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Conditioning For Hockey Players

Are you conditioning correctly for hockey? 

Off-ice conditioning for hockey is often misunderstood. Coaches usually have athletes perform long bouts of steady-state work (aerobic training) or they have athletes perform bike sprints or sprints that closely resemble a hockey shift.  

Neither of these approaches is wrong they just leave many gaps in overall conditioning. 

Energy Systems

There are three energy systems that fuel all human performance: alactic, lactic, and aerobic energy systems. These three systems each play a role in hockey and require there own unique approach to training them.

Without getting into great detail of how these systems work the chart below will give you the basics:

SystemEffortDurationRest
AlacticMaximal Effort (100%)<12sLong
LacticNear Maximal Effort (90-99%)30-90sModerate
AerobicModerate Effort (75-90%>2 MinutesShort

The Alactic System provides immediate energy in the form of quick and powerful movements for up to 12s. It takes the body about 1-3+ minutes to replenish energy stores in this system

The Lactic System takes over for the alactic system when maximal effort goes longer than 12s. This system is the main provider of energy for up to 90s. Recovery time is anywhere from 1-3 minutes depending on the duration of the exersice.

The Aerobic System can provide energy for long as needed. This system is the workhorse in the human body and it will assist in recovery and in replenishing energy stores lost in the previous two systems. Work in this system is characterized as sub-maximal effort for over 2 minutes. 

It is important to note that these systems do not work independently of each other. They are all working at the same time.

How To Trian Energy Systems For Hockey

Hockey requires the use of all three systems. This is why your off-season training must look to improve all three systems. If your aerobic system is too strong you will lose power and be slow, and if your alactic/lactic system is too strong you will be explosive and not be able to recover for the next shift.

In the offseason, we focus primarily on the aerobic and alactic system. Having a strong aerobic base allows for faster recovery times and the ability to produce power late in the game. The alactic system keeps players fast and strong.  

We do not do very much lactic system work. Hockey players train this system naturally once they begin skating more and in the first few weeks of the preseason. This system does not take long to train about 2-3 weeks to bring it up to speed. 

Here are to methods we use to train the aerobic and alactic energy systems in the offseason:

Alactic Repeat Intervals: 

Equipment: Bike, Slideboard, Sled, Pavement 

How To Perform: 3-6 Sets of 12s Max Effort Sprints with 3 Minutes of Rest

Aerobic Repeat Intervals:

Equipment: Bike, Slideboard, Sled, Pavement

How To Perform: 6-12 Sets of 2 Minutes of Work with 1 Minute of Rest

I hope this helps you rethink your approach to conditioning for hockey. Stay tuned for a complete offseason conditioning program for hockey!

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