This is the final week I’ll be contributing to the San Antonio Rampage website this summer, and I’ve really enjoyed my weekly discussions on specific exercises, goaltender conditioning and warm-ups. I think it would be a perfect wrap-up to the summer columns to discuss looking at the big picture when putting together an off-ice workout program for a hockey player. Whether you are a younger player wanting to develop physical skills to increase their performance, an adult player wanting to supplement the health benefits of regular exercise on the ice or a professional player that must maintain an elite level of conditioning, there are similar themes that exist in every training program.
No matter what level of hockey you are at, when looking at your exercise program, you need to have an honest assessment of where you are at and where you want to go. Too often people jump into the middle of exhausting workout routines that they should not be doing. It is either too often, too much, too hard or, most likely, a combination of all three. If your goal is to run a marathon and you have never run more than 5 miles in a session, you will need to gradually build up from 5 miles, not immediately try 15 or 20.
Setting realistic goals is also just as important. Not only for the motivation of accomplishing goals, but it will help you set the “roadmap” for how to achieve them. If you have a goal of losing 10 pounds, then making better food choices, burning more calories in activity and monitoring your bodyweight are the obvious steps.
Exercise should be challenging but not to the point that proper technique breaks down or you are unable to recover between workout bouts. Exercise is essentially a stress on the body, with the goal of it adapting so it will be stronger, quicker or better conditioned for the next time it is stressed. If exercise is overdone, the body will break down. If it isn’t allowed enough rest between exercise sessions, it won’t recover fully and the body will break down. If it isn’t given the proper fuels and rebuilding materials at the appropriate times, the body will break down. It is a fine line between pushing the body to its limits and going too far.
I always recommend the use of a qualified trainer and approval from your physician before entering into any training program, as they can offer advice on how to push your body safely and let it properly recover. Keeping an eye on those factors daily, weekly and monthly will help you achieve those goals you set.