Q&A: Timing your stretches & Protein powder for hockey players

Ready for another awesome week?  Can you feel the excitement as the hockey season creeps closer?  Any thoughts on what will happen with the NHL?  Tell me what you think in the comments section below, I will tell you what I think right now – I think best case scenario the season is a few weeks late to get started.

Although I think the players union had some interesting ideas in their proposal, I can’t imagine the league is looking to make a complete shift in the current paradigm (and doing so would take months of research and analyses).  So this makes me nervous that the two sides are so far apart in terms of philosophy, that this could get bad. Fingers crossed that they figure it out.

Paul and I had a great weekend, we were in Toronto on Friday night to see Bruce Springsteen.  It was one of those perfect summer evenings with a lovely breeze and the roof of the SkyDome open.  It was my fifth time seeing The Boss and he has never disappointed – 3 hours and 40 minutes of non-stop awesomeness.  Kept me up WAY past my bedtime, but once ever few years, that is okay 🙂

So it has been a while since we have done a Q&A, so let me dive into my mailbox and see what’s up…

Your hockey training questions answered…

Q: Hi my name is B.D. and i have just started your program.  I have a question about the  stretching.  We do dynamic stretches to warm up before a game and workouts because static stretching relaxes the muscle, so I think I have that right so far and here is the question I have.  How come we do our flexibility workout before our strength training.  I have no complaints about the program just a little confused about this part.  Thank you for your time and your awesome program.

A: This is a great question DB as concepts often filter down from the strength and conditioning professionals through to best practices in a more traditional or mainstream setting.

The concept in the mainstream setting is that dynamic stretching before training ‘zaps’ your strength and power – like Superman and kryptonite.  The truth is, we may have over-reacted with that whole thing, it really is not as bad as we thought.

You can read all the nitty gritty about the exact why and how – HERE – but if you just wan the abridged version, here it is:

  • Static stretching can reduce your peak force production and thus decrease your peak power output (slightly)
  • Our athletes need more flexibility.
  • If a dynamic warm up follows the static stretching, the reduction in peak force and power are abated.
  • Our athletes like the way it feels.

Soon enough this too will be mainstream DB, just like Kettlebells and foam rolling.  Glad you are enjoying the program – happy training.

Q: Hi Maria,
I have recently purchased items (almost everything) off your website. It has been a 2 day shopping spree. Yes, I should get out more

My son is a 15 year old rep level goalie, and I retired from playing net last year.

I am hoping to help him do some off-ice training over the summer, and maybe get back to playing myself.

I have a question for you about supplements.

I have always prided myself in making sure that the kids eat well, and have stressed eating properly to both of them their entire lives.
I am not fond of supplements or energy drinks and I have told them to stay away from them. The reality is that I do not know enough about them and don’t have time to do all the research on them.

In one of your videos you mentioned that at night while sleeping your body is trying to repair the muscle damage that has occurred during on-ice or regular training sessions. This combined with a friend (fitness nut) who recently recommended something called Whey powder mix to assist with muscle repair (not bulk).

I was curious if you recommend sticking with chocolate milk after a workout or switching to the whey powder mix? Or perhaps you have a different suggestion to aid in muscle recovery?

Please let me know.


A: Thanks for including my off-ice training programs in your shopping spree – enjoy!

I completely agree with you about the so-called energy drinks, I wish they would stop showing guys in the NHL with those big cans in the locker room.

In terms of supplements, I think there are some useful ones and some downright dangerous ones.  Whey protein (along with a carbohydrate source) is a useful one, but it really comes down to convenience Rob.  There are also other types of protein powder you can get – some athletes get stomach upset from whey protein, but they are okay with a vegetable source of protein.

There is nothing special about whey protein (just milk based protein) but it is in a convenient form.  You can put some in your gym bag and away you go.  I think the chocolate milk after workout is just fine.  He could also have a bagel and peanut butter or cottage cheese and pineapple, etc.

Where I find the shakes helpful is when kids are having trouble getting sufficient calories to maintain or gain muscle mass.  You can make a calorie-dense shake that is a little less intimidating than saying – okay kid, sit down and eat this 1/2 chicken.  It is also good for kids who are on the go so much that it really is unreasonable to expect that they will pack their cooler for the day.  I did a post on the shake I have for breakfast everyday – see the link below.  It shows the protein powder that I like to use because it has no soya protein, no artificial flavours, no artificial sweeteners and no gluten.   You can see how I make the shake HERE.

If you do decide to go this route, just make sure the powder includes protein and carbohydrates (with roughly twice the carbs compared to the protein – some of the bodybuilder stuff has very little carb and an athlete training for hockey needs the carbs).

Another brand I have used in the past is Muscle Milk for kids who have trouble gaining mass – that one tastes pretty good, but has artificial flavours.

The times when I recommend players take the shakes – if they are really skinny and have trouble gaining weight, typically we go like this – half serving in the morning with breakfast (250cal or so) – full serving after training (500 cal or so) – sometimes half serving before bed.

At this stage I would stay away from any of the Branched Chain Amino Acid, Creatine, Beta Alanine products.  I think they all work and I think they are all  relatively safe, but I don’t think it is what a player at this age needs.

So #1 – eat properly (like your son already does), #2 – train hard, doing the right things (check)  #3 – make sure you are getting enough nutritional building blocks to make the most of your training.

I hope that helps – thanks for the question.

The Rules…

So there are a few of the questions I have had over the last month – there are a lot more in my email that have come in over the summer, so I will try to knock them off over the next few weeks.  If you have a question, I am always happy to answer it for you.

Here are “The Rules of Asking a Question”

  1. The BEST place to ask is always in the comments section below each post, this way when I post the answer, everyone can see.
  2. Please make your question specific i.e. please do not ask – “What should I do for training to be the best I can be?”  As you can imagine, the answer will be different based on what you are doing right now.  So tell me what you are doing for your current training (and if you are not doing anything at all, please tell me that as well).
  3. Please realize that I create training programs for a living – this is how I keep the roof over my head.  I get a lot of emails that go something like this – “Hey Maria, could you just put together a program for me that will help improve my strength, speed, stamina and stop my back from hurting so much.  I would like to train 5 days per week and I don’t want to do the same workout twice.  Tuesdays, I would like to go to the track, so if you could tell me exactly what to do that would be great – thanks”.   I am so sorry, but it takes me about 1-2 hours to come up with workouts for my current clients and you know that I am not just a cut and paste kind of gal.  If you want to send along a copy of what you have been doing for the past 6-weeks of training, I am always willing to review it and make a few suggestions.
  4. Please understand, that it may take me a few days to get back to you.  I typically try to stay off my email on Saturdays and sometimes I just get swamped with my private clients, so give me a chance to get back to you.  If you do not hear back from me within a week, that is weird, you should probably send your email through again.

Have a great day all!