Gladiator Training - Part 3!

Training for power will help increase skating speed and speed endurance. Just as sprinting is the most crucial element to a wide receiver in football, skating is the most crucial element to a hockey player.

[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ]


Introduction

It was bright sunny day, 29°C with a 30 MPH wind coming out of the northwest, as a cocky pilot announced the infamous words "I feel the need, the need for speed, Yowwwwwww!" And we all know what happened next.

Viper took Maverick and Goose on a wild turkey hunt as Jester snuck up from behind and obtained radar lock. The wily veterans had won. And they did so because they were not only smarter in the air, but also faster. In some cases, speed is the great equalizer while in others it's the undisputed dominator.

Regardless of whether you're talking air-to-air combat or talking about 1-on-1 drills at the Air Canada Center, the old saying holds true. Speed kills. Since speed and power are co-pilots, one way to increase one's speed on the ice is to become more powerful. That is the topic of this final segment of the Gladiator Training series.


Why Train For Power?

There is perhaps no simpler way to answer this question than by stating that training for power will help increase skating speed and speed endurance. Just as sprinting is the most crucial element to a wide receiver in football, skating is the most crucial element to a hockey player.

As most of you know, if you can't skate well you can't play hockey. Sure there have been a few exceptions. Brad Marsh etched out a pretty nice career looking like a beat up Pinto in a sea of Ferraris, but there are few like Brad Marsh among today's NHL ranks. The first thing scouts look for in a player is skating ability.

Make no mistake; all of the NHL's elite players (Pavel Bure, Peter Forsberg, Alexander Mogilny, Joe Sakic, etc.) can skate extremely well. So by increasing power one should theoretically be able to increase skating speed. I say theoretically because much of skating, like many other skills in sport has to do with technique, not just power and strength. But if the technique is there and the power improves, look out.

In addition to increasing skating speed, training for power will aide in other facets of the game such as shooting, hitting and perhaps even the most barbaric (tongue in cheek) of all acts during a game, fighting. Max strength is great, but you can't get much of a chance to show off all that strength if you're falling backward because a more powerful player just hit you.

When speaking of power, it's also important to note that any training program should be based on training for power endurance. Since hockey is a game where shifts last between 30-60 seconds and power spurts are required at various intervals during that time, power endurance should be a focus.

So now that we have determined that power and power endurance are critical elements of hockey performance, let's take a look at how to attack these important element of training.


The Prelude

Now that we are much bigger and stronger compared to 13 weeks ago, it is time to put the newfound size and strength into action, fast action. Since we have four weeks devoted to training for power and power endurance, I have outlined below the four methods that will be used each week.

In addition we will take a look at what our anaerobic and aerobic conditioning should consist of for this all-important final 4 weeks of training before the season. Finally we will look at the program in detail including exercises, sets, repetitions, rest intervals, etc. First the methods.

Plyometric

Plyometrics have been around for years and most of us, even if we don't realize it, have completed some form of plyometric movement in our lifetime. For instance, every time little Eric jumps down to the ground from the park bench he is doing a plyometric maneuver.

Plyometric movement refers to the eccentric loading or stretching of a muscle and its subsequent (hopefully rapid) contraction; plyometrics are "ballistic movements". The quicker the eccentric loading occurs, the faster and more forceful the concentric contraction. This is known as the stretch shortening cycle and is something we athletes should take full advantage of. The stretch shortening cycle basically works as follows.

As a muscle is stretched quickly the stretch receptors in the muscle send nerve impulses to the spinal cord that immediately send back signals to the muscle dictating an immediate forceful contraction in order to prevent the muscle from tearing.

We, as athletes, can take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle by doing things such as consecutive standing broad jumps, depth jumps, bounding and reactive jumps. This type of training should be completed as explosively as possible with no rest between repetitions.

Weighted Power

I have titled the second method "weighted power." It describes the method perfectly. It entails using lighter than maximal loads while attempting to lift the weight as fast as possible. Scientists have known for years that lifting loads lighter than maximal as quickly as possible recruits a high number of fast-twitch muscle fibers and trains the nervous system to recruit them in a synchronized fashion.

Opinions have varied on what percentage of one repetition maximum is best for use in order to develop power. Wilson et al. in 1993 performed a study to determine what percentage of one repetition maximum was most beneficial for increasing an athlete's power. They found that 30% of one repetition maximum was optimal for such training.

