I had a great question from a "Beer League" hockey player the other day. His story was a familiar one, he had been away from the game for about nine years (work, family, grown-up commitments), but now he wanted to get back into it. He knew he had to lose some weight so he could both enjoy his return to hockey and reduce his risk of injury. He asked if he should lose the fat first or work on his hockey conditioning first.
This is a great question and as a fitness coach one that I hear not only from adult hockey players, but from adults athletes in general. Prospective clients will often tell me, "I am just going to workout for a few months so I can be in shape to train with you." Huh?
The answer is very simple – your hockey conditioning will be one of the essential components of your fat loss plan. Research studies have shown that the best way to lose fat and keep it off is through a combination of nutrition modification and exercise. I say 'nutrition modification' because there will be no dieting involved. The crappy foods you were eating before made you fat, so you will not be going back to them once you are lean.
For the adult hockey player looking to get in great shape here are three strategies for you:
- Eat every three hours. It can be a small snack, but make sure you include a lean protein and a carbohydrate such as: Cottage cheese + pineapple chunks; plain yogurt + frozen berries; small piece of cheese + apple; sliced turkey + multigrain bread + slice of tomato.
- Eat breakfast – I originally typed "make breakfast one of your biggest meals" but then I realized that most of you probably do not even eat breakfast. So let's just start by eating breakfast. How about a hardboiled egg + slice of multigrain toast; oatmeal (uncooked) + plain yogurt + frozen berries + scoop of protein powder (mix up a re-sealable container ahead of time); egg beaters + whole grain wrap + salsa.
Forget the slow steady cardio. I am sure you can appreciate how plodding along on a treadmill will not make you faster on the ice. But what you may not know is that interval training takes less time, but burns more calories over time. So if I told you 20-minutes of interval training would give you a better hockey condition workout and help you burn more calories leading to more fat loss that would be a real win: win situation would not it.
Now, like any new exercise routine, it is essential that you consult with your health care provider before trying any new intense training protocols. If your only sport for the last 10 years has been sofa surfing you may need to do some easy cardio just to get your body accustomed to the added activity.
Whichever mode of exercise you choose here is how you can get a great hockey training effect and burn more calories.
- Begin with a light 5 minute warm up.
- Increase your tempo (you may also need to increase your resistance setting if using a cardio training machine) for 30 seconds. You should be winded by the end of the 30 second interval.
- Go very light for 90 seconds – and I mean very light. We need to maximize your recovery so you can go hard on your next interval.
- Repeat this 30 second hard: 90 second easy pattern for 10 minutes. Build up to 20 minutes over four weeks.
Once you can handle this routine for 20 minutes without ending up on oxygen, then you can start cutting back on your rest interval. Do not reduce your rest beyond 60 seconds.
So although you are not playing the level of hockey you once did, you are still competitive and you still want to perform well. Implement these three strategies to maximize your hockey training results.
- Eat a protein and carbohydrates meal every three hours.
- Eat a protein and carbohydrates breakfast.
- Include cardio intervals in your off-ice hockey training.