Saturday, December 29, 2012

Importance of In-Season Hockey Strength Training

Most hockey players, no matter the level they play at, have this belief that weight training is only for the summer time. Hopefully after reading my post your thought process will change. 
In the past, players would work their tail off during the summer and be in the best shape coming into camp. But as the season progressed they would lose most of their strength because they didn't know the importance of continuing their weight training during the season.
Benefits of increased strength
- increase of speed
- explosiveness
- winning more 1 on 1 battles
- decreased risk of injury

How to maintain/build strength during the season
- keep the reps low 2 -6
- keep the sets low 2- 4
- keep the volume low
The reason you don't want to do high reps (upwards of 8 - 12) is because it will produce the metabolic byproduct lactic acid which will increase your recovery time. Performing reps in the range of 2 - 6 will increase your strength faster than doing 8 - 12 reps.

If you haven't lifted weights since the summer time use common sense and start slow. Start with 1 to 2 sets of 3 - 6 reps using light/moderate weight and increase weekly. Feel free to lift heavier and do a few extra sets when you have at least 2 full days of recovery before game day. Depending on your game schedule you'll have to design workouts accordingly to maximize the benefits of increased strength. 

An example of a workout for Tuesday with a Friday game:

a)Hang Cleans 4sets x 5reps
a)Front Squat 4sets x 5reps
  b)Hip Flexor Stretch
a)Split Squat 3sets x 4reps each
  b)Straight arm sit-up
a)Bench 4sets x 5reps
  b)Explosive Landmine Press 4sets x 4reps each

(This workout is for a player who has been working out regularly during the season and can handle the work load.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ab Exercises

My last post talked about why you should remove the "sit-up" from your ab routine. Today I will give you a few exercises that you should be doing to strengthen your "6 pack abs" instead of the "sit-up"!

Push-up Walkouts - Starting in a push-up position. Making sure your back is flat and your core is strong, arms are shoulder width apart and your hands are under your shoulders. Start by walking your hands slowly away from your body but make sure you keep perfect push-up position. Your hips should not sway side to side nor should your back dip. Walk your hands out as far as you can while keeping your core engaged and then slowly return your hands to starting position. Repeat for desired amount of reps.

SB Roll-outs - Start on your knees and place the Swiss Ball under your forearms. Then place your body in a plank position, making sure you are strong throughout your core and have a flat back. Once you are solid, slowly roll the Swiss Ball (with control) away from your body using your forearms. Only roll as far as you can without compromising your plank position and your lower back. Once you have gone as far as you can, slowly roll the Swiss Ball back to the starting position. Repeat for desired amount of reps.

Front Plank - Start by lying face down on the floor then raise up off the floor using your forearms and toes. Make sure your elbows are at a 90 degree bend. Tighten up your core area to prevent any sag in your lower back. Keep your head in a neutral position looking at the ground between your arms. Hold this position for desired amount of time. (I recommend starting with 30 seconds and working your way up)

Try these exercise and let me know what you think. The key to remember with all of these exercises is that you should never feel any discomfort in your lower back when performing them. If you start to feel your lower back hurting then don't walk out as far, roll out as far, or hold the plank too long.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Sit-ups should be removed from your workouts...

When most people try to get "6 pack abs" they usually do countless amounts of sit-ups. The reason they do all these sit-ups is because they want to strengthen their rectus abdominis (the 6 pack abs) and thus have a 6 pack. The only problem with this approach, as I've mentioned before, is that doing sit-ups won’t give you wash board abs. Your diet will!!! Now I'm not saying strengthening your rectus abdominis won’t help to get you those abs you want but you better change your diet too. This post is about changing your thoughts about doing sit-ups when it comes to your abdominal exercises.

Doing sit-ups may cause more harm than good? Because when you perform a sit-up you are rounding your lower back. Any time we perform an exercise we always want to make sure our lower back is in a strong position. An example would be doing a squat. When squatting we want to make sure our lower back has that nice natural curvature to it. This allows us to protect our back from any major injuries like a disc herniation.

When doing a sit-up our lower back is unable to keep the natural curvature because we have to round it on the way up. This rounded position no longer allows the spine to stay in a strong position. By performing this exercise and the rounding motion over and over again the discs between the vertebrae in our lower back will start to bulge slightly. It may never give us any problems while performing that actual sit-up but when performing another exercise like a squat it may result in an injury.

Anytime we choose an exercise to perform in the gym we are always putting our bodies in some type of risk if the exercise is performed incorrectly. But even if an exercise is performed the proper way, it could just be that the exercise itself doesn't allow the body to be in a safe position. That is why it is very important to know the risks and rewards for each exercise. Some exercises have a high risk to reward ratio and other exercises rewards greatly outweigh the risks. If the ratio of risk to reward is too close it is a sign that you should look for an alternate exercise that will be less risky yet yield a higher reward. I feel that there are a lot of better rectus abdominis exercises than the age-old sit-up which can be done to strengthen one’s abs and reduce any risks involving the lower back. I'll be posting these exercises in my next post, so be sure to check back.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post Exercise Supplements

Consumption of the proper nutrients post exercise or competition is extremely crucial for a proper recovery. When we exercise at a high intensity we use muscle glycogen (energy stores) to give our body the energy it needs to perform the tasks we are requiring it to do. The more energy we have stored in our muscles the longer we can perform these tasks. When our muscle glycogen is depleted we feel the effects of being fatigued and can no longer keep the intensity we desire. The reason we want to consume a post exercise or competition supplement is to replenish our muscle glycogen and allow our body to recover. We want a proper recovery so we can get our body back to a physical state of readiness and therefore we can perform at our best for the next training session or competition.

Now that we know why we need to consume something, what is the best type of supplement to consume? A lot of research has been done to determine whether a protein supplement, carbohydrate supplement, or a combination of the two is best. The research has been very unanimous with its findings. The combination of the two, protein and carbohydrate is the best way to replenish our muscle glycogen.

The amount of the two nutrients are about a 3:1 - 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. So that means if you have a supplement with 30 grams of carbohydrates then that same supplement should have 10 grams of protein in it. Each person will consume a different amount of these nutrients post exercise or competition depending on body weight. To maximally restore your muscle glycogen you will want to consume 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per 1 kilogram (kg) of body weight (BW) (2.2 pounds (lbs) of body weight).

For example if a person weights 80kg (to get your BW in kg divide your weight in lbs by 2.2) they would want to consume 120 grams of carbohydrates along with 30 grams of proteins immediately after exercise or competition to maximize their recovery. Consuming this will allow the body to fully restore it's muscle glycogen and rebuild the protein breakdown that occurred in the muscle during the training session or competition.

So make sure you are ready to perform at your best by following this guideline.