- "A Winning Program: Preparing Hockey Players for 2002-2003"
- "The 8-week CB ATHLETICS Hockey Program"
- "Women's Ice Hockey - The Need for Physical Training"
- "Bonus: Mike Gough Football Speed Tip"
- "Sports Research Update Secret Weapons!"



As they watch the Stanley Cup finals, this is the time of year where many young hockey players begin to dream of next season. In North America, most players are on the ice year round, with only small breaks between winter hockey and summer hockey. And even if a player does not commit to a summer team, almost all players are back on the ice by mid-August. With these timelines in mind, CB ATHLETICS has developed an 8-week preparatory program for hockey.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Peter Twist of the Vancouver Canucks says, "For hockey performance, it is most important to build strength and flexibility in the 'speed center'. This includes the abdominals, low back, hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors, abductors, and glutes."1

Strength and Conditioning Coach Randy Lee of the Ottawa Senators adds, "Train for athleticism and a strong core. We use lots of single leg exercises, even doing dumbbell rows on a single leg. We also use the stability ball for some exercises. We do this all year round and really see the benefits, even during the season. These exercises even benefit the guys that are already very strong in traditional exercises. Single-leg exercises make players much more stable on the ice and help the players from getting knocked off the puck." When it comes to strength training, experienced coaches have many valuable tips. Charles Poliquin recommends the use of the step-up over the use of the squat in development of skating power.1 While it is great for all of these muscles to be strong, it is also important for the player to be able to move explosively.

Coach Mike Gough offers an intensive and comprehensive hockey (and football!) preparation program each summer in Ottawa, Ontario. When asked to summarize his training philosophy, Mike said, "Hockey demands high levels of speed, power, agility and anaerobic fitness. A comprehensive strength-training program is the foundation of a hockey specific conditioning program. But even more important are the Speed, Agility, Plyometric and Anaerobic training which is what makes the difference with elevating on-ice performance. I feel that this type of training takes my athletes to the next level."

"Increases in speed, footspeed, power and lactic acid tolerance are the keys to elevating an athlete's hockey performance. I suggest 3 intense speed-agility-plyometric sessions per week complemented with three to four strength training sessions per week. As the season draws near, I usually lighten up on the volume (reducing it to only 2 strength sessions) as the athletes are conditioning on-ice as well." You can learn more about Coach Gough's program and experience at www.optperformance.com and www.cbathletics.com/profiles_01mikegough.htm.

Many players may ask why the emphasis is not on bench presses and leg extensions? Coach Gough explains the value of more important explosive training, "Train at high speeds. Do every speed, agility and plyometric drill as fast and as explosive as possible. Constantly change exercises or drills to challenge the body, increase the difficulty, and add stability and balance into drills. Remember we must not only train the muscles but also the brain!"

It is very different to prescribe a "one size fits all" program over the Internet. As a player, it is your best bet to become informed and to identify your priorities over the off-season. What is holding you back from being the best player you can be? If it is on-ice quickness, then focus on developing explosiveness outside of the weight room. If you simply need to gain muscle, then you may want to include up to 4 weight workouts per week, plus a major overhaul on the nutrition program to make sure you are eating properly. The MASSIVE ACTION program has all the details for that.

The CB ATHLETICS hockey program and MASSIVE ACTION manual are not restricted to hockey players, as both will benefit all athletes in power sports. The speed-agility-conditioning sessions are also excellent for all athletes.


Strength Training Summary

* You don't need to spend 5 days a week in the gym following a bodybuilding program. The CB ATHLETICS program recommends strength training only 2 days per week for most athletes, with the option of up to 4 workouts per week.

* Focus on leg strength. Pro hockey players have strong and massive legs that enable fast skating, puck control, balance, and injury prevention.

* Leg exercises should be modified to address the groin. Sport-specific training decreases early season injuries.

* Some exercises should be modified so that they are performed in a single-leg stance to help improve balance, as recommended by Randy Lee.

* No direct lat work is necessary, just upper back work. Emphasize rowing movements.

* Abdominal work can be done for strength (www.cbathletics.com/issues/56.htm#AdvAbs) and explosiveness (using medicine ball drills - wait for an upcoming newsletter that will describe a wide variety of drills).

1. Journal of Hockey Conditioning and Player Development. 2(2): 6-9, 1997.



With the belief that many players will be back on the ice as early as mid-August or early September, the following 8-week program arrives just in time to help them develop the strength and speed necessary to make next season their best ever. The 8-week program will follow a 7-day training schedule, outlined below. However, the program will change quite dramatically over time as strength is developed and explosiveness and agility become the training goal.


