hockey size gain

Institute 3E In-Season Training Ideology for Older Athletes

There's no question that in-season and off-season training styles should be different. First of all, in-season the goal is to perform your sport optimally and to keep that high tempo through the season. Along with performing optimally it should be a goal to maintain the strength and size gained in the off-season.

If in-season the goal is to play your sport at your peak and you took the same training methodology we use in our off-season training it would do harm than good. The body wouldn't be able to repair and recover in time to perform optimally every time you were on the ice; you world more than likely inhibit growth. This being said there are a few training variations we implicate with our older athletes for their in-season training.

  1. Frequency - we recommend for older athletes to lift twice a week. This is an ideal amount to maintain muscle without frying the nervous system and leaving an athlete lethargic or sore for the majority of the week.
  2. Compound movements - every in-season lift we perform focuses on a compound movement as the first exercise. For example, a squat, deadlift, Olympic lift or bench/overhead press will be the initial focus. The compound movements are how we gain the most muscle, when in-season they're also how we maintain the most muscle. Along with this they're a great sign for checking and maintaining one's strength levels.
  3. Work : Rest ratio - a good in-season lift will have emphasis on the rest an athlete is getting in-between sets. If reps are lower, rest is higher to allow optimal performance and to avoid burnout.
  4. Volume - lifts are made to be shorter and to hit a majority of muscles, when skating 4+ times a week a 2-hour lift can severely deplete the body.
  5. Intensity - in-season intensity of lifts are dictated by the volume (reps). This means let the reps dictate the weight, constantly missing reps and going as heavy as possible will impede proper maintenance/growth.

An example of an in-season (functional hypertrophy, maintain size) lift would look like this....

  • A. Back squat, 5-7 reps, 40X0 tempo, 4 sets, 2 minute rest
  • B1. Chin-up, 6-8 reps, 30X0 tempo, 4 sets, 90 second rest
  • B2. Incline DB Bench Press, 6-8 reps, 30X0 tempo, 4 sets, 90 second rest
  • C. GHD, 8-10 reps, 30X0 tempo, 3 sets, 90 second rest

The main concern of this lift is to perform the back squat to the same caliber you did in the off-season. If you can, then it's a good sign that your strength and size is being maintained. The remaining lifts are for maintenance of other facets of strength, usually focusing on multiple body parts since frequency of lift days are kept lower.



Post-Activation Potentiation

The theory and practice of Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) revolves around prepping the nervous system for heavier maximal loads. This is known as Post-Tetanic Facilitation, this states if you lift a heavy amount usually a single, double or triple-you'll be able to lift a heavier amount with a higher rep range (ex: you'll be able to lift a heavier 6 rep after a heavy single, as opposed to just doing 6's) or create more power if you're doing a plyometric. In summary it's the method of priming the nervous system by creating a more effective neural drive.

When working with our athletes we facilitate this into the programs of some of our most elite players. They don't realize it at the time, but they're practicing a method that has long been used to create power and strength increases in a plethora of athletes. Hockey players have a demand for strength and speed in their game, thus making our form of PAP a useful tactic for increasing both at once.

An example of PAP we use with our athletes...

A1. Back squat - 3 reps, 40X0, 10 sec rest, 8 sets

A2. Depth jump - 6 reps, X, 4 min rest, 8 sets

Another example might be...

A1. High handle sled push - 10 meters, X, 0 sec, 10 sets

A2. Sprint - 10 meters, X, 3 minute rest, 10 sets

This example includes a heavy strength movement (3 rep back squat) and a plyometric (depth jump), both effective for hockey players. We combine these movements to increase a player's recruitment of muscle fibers when producing power. It's important to point out the rest time in-between each set--make sure to take a longer rest after the second movement when practicing PAP. The reason for this is the increased demand on neural drive, the body needs adequate rest to keep performing at an efficient rate.

PAP can be an effective change up when increasing one's strength/power production. It can be used combining different movements other than the one's used above (ex: 1 rep back squat, followed by a 6 rep back squat). It's also important to note that this method should be used sparingly, it's taxing on the nervous system and should be used strategically with your in/off-season schedules--this will help avoid burnout or any form of strength backtracking.

Important takeaways

  1. Use sparingly, there's a time and place in everyone's training program when PAP could be more or less effective.
  2. Allow adequate rest time.
  3. Combine movements that benefit and facilitate well together.
  4. If you're new to lifting this method won't benefit you as much as an advanced, trained athlete.