Best rep range for goalie off-ice training.

Off ice training for hockey

Make the most of your off-season goalie training.

Hope you are having a great week – happy to see the Canucks move through to the cup final (sorry to my friend Jonny the HUGE Sharks fan).  Now I am hoping for Boston to go through and then of course the Canucks to win the Cup!  Who are you cheering for?

I want to get a little rivalry fired up on the site here, so let’s make a deal – if at least 15 of you post whom you are cheering for in the comments section below I will post the Stanley Cup picture that goes along with the one on the left (I may or may not be drinking beer out of it) – how would that be?  But if I don’t get at least 15 of you to commit to a team, then the deal is off and that one gets locked back in the vault!  Now on to the business of the day….

Rep range for goalie off-ice drills.

I share a lot of goalie training exercises with you here on the blog and I get asked “How many sets and reps of those should I do?”  This is a tough one to answer because it really depends on your goals and the phase of the off-season.

It is like asking a doctor for the ‘best’ dose of Tylenol.  If you just got run over by a car, the best dose might be 15 (not that I am saying you should take 15 Tylenols).  If you just stubbed your toe, the best dose might be one.

I am going to try and explain the rep ranges you will use during the different phases of your off-season training so you can target the goals of each phase.

Early Off-Season Goalie Training

I use this phase as my Foundation phase where I want to ensure adequate mobility, core stability and connective tissue strength. So for my big muscle exercises I stay in the 12-15 rep range for 3 sets and I emphasize the lowering phase of the exercise.

For example if we are doing Split Squats (static lunges) then we would do 15 on each side and spend 3-4 seconds on the eccentric (lowering) phase of the exercise.

This ensures that the athlete cannot get lifting too much weight so early in the off-season when the connective tissue and the stabilizers are at their weakest.

Phase Two

During the second phase of the off-season, for the big muscle exercises (squats, presses, rows) we go to slightly heavier loads and will move the rep range to the 8-12 rep range.  I like to use a descending pyramid during this phase of 12-10-8 reps over the three sets or later in this phase I will go 10-8-6 reps.

Tempos increase a bit with approximately 2 seconds to lower the weight and 2 seconds to lift the weight.

When we do stabilization exercises (rotator cuff, hip stability), the volume stays high because the stabilizer needs to be smart and have stamina to maintain fine control of the joint.  So these exercises will stay in the 12-15 rep range for 2-3 sets.

Phase Three- Max Strength for Goalies

Now is when we start lifting heavy – the goal is to maximize the amount of weight a player can lift with perfect form in exercises which require stabilization (no machine based exercises) such as front squats, single leg squats, standing cable presses, chin ups, etc.

You have to be careful to balance out the risk/reward ratio during this phase, so I do not have athletes lifting in the 1-2 rep range.  My off-ice training programs have hockey players go for 4 sets of their big muscle exercises working in the 3-5 rep range.  Again, remember that your players are training to technical failure, not muscle failure.  Once a player cannot complete the exercise with perfect form, they will stop the set.

Stabilization exercises will still be completed in the 8-15 rep range, I do not do things like 3 rep max of shoulder external rotation.  I may also include some instability training in this phase, such as a single leg squat on the flat side of a BOSU, but that exercise will also be at a higher rep range 8-12 as more of a stabilization exercise than a max strength option.

Phase Four -Goalie Power Training

This is where it all comes together – we take all of that stability and strength and teach the hockey player to exert their force as quickly as possible to boost their power.   Quality is the key here – if your hockey players are fatiguing to the point that they can no longer execute the power moves quickly, they you are not making your players quicker.

So for my main power exercises like cleans I use 3-4 sets of 2-4 reps.  For plyometric drills I work in the 6-8 rep range when power is my goal.

I hope this sheds some light on how your rep range will change through your hockey off-season training program.  Creating a safe and effective training program is much like creating a wonderful recipe.  Two people may be given the exact same ingredients to work with, but one chef may create a wonderful  meal where the other schmuck may create a horror!  It is not just the ingredients that matter, but the way they are put together to create the desired outcome.