Day 1 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Day 2 - Upper-Body Strength Training

- Conditioning Intervals

Day 3 - Active Rest

Day 4 - Speed-agility

Day 5 - Lower-Body Strength Training

Day 6 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Day 7 - Active Rest


According to Dr. Duncan MacDougall, professor emeritus of McMaster University, hockey players need to begin training in the pre-season for oxygen extraction and muscle strength. As the pre-season approaches, interval training should become more intense and muscle power should be the focus of training. Preferably, more than 8 weeks is scheduled for training, but unfortunately, many players take a long rest between their last playoff game and their first off-season workout.

Whatever your current fitness, don't get caught up in the trap thinking more is better. According to neuromuscular physiology expert Dr. Digby Sale, "It should be noted that many speed and power athletes are probably doing too much, especially low intensity, high volume activity that may be used simply to kill time in a training session." Don't workout simply for the sake of training, workout with a plan!


Week 1-3

Start smart. If you haven't trained in 2 weeks, you are going to be sore if you jump right back into a full workout. If this is the case for you, perform half the volume listed in your first week. CB ATHLETICS also has valuable advanced recovery tips for all athletes in the archives thanks to Strength and Conditioning Coach Dr. Jonathon Fowles, Ph.D., (www.cbathletics.com/issues/60.htm#Advanced). Dr. Fowles believes that athletes that don't follow the advanced recovery tips "end up with dead legs in a week. This is one area of research that I am using to tailor into my advanced training area, to balance advanced training with advanced recovery." Expect more exciting news on advanced recovery from Dr. Fowles and his lab at Acadia University in the future.


Day 1 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Follow the workout guideline found in ISSUE #74 (www.cbathletics.com/issues/74.htm#3). Spend extra time in the warm-up, making sure to go through the circuit 3 times. Perform only 1 set of each plyometric drill in week 1 and add one set each week. Pick 2 agility drills and do only 2-3 reps in week 1, adding a repetition each week. Next, grab your medicine ball and do 2-3 sets of lying abdominal tosses and standing rotational tosses. Finally, finish your workout with three sprint intervals of 30 seconds. Follow up with the advanced recovery techniques.

Day 2 - Upper Body Strength Training (2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per set)

* Medium-grip Bench Press

* Barbell Row or Seated Row

* Dumbbell Shoulder press

* Shrug

- Conditioning Intervals

* The intervals on this day will be longer than on day 1. For a complete description, check out the "Sport-specific" interval newsletter (www.cbathletics.com/issues/31.htm#Interval).

* Each interval should last 2-3 minutes and you should reach your maximum heart rate by the end of the interval. Each rest interval should be of equal length.

* Begin with 3 intervals in week 1, and add 1 interval per week.

* Follow up with advanced recovery techniques.

Day 3 - Active Rest

Day 4 - Speed-agility

Perform a similar routine to day 1. However, choose different drills for plyometrics, agility, and medicine ball work. There are no intervals on this day.

Day 5 - Lower Body Strength Training (2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per set)

* Wide-stance squat (www.cbathletics.com/issues/39.htm#Squat)

* Stiff leg deadlift (www.cbathletics.com/issues/75.htm#3)

* 1-2 ab exercises (www.cbathletics.com/issues/56.htm#AdvAbs)

* 3 sets of low back extensions (10-20 reps)

Day 6 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Perform the workout as in day 1, but finish your workout with 5 intervals of 30 seconds. Follow-up with advanced recovery techniques.

Day 7 - Active Rest


Week 4-6 - Training to meet your individual needs!

Researchers have looked at the relationship between different jumps and skating performance. The static squat jump had the greatest correlation to the near blue line time, suggesting that the squat jump provides a great estimate of starting strength. Chances are that if you improve your squat strength, you will also improve your skating start.

Depth jump performance had the greatest association with fast skating to the far blue line. This indicates higher intensity repeated jumps (i.e. sets of 6 squat jumps) may be more effective in helping skaters become faster over longer distances because the athlete will become better at using stored energy from the previous stride. You can see why all types of jump training are recommended for a successful overall program.

For strength workouts, athletes must choose their sets and reps to meet their goals. Players looking to put on mass will benefit from more volume (3-4 sets per exercise and 6-10 reps per set). They must also make sure to consume additional calories (www.cbathletics.com/issues/14.htm#Post). In contrast, athletes that simply want to increase maximal strength can use heavier weights and fewer reps per set (2-5 sets of 2-5 reps per exercise).


Day 1 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Adjust your workout to emphasize the jumps that will improve your performance the most. Choose 2-3 jumping drills and perform 3-5 sets of each. Once you notice your performance and technique dropping, move on to the next drill.

If agility is your weakness, place a greater emphasis on performing several different agility drills. Make sure to move with a bend in your knees and your head up, just as you will on the ice. Mike Gough uses the speed ladder to really help his guys with agility, "I feel that the Speed Ladder has a great transfer ability to on-ice movements. I think that it is especially great for defensemen doing patterns backwards keeping their head up, just like they are challenged by a forward on-ice. Also they usually have slow feet so it's great."

