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Strength Training Part 2: Different kinds of strength require different kinds of training

By Mike Fabbro on March 04, 2016

This article isn’t about recommending specific exercises, reps or loads because I’m all about customizing sessions based on the age and needs of the individual player. 

My programs differ for each age group and fitness level and vary for different times of the year to complement the on-ice activity and to avoid fatigue. I even vary my morning and evening sessions to include more stretching and mobility work in the mornings to wake up and prepare for the day ahead and increase strength work in the evenings, just before sleep and recovery.

Like I stated in Part 1, too many players are in gyms training like bodybuilders instead of elite athletes. Sure you will feed your ego and have a beach body, but you need a hockey body – one that is fast, agile and strong. Some team trainers are telling their players to do bicep curls, leg presses on a machine and bench-pressing heavy weights with low reps.  If this sounds familiar in any way, please read on. 

Some of these players were surprised when I told them that these exercises would restrict their ranger of motion, make them slower not faster and that the muscular imbalances caused by using certain machines could destabilize their joints and increase their likelihood of injury. Again, they would have been better off staying in bed! 

To understand what kind of strength training program you need, you have to understand the four types of strength you can and need to develop.  

Absolute Strength: This is your maximum force you can apply to complete one rep of an activity. It’s how strong you are, regardless of your body weight or size. To develop your absolute strength, you move the maximum weight you can for very low (1 -3) repetitions.

Relative Strength: This is pound-for-pound strength and is a measure of your maximum effort in relation to your bodyweight. It’s how much you move for one rep but as percentage of your body weight. For example, if two players can bench press the same weight once, the lighter player has the highest relative strength. Push-ups, pull ups, L-sits and squats and lunges are all classic examples of how to develop relative strength. 

Power: (This is your speed strength). Power is the rate of doing work or how fast you move a load a distance. If you skate the length of a rink twice, once fast and once slower, the work will be the same each time: your body weight and distance are unchanged. You’ve exerted more power, however, when you skated faster. To skate faster, you need more power. Training for power usually involves lighter loads but at higher speed. One popular way to develop power is with explosive drills with longer recovery periods. Box jumps and other plyometric drills are examples of how to develop power.

Strength Endurance: Endurance is a measure of intensity over time. If your legs fatigue in the third period and you can’t skate as fast or as long as you did in the first period, you need to work on your endurance. Running hills or pushing/pulling sleds will work this kind of strength. The big difference between power and endurance training is the rest or recovery time. The movements can be equally intense but to develop endurance strength you need to shorten the recovery period. 

Absolute and relative strength are the least important for younger hockey players. Between the ages of 12 and 16, I suggest you focus your limited time on power first then endurance, but be sure to include movement and mobility. As your speed develops and your ability to maintain that speed over time, you will see your relative and absolute strength also increase.

Depending on your age, the position you play and the type of player you are, your strength training will vary. By understanding the different types of strength you can develop, you can better figure out what type of training you need most. 

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By Mike Fabbro| March 04, 2016
Categories:  Performance
Keywords:  Conditioning

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