When is it okay for hockey goalies to gain weight?

What if your off-ice goalie training is making you heavier?

I had a ‘complaint’ the other day from one of the athletes in my Elite Goalie Strength & Conditioning online coaching program.  This player told me that the off-ice goalie training program I created for him was not working.  He was getting heavier and he was not happy about it!  I, on the other hand was thrilled.

It was easy for me to settle him down because I knew the right questions to ask and I knew what his answers would be since he was a very dedicated goalie and I knew he was following the program to the letter.  Here is a rundown of what I asked him and what he said – we’ll call him I.R. (Irate Goalie) for short:

Maria: Are your clothes fitting tighter – like are your pants tight?

I.R.: No, in fact my pants used to be a little tight in the waist at the end of the season and now they feel a little loose if I don’t wear a belt.

Maria: And how are your times on the 300 meter shuttle runs – are they getting slower?  (300m shuttle runs are a test I use for anaerobic lactic testing – basically you run back and forth between two cones set 25 meters apart six time, that is where the 300m comes from)

I.R.: No, in fact they are getting much better.  I have taken about 10 seconds off my last test.

Maria:  Hmmmm, okay, that is curious – what about when you are on the ice – you must feel really heavy and probably have more trouble recovering to your ready position am I right?

I.R.: Well, actually no, I feel really great on the ice.  My lateral movements are way quicker, I don’t get a sore lower back anymore and I can pop right up out of my butterfly now which I could never do before.

I think you get the idea…although he had gained weight, his answers all suggest that the weight gain has had a positive effect on him.  So I asked him why he was so troubled by the numbers on the scale.  And his answer was one I hear quite often from athletes in all sports.  Some athletes believe or are told by their coaches that gaining weight will make them slow.

3 Ways dryland goalie training can make you heavy.

Now before you go put a double cheeseburger on the grill, let’s look at the different ways and athlete can gain weight.

1.       They can add fat.  Even this can be good or bad, some athletes are too skinny.  We need a basic amount of fat to sustain our health – including building hormones.  But in an athlete that does not need this extra dose of fat this is not a good thing.

2.       They can add muscle.  If the muscle is added by following a bodybuilders program with six sets of biceps curls, machine pec fly and triceps kickbacks then this is not good either.  Because this style of training adds bulk but does not enhance performance.

Adding big dumb muscles to your frame will not turn you into the reactive, dynamic, agile goalie you need to be – – it might make you look better when you take your clean dry equipment off in the locker room after the game.  Funny how your equipment doesn’t get as sweaty when you are sitting on the bench.

So the secret there is to add muscle that is usable muscle by training through patterns that enhance the goalies ability to player their position effectively.  Exercises that require movement in several planes, exercises that load the stabilizers and exercises that enhance acceleration and deceleration.

3.       They can also add fat and muscle.  If this is the case then you may just need to adjust the amount of food or the quality of food that is being consumed.  If you are following a good functional goalie training program and seeing results but still gaining fat, then look at everything you eat for three days and look for what does not fit – I am sure it will literally jump off the page at you.  Fries are not a vegetable, broccoli is.  Coke is not for hydration, water is.

Getting back to the goalie from my Elite Goalie Strength & Conditioning online training program, he was seeing improved performance and reduced body fat, so he was in the second category.  I have no problem with this weight gain, as long as the player feels good on the ice.  With experience you can discover exactly where you feel your best and the goal should never be to add muscle mass (even if it is functional) just for the sake of adding mass.

But in this case, the player is feeling great so his fear of adding weight was like a someone worrying about the V8 engine in their sports car which delivers way more horsepower than the V6 adding too much weight to the car.

You wouldn’t drive your Corvette around with bricks in the trunk, so don’t add junk to your trunk by eating crappy food and skipping your energy system training.  Train for performance, train for your position and fuel that off-ice goalie training with good quality building blocks.