For medicine ball work, there are numerous exercises you can choose from. If you need to concentrate on explosiveness, perform overhead throws will the ball, releasing it at the top of the movement. You can also carry the medicine ball through your agility drills to increase the difficulty. Finish off with a couple of medicine ball-based ab exercises.

How is your conditioning? If you just can't make it through a double-shift, keep pushing on the intervals. Add more intervals or increase the intensity and decrease the rest between intervals. You will definitely need to follow up with the advanced recovery techniques after these workouts.

Day 2 - Upper Body Strength Training

* Close-grip Bench Press

* Row

* Single-leg standing shoulder press

* Single-leg DB Row

- Conditioning Intervals

* Perform up to 6 sets of 2-minute intervals.

* Follow up with advanced recovery techniques.

Day 3 - Active Rest

Day 4 - Speed-agility

Day 5 - Lower Body Strength Training

* Lateral Step-up (www.cbathletics.com/issues/68.htm#4)

* Wide-stance deadlift (www.cbathletics.com/issues/75.htm)

* Reverse lunge or Single-leg Squat

* Abs

* Low back extensions

Day 6 - Speed-agility-conditioning

In this workout, perform the warm-up, jumps, agilities, and medicine ball work as you normally would. However, in place of the sprint intervals, you can try an alternative form of conditioning called sled pulling. You will need a 100-200 foot dragging space, a sled (toboggan, weighted tire, etc.), and some weights that you can throw on the sled.

Drag the sled for up to 6 intervals of 200 feet. Train with a partner so you rest while they pull. You can walk forwards, backwards, and laterally. All of these movements will condition your legs in a manner you have not experienced before. Alternatively, you may use wheelbarrow walks (push a loaded wheelbarrow). Also, you have no worries about looking a little out of place. After all, you'll be dragging a sled in the middle of summer.

Does it work? Non-elite player Brad Pilon says it has helped him play the best hockey of his life. "I attribute it to the sled pulling, med balls and plyos." Follow up with advanced recovery techniques and post-workout supplementation.


Day 7 - Active Rest - Well deserved!


Week 7-8 - Concentrate on game preparation.

Day 1 - Speed-agility-conditioning

Injuries occur when an athlete is not prepared for the specific task at hand. Groin-specific agilities and conditioning are very important. Train to improve your weaknesses with the drills that you have found worked best in the previous weeks.

Day 2 - Upper Body Strength Training (3 sets of 5 repetitions)

* Medium-grip Bench Press

* Wide-grip Pullups (use extra weight if necessary)

* Wide-grip Seated Row

* Abdominals

- Sprint Intervals

* Perform up to 6 sets of 30-second intervals.

* Follow up with advanced recovery techniques.

Day 3 - Active Rest

Day 4 - Speed-agility

Day 5 - Lower Body Strength Training (3 sets of 5 repetitions)

* Cross-over Step-up (www.cbathletics.com/issues/29.htm#1)

* Romanian deadlift (www.cbathletics.com/issues/75.htm)

* Single-leg Squat

* Abs

* Low back extensions

Day 6 - Speed-agility-conditioning

* Perform up to 6 sets of 45-second intervals with only 45 seconds of rest between work intervals.

* Follow up with advanced recovery techniques.

Day 7 - Active Rest


Week 9 - Hit the ice in your best condition yet!



Women's hockey is an extremely popular sport in Canada, the USA, and around the world. An off-season program is clearly a necessity for female players. Strength and Conditioning Coach Sarah Applegarth believes, "From my experience, girls do not push themselves hard enough. Males tend to try to lift too much weight when they strength train, but females tend to be more conservative. I think girls don't always get the adaptations (physical benefits) that they could if they trained to their potentials." Fortunately, to meet these demands, there has been a growing body of research on the female hockey player.

In a study sponsored by the US Olympic Committee, the heart rates of Women's National team hockey players were monitored during practices and games.1 It turned out that the average heart rate during a game was significantly higher than during a practice. The study also showed that twice as much time was spent above 90% of maximal heart rate during a game in comparison to a practice.

The study concluded that, "Elite women hockey players experience significantly greater cardiovascular load during game play than during practice. This mismatch in cardiovascular demand may prevent players from achieving 'game shape', thus affecting competition play."1 Clearly, any player that does not include structured interval training in their off-season program will also not achieve 'game shape'. You must incorporate the interval recommendations from above into your program to get you into 'game shape'.

Canadian researchers performed extensive fitness testing on university-level female hockey players and found that over 2 years, females did not improve in most areas of physical performance.2 Improvement was only observed in on-ice anaerobic power. While anaerobic power is very important for hockey, there appears to be room for improvement in many aspects of physical conditioning. Proper strength training may make the most impact on performance for female players.