Like most aspects of training each individual will achieve the best results with slightly different loads, however for the time being I suggest starting with 30% of one repetition maximum (some athletes benefit from using up to 50% of 1RM but any more tends to slow down the movement, causing sub optimal power generation). Calculate your one repetition maximum (1RM) by clicking here!

It is during this type of training that the previous maximal strength phase is of real benefit. The key to developing power in the weighted power method is to overcome the resistance provided by the loaded barbell (or dumbbell).

The stronger one is the more forcefully one can overcome this resistance and propel the barbell upward. However overcoming the initial resistance of the barbell is only half of the equation. Once the initial resistance is overcome the athlete must concentrate on accelerating the barbell right through the finish, not letting momentum itself finish the movement.

Exercises such as weighted jump squats, one leg weighted jump squats, cleans and push presses are good exercises for this particular method as they involve the prime movers most often used during hockey.

Dynamic (Ballistic)

The plyometric method involves overcoming the weight of one's body. The weighted power method involves overcoming 30% of one's one repetition maximum. As you might have guessed, the dynamic or ballistic method falls somewhere between the two. It involves using the prime movers to propel objects such as medicine balls, surgical tubing and track and field shots as far as possible.

To do so one has to overcome the initial resistance of the object by firing as many fast-twitch muscle fibers as possible and continue to do so throughout the entire movement. In contrast to the weighted power method where the barbell moves at a medium pace even though the athlete is trying to lift it as fast as possible, the resistance in the dynamic method is light enough to move the objects quickly.

Often the resistance falls between 7 - 25lbs. The dynamic method uses exercises that tax the prime movers as well as the body's core. Such exercises include medicine ball overhead backward throws, medicine ball overhead front throws, medicine ball side throws, and medicine ball chest throws.

It is extremely important that repetitions for all power training methods mentioned above are performed in an explosive manner. Sets should be terminated if repetitions begin to slow (even the slightest bit) as continuing will only teach the muscles how to move slowly. Fighting through fatigue while maintaining one's speed will be the goal of the next type of training, power endurance.

Power Endurance

Training for power is extremely important for obtaining skating speed, however it is also important to maintain that speed throughout an entire shift. That is why training for power endurance is critical.

Training for power endurance involves using loads of 25-30% of ones one rep maximum and doing 10-30 repetitions consecutively in as powerful a manner as possible. This is extremely tough to do when first tackled which is why one should start off with reps of 10 and gradually move up in number until the desired repetitions are met.

The exercises used should be those that tax the prime movers and are sport specific. For hockey, this means using exercises such as barbell jump squats, dumbbell jump squats, split lunge jumps and push presses.

It is key to maintain quickness and power throughout every repetition so that the body's fast-twitch muscle fibers do not fatigue and consequently recruit the slower slow-twitch muscle fibers. Rest intervals and concentration are key in every set, as the speed of movement must remain high in order to develop substantial power endurance.

Anaerobic Conditioning

At this point in time we should have made some improvements in our anaerobic conditioning from the bike training done during the previous six weeks. It is now time to move onto the ice for some sport specific training. Since the forward hockey stride is used most often during a game (70-80%) it is what should be used for anaerobic conditioning.

Anaerobic conditioning for a hockey player is not all that different from a wide receiver in football or a sprinter in track in that sprinting is the tool used. Straight ahead, full bore sprinting; moving the feet as quickly as possible without breaking good skating form.

The goal is to make each stride quick and powerful while gradually building up power endurance on the ice. During this phase of training it is crucial to get onto the ice, however if this is not possible than skating sprints can be substituted with running sprints or bike sprints, although the carryover onto the ice will not be as beneficial as if the training were performed on the ice.

As mentioned earlier the goal is to make each stride extremely powerful. This can only be achieved if the ATP/PC stores are near complete replenishment. Therefore the work to rest ratio should be no lower than 1:20. So if a sprint takes 3 seconds to complete, the rest time should be at least a 60 seconds in length.

Aerobic Conditioning

The same rules apply to aerobic conditioning that applied to anaerobic conditioning in that it is crucial to get on the ice. In contrast to anaerobic conditioning, aerobic conditioning should consist of forward skating, cross overs, backward skating, as well as moving laterally.

As you may have guessed, the work to rest ratio is much lower during aerobic conditioning. In fact it should be roughly 1:1 or 1:2. An example of this is skating at 65-80% of maximum for 20 seconds and than coasting/resting for another 20-40 seconds.


The Program

Now let's go ahead and incorporate all these excellent techniques into one comprehensive program. If you are unfamiliar with some of the movements, perhaps you should invest in a good plyometric training book or check around the Internet for pictures. It would be an excellent investment of money.

