Posts Tagged ‘conditioning’

Summer’s are fun because of the nice weather, the chance to go boating or golfing as well as taking a road trip or vacation.

However summer is also the time for making big gains in your hockey training. It’s the time to address nagging injuries that you couldn’t deal with completely during a playoff push. It’s the time to put on the mass that helps you control your space and impose your will more easily on your opponent. And it’s the time to be able to focus on the recovery between training sessions.

There are lots of great reasons to look forward to the summer.

But as we see with many of our players they also like to take some time and get away. As well, they also have friends who spend their off-seasons elsewhere. And when they come through Kelowna they know they have a place to come and train.

They don’t have to settle for local ‘meat-head’ gym where the squat racks are busier with guys doing biceps curls than they are for squatting.

They don’t have to settle for the local community gyms that prefer that every lift be done slow and controlled. Plyos, med balls throws and Olympic lifts would be out of the question.

Besides hockey players that roll through town in the summer we are also a common training centre for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team. So you may cross paths with snowboarders and skiers all trying to shine in Sochi in 2014.

But anyways we want to make this same offer available to our friends of onsidehockeytraining.

So if you are a subscriber of this site you are considered a friend of Okanagan Peak Performance, which is the physical home of our athlete training centre. And therefore I want to welcome you to access our facility when you are in the Kelowna area.

So how do you take advantage of this offer?

Simply leave me a comment on this blog and I can let our staff in Kelowna know to welcome when you are passing through.

We have almost 2500 square feet with four racks and platforms, 5 benches, over 3000 lbs of weights, TRX, GHD, slideboards, sandbags, kettlebells, sleds, battling ropes, plyo boxes, bands, tubing and lots of other toys. Basically everything an athlete needs and nothing they don’t.

Take a look at the pictures below to see what the facility looks like.

























Besides the great location and equipment we also provide towel service, training and recovery drinks to our training clients. And for our hockey players we include weekly massages with their training to enhance the recovery process.

The last thing to mention about our facility, and maybe the best feature, is the people. Not only do we work with some amazing athletes we also have a great staff here. They’re all about making sure our clients have the best experience possible.

So if you have plans to be in BC this summer hopefully you can stop by and get in a training session or two.


It’s pretty much accepted in athletic training circles to go through a thorough warm-up prior to training or competition. I mean other than the meat heads that do their beach workouts, most athletes will spend some time warming up. In the industry we are all aware that warm-ups are beneficial for a number of reasons but until you actually compare a workout with and without a thorough warm-up it can difficult to tell the difference. This was the case last Saturday when I met some hockey players for a sand dune conditioning workout.

One of the players had asked to leave early for a previous commitment. It was a family commitment and he did ask ahead of time so I thought I would allow it this time. Now we wouldn’t have a lot of time to workout so we got right to it.

Before I carry on I have to say that I definitely don’t advocate training without a complete and thorough warm-up. And by warm-up I mean foam rolling, general warm-up on a bike or a light jog, a dynamic warm-up, some mobility drills for the ankles, hips and t-spine, some core activations and anything that may be necessary to get everything ready to do some work.

As well, we went straight into the workout because I know this athlete, I know how his body moves, I know his fitness level and his training history. Combine this with the fact the sand dunes would be uphill and thus take out the effects of gravity. As well the soft, deep sand cushions his strides as he climbs the hill.

So we proceeded into the workout. Again we are in a conditioning phase of the training so nothing was explosive or high tempo. Basically just an early morning workout that is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I say that because at the bottom of the dune the heart rate begins to climb before we’ve even taken one step. The sympathetic nervous is doing its job and heart rate begins to climb as a result.

As we round the top of the dune I make of the players’ time and we begin the descent down gravel path back to the start. The one player heads off for his function and we meet up with the rest of the group just showing up.

So some of players in this first group are going to do the climb a second time. They didn’t know this was the plan. And they don’t like the idea of doing it a second time. They did the first climb as though it was the last difficult training task for the day and weekend. Now they find out they have to do it all over a second time.

For the second attempt we run back up the gravel path for a few minutes. For there we get into a dynamic warm-up, some leg swings, a few skip drills and finish with some acceleration drills. After walking back to the start it’s time for a quick sip of water and ascent number 2.

On the second attempt the group averaged 15% faster than the first attempt. I was shocked! I didn’t expect the effects of a proper warm-up to transfer so effectively to a conditioning workout. Especially on a pre-fatigued group. Usually in the literature the benefits are portrayed as the ability to generate power. For example, a quick check of the recent research articles put out by the NSCA looks at the effect of dynamic warm-ups on jumping, agility, sprinting or anything else that is powerful and of short duration. Basically the exact opposite of a sand dune workout.

So what’s the point of all this? Well basically it reaffirms what we are doing. And it reinforces the necessity of dynamic warm-up prior to all training. I’d also go so far as to say that if pressed for time I would ensure a thorough warm-up at the expense of cutting a set or two on the training room floor rather than vice versa.


The other day I was working with an athlete and he was doing some complexes. Complexes are when you use the same load on a bar and rotate through a number of exercises before putting the bar down. For example on this particular day he was doing dead-lifts, to bent-over rows, to cleans, to military presses, to good-mornings and finishing with back squats. He would complete all the movements of one exercise before proceeding to the next exercise. If you’ve never used complexes in your training before start slowly. They are very taxing and you’ll need to select a weight based on the weakest movement of the sequence. For example if the military press is the weakest movement of the six listed you will select the weight based on your ability and strength for that exercise.

So what’s the big deal with complexes? Why would we look to incorporate them into our workouts? Well, for a number of reasons.