The same Canadian research group has also found that the 40-yard dash and VJ are predictors of skating speed. Through their experiences, they have also found the differences between elite and non-elite female players are age, skating speed, and on-ice fitness.

Coach Applegarth says, "Get educated on the theory behind training, then find what works best for you. We are not just smaller versions of men. For example, fitness-testing results are greatly affected by a girl's monthly cycle (due to the hormones involved). Test results will vary greatly between "Pre-ovulation" and "Post-Ovulation" points. Differences will be clearly visible in your anaerobic (strength, power, speed) versus your aerobic scores. This is important for both the coach and athlete to keep in mind during testing. All athletes should make sure their coach knows your cycle and keeps testing consistent with respect to time."


1. Rundell, K., et al. An evaluation of cardiovascular demands and practice specificity in women's ice hockey. Med. Sci. Sport Exerc. 34: s157, 2002.

2. Bracko, M., et al. Effect of two seasons of play on Canadian female university hockey players. Med. Sci. Sport Exerc. 34: s198, 2002.

3. Bracko, M., et al. Performance and talent identification of female ice hockey players: What we know - How do we use it? Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 34: s296, 2002.



In this installment, Coach Gough offers advice to a Division II defensive back looking to increase his speed.

Q: I run in the 4.5 range but I think I could potentially be a lot faster. I feel my biggest problem is stride length because one of my friends said that although I look to be turning over really fast I am not covering enough ground. So stride length is one area that I think if I focused on my speed would really increase. Do you know any drills or specific things i could do to help? I have started stretching a lot lately to help. I have read your article on the 40-yard dash start and I plan on using those tips when we test in the fall.


Coach Gough:

A: It sounds the like you may have tight hamstrings. Really focus on stretching your hamstrings, hips, quadriceps and glutes. Second, get someone to video tape you running your forty. Focus on the start and then go from there. I do this with athletes and it really helps then understand what they are doing wrong and how to correct it.

For stride length try using an agility ladder. Get in your start position at the end of the ladder then explode out stepping in every other one. However, I think the flexibility is the key. You should be able to lift your knee with your lower leg touching your butt. Refine your running form using the traditional track exercises of "A's" and "B's". In the weight room, perform squats, lunges, deadlifts and step-ups.

Here is one of Mike Gough's athletes using the speed ladder


Mike Gough, B.Sc., CSCS, CFC, www.optperformance.com



In keeping with the hockey related theme of this issue, the following research update will discuss the issue of post-exercise glycogen storage. Very few athletes, coaches and parents give due diligence to this aspect of the athlete's overall program, when in fact it could be the easiest method of achieving greater performance.


Zehnder, M., et al. Resynthesis of muscle glycogen after soccer specific performance examined by 13C-magnetic resonance spectroscopy in elite players. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 84: 443-447, 2001.

In this study, elite junior soccer players performed a test designed to simulate a fatiguing soccer match (repeated sprints). The athletes then consumed their regular diet (~2700 calories, 99g protein, and 327g carbohydrates). Glycogen levels were measured and values were:

Before training: 134 mmol/kg [wet mass]

After training: 80 mmol/kg

24 hours after training: 122 mmol/kg (~10% less than before training)

Results show that a diet consisting of ~50% carbohydrate (4.8g of carbohydrate per kg body weight) may be sufficient to return glycogen to resting levels within 24 hours of a soccer match. However, in the optimal situation, an athlete's carbohydrate intake should be higher to ensure full replenishment and perhaps even increase glycogen stores for future games and training sessions. The easiest method to enhance glycogen replenishment in athletes is with an immediate post-workout recovery drink containing carbohydrate and proteins. This will enable the athlete to get a head start on recovery, especially if the athlete is engaged in tournament. Use glycogen-replenishing drinks as your team's secret weapon!


Nygren AT Effect of glycogen loading on skeletal muscle cross-sectional area and T2 relaxation time. Acta Physiol. Scand. 173: 385-390, 2001.

In this study, 5 healthy volunteers underwent 4 days of extremely carbohydrate-restricted meals followed by 4 days of extremely high carbohydrate intake. The cross-sectional area (CSA) of the thigh and calf muscles were related to the intramuscular glycogen content evaluated at days 4 and 8. An increase in glycogen content from 281 to 634 mmol/kg [dry mass] increased the CSA of the vastus muscles by 3.5% from 78 to 80cm2 and the thigh circumference by 2.5% from 146 to 150cm2.

The study supports the importance of a high-carbohydrate diet for athletes that need to keep their glycogen stores high. It also provides a neat way of increasing muscle size acutely, simply by increasing the carbohydrate content of the diet. Bodybuilders have used a similar technique for years just prior to their competitions.




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