The Worst Cardio Training For Skaters

Good morning to be a Leafs fan – Kessel with a nice hat trick for  the win against Carlyle’s old team, the Ducks.  How’s your team doing so far this season?  Don’t worry it is early, they still have time to catch the Leafs – ha ha.

I know, I know, any day they will go on a 43-game losing streak, but let me enjoy the moment at least.

Okay, let’s get to business – I put this article together because with many of my off-ice training programs, players will email me and ask ‘what should I do for cardio, I don’t see any cardio training in your programs’.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, all of my off-ice programs include cutting edge cardio training techniques, but the workouts are actually fun and actually help you play better on the ice and you simply do not recognize them.  Let’s take a closer look…

How NOT To Do Your Cardio Training for Hockey…

How many of you look forward to doing the cardio portion of your hockey training?  How many of you relish the idea of strapping on your runners and going for a 3-5 mile run? How many of you find you are often ‘too busy’ to do your cardio training and skip it altogether?

From what I hear in my emails, a lot of you are doing it completely wrong.  You typically say something like, ‘I go for a 4-mile run three days per week, I don’t like it, but I know I am supposed to do it’.

Actually, you are NOT supposed to do it.

When you go for your 4-mile run it is hard, but it in no way resembles anything you do on the ice during a game.  That is why you will find high intensity intervals in the every new workout over at Hockey Workout Club, because that is what you need.

Want to increase your V02max (not sure that is important for hockey players as we think)?  Do high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Want to improve your anaerobic capacity so you can go hard for the entire shift?  Do HIIT.

Want to improve your insulin sensitivity so you can keep a more stable blood sugar level? Do HIIT.

Want to burn more fat for the 24-hours after your workout so you are not carrying around excess baggage on the ice and you may even get to see those six pack abs I showed you in THIS article?  Do HIIT.

Want to only train for ¼ of the time while getting more benefit?  Do HIIT.

It’s Time To Fire Your Cardio Routine

It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  Well let me tell you it is not.  Unlike a lot of fitness trends, this one is not based on hearsay.  This one is based on research and it has be proven time and time again to be more effective.

If you started today and did one hour of steady state (i.e. long boring) cardio, for six days per week for the next year – how much weight do you think you would lose?  23lbs?  47lbs? Would you be surprised if I told you the average was a measly 6lbs?

Now if your financial advisor was giving you returns like that, you would seriously be giving him or her the Donald Trump – ‘Your Fired!’  So it is clearly time to ‘fire’ your current cardio routine in favour of this one…You guessed it – a study that looked at individuals who did 300 hours of steady cardio training only lost on average 6lbs.  The women in the group only lost an average of 4lbs!

The man that started it all…

Every heard of Tabata Intervals?  Well Dr. Tabata is the guy who start all of this HIIT stuff – like the research looking at the impact of this style of training.  He actually researched the impact on Olympic level speed skaters and found dramatic improvements in their aerobic AND anaerobic capacity.  In this study athletes did either 2.5 hours of cardio training or 10 hours.  The 2.5 hour group had better results.

And if you do research like THAT, they name the protocol after you.

How to do Tabata-style training

Step 1.  Get a bucket and keep it near by, you might need it 🙁

Step 2.  Get ready…

Step 3.  Do either a dynamic warm up – you can find one HERE or 5-minutes of easy jogging, biking, slideboard, whatever.

Step 4.  Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds – that means high resistance, high tempo!

Step 5.  Go very, very, very easy for 10 seconds.

Step 6.  Repeat that 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.

Remember that the work interval is FULL OUT, not just hard, but ridiculously hard.

Then do your steady state…

In his research Dr. Tabata actually had his athletes do HIIT 4 days per week and then do 30-minutes of steady state training once per week.  This could be your flush ride.

I think I made the mistake of swinging too far in favour of HIIT when it was first ‘discovered’ a few years ago.  In talking with colleagues and taking into consideration the fatigue and waste products created with HIIT, I have started adding in one low impact intensity, low intensity steady state cardio session per week for some of my athletes.

The goal of this session is to improve their ability to clear the waste products of anaerobic metabolism.  What people call lactic acid, but it really isn’t.  This is still anecdotal, but my thinking is that this type of training will increase the capillary density in the working muscles and make it easier to ‘flush’ out the waste and bring oxygenated blood during high intensity work.

So HIIT 3-4 times per week + low intensity 1 time per week = hockey dominance

You might find these interesting if you want to learn more …

Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. (1996). “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max”. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28 (10): 1327–30.

Little, Jonathan P; Adeel S. Safdar, Geoffrey P. Wilkin, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, and Martin J. Gibala (2009). “A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms”. Journal of Physiology 588 (Pt 6): 1011–22.

Gibala, Martin J; Jonathan P. Little, Martin van Essen, Geoffrey P. Wilkin, Kirsten A. Burgomaster, Adeel Safdar, Sandeep Raha and Mark A. Tarnopolsky (September 15 2006). “Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance”. Journal of Physiology 575 (3): 901–911.

Esfarjani F, Laursen PB (2007). “Manipulating high-intensity interval training: effects on VO2max, the lactate threshold and 3000 m running performance in moderately trained males”. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 10 (1): 27–35.