Are you strong enough for the ice?

There used to be a myth that lifting heavy weights would make an athlete bulky and that lifting lighter weights for higher repetitions was the way to go.  This is completely false, yet it seems to still exist in a few populations, female athletes and hockey goalies.

Lifting light weights for high reps builds muscular endurance, Let’s think about what you need to do to be successful.  You need to stop the puck.  If you face 50 shots in a game, that is quite a few (I know some of you see WAY more than that), but at 50 shots in a game, that is less than one save per minute.  Does that sound like an endurance activity or a power activity?

There will always be crossover and I know that you are tracking the puck and staying in position to cut down the angles and take away the net but you earn your keep by consistently following the quick movements of the puck so you can be in the right place at the right time.

You do not need to train like a marathoner, you need to train like a sprinter.  Sprinters are strong and powerful.

Notice I did not say that you need to train like a Strongman.  The Strongman is strong and slow, you need to be strong and fast.

How do you get that way?  Well, you follow a training progression like I laid out in the Performance Pyramid video and when you get to the Max Strength phase, you do 3-4 sets of 2-6 reps of you compound exercises like squat variations, deadlift variations, pushes and pulls.

You do not have to do max strength on your stabilization exercises, because those muscles actually do need more endurance.

How Strong Is Strong Enough?

This is a good question and the answer for me is, when the risk outweighs the reward.  I have trained players who can squat the lights out, but I don’t even go beyond 300lbs with them.  To me the risk outweighs the reward.

I can find more challenging exercises for these players that put less stress on their spine while adding more challenge to their stabilizers, like the single leg squats I talked about yesterday or reverse lunges..  Do I care if they can Bench 300lbs?  Not at all.  If they are going to be tested at 165lbs, then I want them to be able to put up lots of reps at 165, but beyond that, we will use dumbbells or cable columns to develop that stable strength (still working in the low 2-6 rep range).

Will Heavy Weight Training Reduce Your Flexibility?

If you are using a well designed functional training program, then you will not lose mobility because your training will take you through patterns that open your hips in different planes of motion, so not only are you building your strength, you are teaching your body to use that strength in different movement patterns.

So you will be stronger and more stable through your movements – sounds like a good thing doesn’t it?  When I had the chance to hear Colorado Avalanche strength and conditioning coach Casey Bond speak at the recent National Strength and Conditioning Association national conference, he was asked his thoughts on off-ice training for goalies.

He made two points:

1. They need to be great athletes first and foremost

2. They spend too much time working on their stretching (and maybe not enough working on other things)

I am not suggesting that you should not stretch, it is a part of the equation, just like your strength, stability, speed and stamina training, just work on getting the proportions right and disregard the thought that strength training will reduce your flexibility.  The right kind of strength training, as I described above will actually improve your mobility on the ice (that is the amount of your flexibility you can actually use on the ice).  A few months ago I shared this video showing you some of these strengthening/stretching exercises.

Bottom Line…

You are an athlete – a repeat sprinter.  You need to be strong.  The stronger you are the faster you will be assuming that you are following a well designed program.  So the goal of getting stronger for you is to eventually convert that strength into power.

Do not ever make your goal to just add more and more strength.  You could be crazy strong on the leg press, but that does nothing to improve that stability and single leg strength you need on the ice.  So build your base strength, but then instead of continuing to just add more plates, look for ways to increase the demand for stabilization.

Here is a sample progression for a squatting motion…

  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
  • Single Leg Squat To Tap
  • Single Leg Squat To Tap Off Box

See how you can great increase the challenge without increasing the load?


PS – don’t forget that after Sunday you will no longer be able to purchase the Ultimate Goalie Training VIP package.  I will open it up again at some point, probably in a few months, but not until then.  So if you want the UGT 3.0 AND Suspension Training For Goalies, Bodyweight Training for Goalies, access to the private Member’s Only Forum (which gives you direct access to me) and monthly webinars on the topics of your choice, then Sunday is your last chance and right now you can get started for only $49.  I will probably open it again in the next year, just not sure when.

off ice hockey training for goalies