Ice hockey is an anaerobic sport, made up of brief periods of intense all-out effort as you race down the ice from goal to goal, attack and defend, attack and defend. During a typical game, the average player is physically active for 15-20 minutes of a 60-minute game. Most intervals on the ice last 30-90 seconds followed by 4-5 minute of rest. Again, these short but intense bouts of high speed skating and aggressive movement and body contact demand a high level of anaerobic endurance and muscular strength. So how do you increase your endurance on the ice?
The most effective way to train for and increase your anaerobic endurance is interval training. Your intervals can be performed on the ice, on the track or on the treadmill. An example of an interval on the ice would be an all out sprint from a standstill as you skate at 100% capacity the length of the rink followed by slow recovery laps as you circle the rink. Once your heart rate approaches normal, repeat your all out interval.
You can also simulate this training on the track or treadmill by sprinting for 30 seconds at high-intensity until you become breathless followed by 90 seconds of a slow jog as active recovery. Repeat these intervals up to 6-12 times. As you improve your cardiorespiratory condition, increase the 30 second sprint to 45 seconds while maintaining the 90 seconds of jogging for recovery.
Today’s hockey players are physically bigger, faster and stronger than past players. You would benefit from high intensity interval training (HIIT) which combines weight training or bodyweight training with intervals and cardio training. This training can add lean muscle mass while burning fat and calories for hours after your workout.
A very simple example of HIIT training would be a short sprint up a flight of stairs followed by jogging back down and then repeating. Or a set of burpees followed by a set of bodyweight squats. Or perform deep squats for 30 seconds, with 30-seconds of rest in between. Mix it up with other exercises such as chin-ups, resistance bands or squat jumps.
For ice hockey players, whose sport involves the short, hard all out sprints discussed above, using HIIT is a great offseason training tactic. Conditioning your legs is extremely important so consider using burpees, box jumps, squat jumps or jumping lunges as exercises to stress and strengthen your legs. This type of training simulates quick, hard sprints to get to the puck or that added burst of speed you need to blow past your defender.
Your complete ice hockey training plan should include a combination of cardio and aerobics, strength and muscle building, explosive speed and power plus anaerobic endurance. Include HIIT training to simulate hockey and add plyometrics to develop explosive strength and power.