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Back to Basics: How to Take your Workout Outside

By Tyler Baigrie on July 03, 2017


The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and the weather has finally turned to warm after a long winter. The outdoors are practically calling your name. But you’re in the gym, training hard for next season. 

Finding time to get outside and enjoy the summer weather can be difficult for hockey players. But what if you could get your training in and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D. 

Taking your workout outside is a good way to switch things up. Not to mention, the fresh air will have you feeling more energized for the rest of the workout. 

I reached out to Jeff Watson, a Strength and Conditioning coach at Elite Training Systems in Whitby, Ontario. ETS has seen players like Kris Versteeg, Natalie Spooner, and prospects Brady Gilmour, and Jonah Gadjovich walk through their doors. 

Indoors vs Outdoors? 
It’s easy to think that there isn’t much difference between training indoors and training outdoors. After all, the only thing changing is the setting. But this isn’t true at all. The new environment can bring it’s own set of challenges for athletes. 

As Watson points out, the outdoors provide challenge through natural elements. “Athletes typically forget that they sweat a great deal and with it being outside, that sweat might go unnoticed when it evaporates quickly,” Watson explains. He also includes surface quality and air quality as factors. If a surface is slippery, or the air is humid, athlete will find it more difficult to get through their workout. Watson also warns of training on pavement, as it can cause damage to the joints. 

Should I Train Outdoors? 
If you’ve lost enthusiasm in your training, then taking your workout outdoors could be beneficial. Taking from his experience, Watson explains, “Athletes tend to like getting outdoors and outside their element or to change up the scenery.” Making even small changes can keep your training fresh and exciting. 

The unknown conditions that come with the outdoors could also prove beneficial for athletes. It forces them to adopt and think quickly during their workout – something that could come in handy on the ice. 

However, the player must be cautious as to avoid any injuries. 

Getting Started 
Now that you want to take your workout outside, It’s time to make a plan. Watson takes his athletes outside a minimum of two times per week. “even if it’s for short periods of time (like warm up or sprint work) in order to keep them fresh.” 

There’s plenty of exercises you can do outside, but here is a list of the best: 

Medicine Ball Work 
A great way to build full-body power and strength. Plus, as Watson explains, “space is not an issue like it is in a gym setting with the roof coming into play.” 

Forest Training 
Forests are filled with opportunities, whether it’s jumping over logs, doing pullups on a tree branch, or simply running through the trails. Keep an open mind and be creative, and you will get a good workout in. 

Hill Sprints 
Hill sprints add extra resistance, and can be a great way to up your speed on the ice. Switch it up between short and steep and long and less steep hill sprints, to get the best results. 

Doing sled pushes or pulls with the prowler can be devastating. Be careful not to come down with the infamous prowler flu. 

Ladder Drills 
Bring the ladder outside and get working on your foot work. Developing quick feet will have you dancing around defenders. 

Jump squats, horizontal jumps, one-leg jumps – there are so many different kinds of jumps you can do outside. 

Skipping isn’t just for boxers. It’s a good way to build quick feet and cardio that will keep you going on those long shifts. 

You can build a solid core – essential for hockey – and don’t need any equipment. 

So, make sure you’re improving your game and soaking up the sun this summer. As Watson explained, “bottom line, training outdoors is not a necessity but a great way to change things up, keep athletes engaged and keep them from burning out with being buried in a gym all summer/winter.” 

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By Tyler Baigrie| July 03, 2017
Categories:  Performance
Keywords:  Conditioning

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