First of all I like the amount of work that can be accomplished in a particular time. This is referred to as training density. If we use a load of 100 lbs and perform 6 reps of each exercise, for a total of 36 reps, then each set results in 3600 lbs of work. Each set takes approximately 75 seconds to complete when you use a smooth tempo of one second for the eccentric and one second for the concentric. Performing 5 sets takes less than 15 minutes with 90 second rest breaks.Not a bad investment in time for 18,000 lbs of total work.

Secondly this style of training works really when training two athletes of equal strength. The work to rest ratio is 1:1.2 or a little more than a 1:1. If you’re worked with athletes, specifically younger ones, you know there are times when they may become distracted either by the young blonde on the elliptical or just as an excuse to lengthen their rest breaks. When using complexes in this way as one is performing a set the other is resting. As the one performing the set finishes there are exactly 18 seconds for the other athlete to address the bar, get themselves set and begin. There are no opportunities to slow down.

Thirdly, this is much preferred method of conditioing our athletes than performing long, slow steady-state cardio. Our better conditioned athletes will almost be able to stay aerobic throughout the drill whereas the lessor conditioned ones will be huffing and puffing a bit more. But with this work to rest to ratio ratio we can get some conditioning work while still addressing their lifts and technique on these lifts.

Lastly I like using complexes because they are ground based. The athlete is doing the work from a standing position and requires stability in all planes as the bar moves through a sequence of movements. From a standing a position the athlete is developing ground-based strength. They are on their feet and become more in tune with their position and balance relative to the ground while handling load.

One thing I think we’ll try next time will be to mark the outline of the athlete’s feet in chalk the next time we perform our complexes. Why would we do this? Well the feet provide the cues to what is happening through the rest of the kinetic chain. Is one foot externally rotating more than the other? Is one foot advancing ahead of the other? Does the athlete take a half step as they transition from one movment to the next? Where do both feet end up at the end of the movenent?

With complexes you will see a pattern more quickly because you will have 36-42 or 48 reps to monitor the movement. If you did the same test with a 3 rep squat set you may not see much of an effect. After a 48 rep complex you simply look at the ground before you rack the bar and check the final position of your feet relative to the chalk outline and you will quickly and easily see which side is compensating, in what way and by how much. Your job then is to address this compensation.

The more we train hockey players to generate ground-based strength and power the better. If you’re going to give complex training a shot start slowly. Use 50% of the load of your weakest lift in the sequence and try 2-3 sets. And if you’re gym will allow it, trace the outline of your feet in chalk. And if your gym doesn’t allow chalk find a new gym.


Welcome to Onside Hockey Training

I guess the first question you might have is ‘Why should I visit this blog anyway? What is it going to do for me? Can’t I just visit any other fitness training site and get the information I need for training there?’ Let’s take a look at these questions here.

You should be visiting this blog if you are serious about being the best hockey player you can possibly be.  Our goal is to provide you with all the tools and information you need to improve yourself off-ice so you are a much better player on-ice. We accomplish this in two ways.

Firstly, we will help you identify where your weak links are and how to address them.  You might be thinking ‘I don’t have any weak links’ or ‘my body doesn’t hurt therefore everything is fine’.  Well, the thing is everybody has a compensation or weakness of some type. Imagine for a minute that you knew exactly what your opponent’s weak points were. Maybe they were poorly conditioned and would tire out by the 3rd period. Would you take it to them and force them to play an up-tempo game? Or maybe you knew that they had a goalie that tended to go down early. Would you use patience when shooting and go high? Or maybe you knew that the other team didn’t like a physical style of play and would shut down if they had to play this way? Would you play them physically? Of course you would. And your opponent would do the same to you.

So part of the reason to identify and correct your compensations and weaknesses is so that you have a more complete game.  It will be more difficult for your opponent to find a weakness to exploit as you have been proactive and addressed this already. But besides making it more difficult for your opponent there is another key reason to identifying and correcting your compensations and weaknesses.

This other reason is to help minimize the potential for injury. Hockey is an explosive and violent game with high speed collisions and battles. Anytime there is a collision your body must absorb and reduce the energy from the contact. A body that is in alignment and fires the right muscles at the right times will do a better job of reducing this energy than a body that is out of alignment or that fires the wrong muscles at the wrong times. And one of the keys to performing on the ice is actually being on the ice. Once you are on the IR you aren’t producing or improving.

But I don’t have any current aches or pain so I’m OK right? Maybe not.  Actually, probably not. Over the years I have yet to assess a hockey player that doesn’t have a compensation or weakness of some type. And I’m talking about the ‘healthy’ hockey players that are in the line-up and aren’t complaining of pain of any type. Well guess what? As soon as one side of the body is 15% different from the other the chance for injury goes way up! For example if one leg can lift to 76 degrees while on the back and the other lifts to 90 degrees there is more than 15% difference between the two and an increased chance of injury. Does this mean injury will definitely happen? No, there are no absolutes. But what it does mean is that the probability of an injury is much greater if left unaddressed than if the imbalance were corrected.  And if you are serious about being the best hockey player you can be then that involves addressing your weak points and compensations.

So thanks for stopping by and checking out Onside Hockey Training. Make sure you enter your email and grab a free copy of our report How to Become a Faster Hockey Player More Resilient to Injury. In this report you’ll learn:

  • Learn the style of exercise that most trainers use with their hockey players that not only doesn’t make them faster it actually makes them slower!
  • Discover what it is NHL hockey teams do to screen their players for the red flags which left unaddressed may lead to injury.
  • Find out the very best exercises to develop game breaking speed – And how most hockey players do them wrong!

So scroll to the top right hand side of the page, enter your email and get started on being the best hockey player you can be.