Staying Strong and Healthy with In-Season Training – Part 1

By Nunzio Signore (B.A., CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Part 1 - 1

The second half of the season is a crucial time. Unfortunately, it’s a time when many athletes shoot themselves in the foot. Let me explain.

A successful season is when players and the team as a whole continue to develop technically and gel as a unit.  If the team is not getting any better then they have possibly wasted all the hard effort they put in during off-season training.

One way to keep the team at the top of their game throughout the season is with an in-season strength training program.  In-season programs are meant to support on-ice development by improving the athlete off the ice without taxing or impeding performance on the ice. Sounds simple right?

Unfortunately this is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many think in-season training makes the athletes “too tired” or “sore” at game time. Well, let me start by saying this:

“A good in-season program should make you neither sore nor tired. As a matter of fact, it should help prevent soreness and fatigue by ironing out imbalances developed throughout the season.”

Look at any professional team that consistently spends season after season at the top of their division and you’ll find that they invest  heavily in developing in-season training programs for their players.

A big mistake many make when getting ready to enter the post season is to pile on a ton of extra workouts. By mid-season, a player’s fatigue level is high, so adding a high volume of strength and conditioning work at that point can possibly do more harm than good. In-season training isn’t about increasing your strength, it’s about maintaining it.

Strength is generally maintained for approximately three weeks before it tapers off considerably. This means that getting a workout in 1-2x per week in-season would yield huge benefits by not allowing for a drop in strength all season!! Unfortunately, this concept usually strikes paranoia in most people.

Many times when poor on-ice performance occurs midway through the season parents and coaches will say that the team is “out-of-shape”. The bottom line is that they’re tired and weak from playing and not maintaining their strength in the gym on off days.

Part 1 - 2

We haven’t even touched on injury. Injury happens most when players are tired. This is either towards the end of the game or the second half of the season. For what it’s worth, the best players are of no use if they are sitting on the bench injured.

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

With all that said, all that we can do is try to continue to educate on the importance of in-season training.  Try getting in1-2 days per week for low volume, high intensity strength training combined with mobility circuits between games and see where it takes you. I promise you’ll love where you end up.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll explain a bit of the protocol we use at RPP for our in-season hockey program.  In the meantime please feel free to visit our “Elite Hockey” webpage by clicking here.

Looking forward to seeing you in the gym.