at home, like shooting.  It’s easy enough to get set up in your back yard all you need is: A good hockey net (real on ice net) and a piece of plastic to shoot and stickhandel pucks on.  Go to your local rink and ask the manager if he has the advertisement coverings from the bords, those work perfectly and they’re free!  This surface is also great for stickhandling, although you may need to spray it with pledge before you start or something to slick it up a bit.  

When I was 16 in juniors I had the weakest shot on the team so all summer I worked on my shot at home and by the next season the difference was unbelievable.  Buy some weighted pucks at canadian tire or any sports shop and shoot those as well.  I also made some pucks out of steel and shot those which helped a lot.  

I challenge you to take 1,000 shots a week one whole off season, using heavy pucks as well,  and I guarantee you will notice a huge difference in the following season.

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Proper nutrition habits for weight gain

Remember this is for gaining muscle not for fat weight gain so dont let the title put you off.  It is time to throw out your classic principals of 3 square meals a day and start snacking!  The best way to gain weight is not having 3 massive meals a day but instead have 5 or 6 decently sized meals per day.  Before your weight training it is very important to have a solid breakfast, no having just a coffee and going to the gym.  You may think having junk food will help you put on fat which you can then turn into muscle, but a better and healthier way to do this is by eating much more “healthy” calories than you expend.

Why spread out your meals?

Because having a balanced intake of nutrition steadily thought the day will allow for more of those calories to be burned.  This is because you will be able to work harder and have more energy.  Also it will allow you to take in more calories as the day progresses.

Is breakfast the really the most important meal of the day?

Absolutely, breakfast should never be skipped, it gives you the energy you need to get through the day.  Breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, be sure to get some protein in the meal as well.  A typical breakfast when trying to gain weight should include protein, carbohydrates, and some fruit or veggies.  An example of a good breakfast that I have would be 3 hard boiled eggs, toast, a coffee, and a can of v8 to supply some vegetable servings.

Your meal schedule should look roughly like this:

Wake up lets say 9am, breakfast, 11am snack, 1pm lunch, 3pm snack 6 pm dinner, 9pm snack.

That would be an effective meal plan for weight gain.

Is it bad to eat after 6pm?

If you are trying to gain weight then absolutely not!  This is actually one of the most important meas of the day as well because if you don’t eat after 6pm your stomach will be empty through the night.  If your stomach is empty then you will start to lose weight , your body will start looking elsewhere in your body for calories instead of a food source.

When trying to gain weight the key concept is taking more than you expend, simple really.  So if you are expending 3,000 calories a day try and take in 3,500 to see an increase.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat less more often throughout the day, that will allow for all of your food to be properly digested.Image

Swimming for cardio training

Swimming is a great alternative to running or riding the bike in your off season training.  Some would say that it is much more effective then either because you use your entire body and a lot more energy.  Swimming gives your whole body muscle toning while also offering terrific cardio training.  The greatest thing about swimming in the off season is that you will not do as much damage to your joints as you would running or riding the bike.  It is virtually stress free on your joints that are so often used in hockey.  While in the pool still train the same way you would run, by doing either sprints or interval training.

When you sustain a lower body injury which is very common (I have a broken ankle right now) swimming is almost the only cardio training you can use.  By going to the pool you can still do interval training and sprint training, sure it won’t be the same as sprints for your muscles but it will still have the same effect on your conditioning.

Start slow when you first get in the pool and build your way up to longer and longer swims, just like anything your body has to adjust to the new type of training.

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Is a power slide worth it?

The power slide is a piece of equipment that helps hockey players train their skating muscles more while off the ice.  They range between $150-$300, a little pricey but they are effective.  The questions isn’t if they are effective, it’s are they worth the price?

Well from first glance I would have to say no.  It’s a piece of plastic with an end at each side and a pair of slippers… not the best way to spend that kind of money.  If you really wanted on of these it wouldn’t be hard to make.

The actual benefits of this training exercise is that it strengthens your skating stride but in you off season training you should be doing a lot of weight training anyways.  The one place i would have to give it credit is it would be effective for interval trainining, instead of running you could go 45 seconds on and 2 minutes off while using the power slider.  With that said, go to your local rink and find an old piece of plastic they use for the advertisements, screw some wood in the ends, spray it with pledge, and there you go!  It shouldn’t be too hard to track down a couple of shower caps to put on your feet either.

So don’t waste you money on a power slider, buy the green biscuit instead and work on your hands, not to mention save a couple hundred dollars.  Image

Importance of proper sleep for athletes

Sleep is crucial to all athletes performance.  It has been studied when athletes are not sleep deprived they show strong signs of:

-Improved weight training & conditioning

-Improved focus and concentration

-Faster recovery

-Potential decrease in injuries

-Decrease in fatigue and an increase in energy

-Overall performance improved

Basically everything an athlete needs is improved by getting proper sleep and making up for any sleep debt you may have.  Two signs of sleep debt are: Feeling drowsy at any time and the quicker you call asleep the more sleep debt you have.  The only way to get rid of this debt is to extend your sleep.  Sleep debt can be built up over time, so the more nights you dont get your sleep the worse your sleep debt becomes.  All of these improvements shown by these athletes were done simply by extending their sleep by two hours until their sleep debt was gone.  Once your sleep debt is gone you will notice that the drowsiness will go away, but unfortunately it may take you longer to fall asleep at night.  

If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, or have gotten into a sleeping pattern of bed at 4am then wake up at noon and need to break it you will have to reset your biological clock.  being in the dark in the evening and at night will help as well as bright lights in the morning.  

Some myths about sleep: 

There is no such thing as too much sleep, when you over sleep you are just catching up on sleep debt which is a good thing.

When people say they can’t fall asleep because their “mind is racing”, that is simply because their biological clock is off and they need to reset it.

“I feel very drowsy after a big lunch”, that is because you are sleep deprived, and because your body tends to lul mid day and becomes more alert from 5-8.  Food has nothing to do with feeling drowsy.

Sleep is such a simple and easy way to gain so much in your sport, everyone should be taking advantage but some neglect proper sleep.  Naps are a good idea, even a ten minute nap will refresh you and boost energy levels.  Image