Ice hockey is one of the most physically demanding sports for athletes to play. It requires speed, dexterity and stamina. Hockey players must hone and maintain these skills both on and off the ice with targeted fitness routines. A hockey player's workout features exercises that condition the body for explosiveness, quick reaction time and muscular endurance.
Programming the Workout
Hockey players must train for explosive bursts of speed and power. If you want to train like a hockey player, your workout routine should concentrate on sport-specific exercises and interval training. That means you're performing exercises that force you to deliver short bursts of maximum power. This type of fitness program conditions your body to withstand muscle fatigue and deliver power when you need it the most. Be sure to give yourself ample rest between exercises and only work out three to four times a week. Rich Hesketh, the strength and conditioning coach for the Calgary Flames, recommends a two-hour program of comprehensive exercises coupled with a high-protein diet.
In the Weight Room
Start with the front squat, your most difficult load-bearing exercise and then progress down to the easier exercises. Load the barbell with medium to heavy weighted plates. Be sure to keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor during the duration of the exercise. Do two to three sets and be sure to rest for a few minutes in between. Follow this exercise with a few sets of the single leg front squat. Strength and conditioning specialist Sean Skahan recommends the single leg front squat as a way for hockey players to prevent injury and develop single leg skating power. Next, do two to three sets of a single leg deadlift with a medium weight dumbbell or kettlebell. Again, keep your back straight and slowly move through the deadlift position to prevent injury. Conclude your weight-room routine with three to five sets of pullups, followed by front and side planks.
On the Ice
As hockey players move across the ice, they push with their legs and glide. To develop fluidity and acceleration, it is important to practice both speed and endurance drills on the ice. Start in the center of the neutral zone, on the red line that bisects the ice and sprint to the blue line, the edge of the neutral zone. Next, sprint from the goal line to the blue line. The next phase of your workout is called the half-ice, all-out drill. Start at the goal line and skate backward along the wall until you reach center ice. Then skate forward as fast as you can down the ice toward the far dot. Make a tight turn around the dot and skate backward toward the red circle. Quickly shift to a forward position, skate around the circle and sprint back along the red goal line until you reach the starting position.
Cross-Training On the Track
Track and field exercises will break the monotony of training on the ice and help you stay active during the offseason. On your cardio workout days, start with a 10-yard sprint. Rest for just a few minutes and then do a 30-yard sprint. Work on your muscular endurance by doing shuttle runs. Place five cones approximately 10 yards apart. Sprint to the first cone and back, then sprint to the second cone and back. Continue this pattern until you sprint to the last cone. Do three to five sets of this drill. Be sure to rest between sets. You can finish up your cardio running drills by doing a one-mile run around the track.