Monday

Plyometrics and Aerobic Conditioning
Exercise Video Sets Reps
Standing Broad Jump (wvx)
(mpg)
(ram)
3 6
Stair Jumps (wvx)
(mpg)
(ram)
2 6
Depth Jumps
(12-18 inches)
(wvx)
(mpg)
(ram)
2 6
Reactive Jumps
(12-18 inches)
(wvx)
(mpg)
(ram)
3 6
Reactive Jumps Over Bench/Box (wvx)
(mpg)
(ram)
3 6
25-30 minutes skating at 60-65% max HR
Rest Interval: 3-5 min.

Windows Media Player = (wvx) Quicktime = (mpg)

Real Media Player = (ram)

Tuesday

Anaerobic Conditioning (On-Ice Sprints)
Exercise [see map below] Sets
Goal Line to Hash Marks [1] 3
Goal Line to Blue Line [2] 3
Goal Line to Red Line [3] 3
Goal Line to Far Blue Line [4] 3
Goal Line to End Goal Line [5] 3
(Starts / Stops can also be used to develop stopping and starting power during this phase)
Work:Rest Ratio 1:20


[ Click here to see each drill's distance on the ice. ]

Wednesday

Weighted Power (30% of one rep max)
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Squat Jumps * 4-5 4-8
Bench Press 3 4-8
Cleans 4 4-8
Push Press 4 4-8
Rest Interval: 3-5 min

* This photo illustrates the movement without the barbell.

Thursday

Aerobic Conditioning (On Ice)
Exercise Sets Reps
Sprints (15 sec)
60-80% of MAX
3 8
Coasts (30 sec) 3 8
Each rep = 45 sec; 45 sec x 8 reps = 6 min per set
Rest Ratio 1:1 or 1:2 or take 3-5 min break

Friday

Dynamic (Ballistic) Power
Exercise Sets Reps
Medicine Ball Squat Between Leg Over Head Throws 2-3 8
Medicine Ball Squat Between Leg Forward Throws 3 6-8
Medicine Ball Side Throws 3 6-8
Medicine Ball Squat Chest Throws 2-3 6-8
Rest Interval: 3-5 min

Saturday

Power Endurance (30% of one rep max)
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Squat Jumps * 3 6-8(wk1)
12(wk2)
16(wk3)
20-30(wk4)
Bench Press 3 8(wk1)
12(wk2)
16(wk3)
20-30(wk4)
Standing Broad Jumps 3 6-8(wk1)
12(wk2)
16(wk3)
20-30(wk4)
Rest Interval: 5 min

* This photo illustrates the movement without the dumbbells.

Sunday

OFF


Review Of The Program

The program is fairly simple - workouts go from Monday to Saturday, taking Sunday totally off. Planning so that at least 24 hours of rest is taken between workouts is crucial for recovery and to avoiding overtraining/underrecovering.

Warming up is highly individual in this type of training. However I suggest 5-10 minutes of dynamic type of warm-up activities to increase nervous system stimulation without obtaining fatigue.

Sets need only be increased if the athlete feels the prescribed numbers are too low for maximum benefit. One must be careful here not to overtrain. Importantly, repetitions do not need to be increased for Dynamic, Weighted or Plyometric days. As you progress, don't increase reps but do attempt to do the same number of repetitions more explosively. The only time repetitions should definitely be increased is during the power endurance workouts.

It is during this workout that athletes must focus strongly on blocking out the pain of lactic acid build up and concentrate on moving explosively. Rest intervals are key so don't cut them short. This time is needed for restoration of ATP/PC stores so that subsequent sets can be performed in an explosive manner.


Final Thoughts

Just because this program does not entail using heavy weights, don't let that fool you. Training for power can be extremely taxing on the nervous system. Because of this, make sure to get plenty of rest and the appropriate nutrition.

Remember, the goal of training for power is to become more explosive. If you need an extra few seconds, minutes or even an extra day of rest, take it. It is far more beneficial to complete three excellent days of power training than four haphazard ones.

If you follow this program you shall develop enough power and speed to burn by a few defensemen on the ice, similar to the way Maverick did a fly-by of the tower. The only difference will be that your speed may put a defensemen in his coach's doghouse, while Maverick's speed caused the tower chief to spill his coffee. But hey, it only looks like you're flying on the ice.

Be sure to also check out:

[ Part 1 ] Part 2 ]