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Train Like a New Jersey Devil

Learn what it takes to gain the power, speed, and strength of a hockey player.

Blake Coleman #40 Of The New Jersey Devils Skates
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There’s much more to ice hockey than skating and handling a three-inch-wide puck. When you factor in the sharp cuts, bursts of speed during a breakaway, body checking, and, of course, learning to trash-talk with a mouthpiece in, it takes skill and strength. To get a better sense of how the pros train we spoke to New Jersey Devils strength and conditioning coaches Joe Lorincz and Jamie Rodriguez.

Program Structure 

“In-season training is strictly focused on maintenance—whether it’s maintaining strength, conditioning, or movement quality,” says Lorincz. “The early offseason is restorative and followed by primarily strength and power development. As the season gets closer, we finish with hockey-specific conditioning.”

Power Development 

“Hockey is unique in that the players are constantly in a crouched-over position,” says Rodriguez. “They have to be able to produce power from that position, pushing off with long strides.” Movements like medicine ball slams and box jumps are performed first in the workout, as they target the central nervous system without taking away from a player’s strength output later in the workout and enhance his ability to produce maximal force.

SEE ALSO: How To Train Like A Stuntman

Building Strength 

Every athlete needs a solid base of strength to transfer to his movement. For this reason, the Devils incorporate lower-body compound exercises such as trap bar deadlifts and squats into the program for low reps. In the off-season, players focus on moving heavy weight, then reduce the number in season.

New Jersey Devils Trainers Display Proper Exercise Form And Stretching.
Tom Roarty

Velocity-Based Training 

Instead of relying on guesswork, the Devils measure the speed at which the bar is moved. Depending on what modality the athlete is training, whether speed, power, or strength, he’s challenged with keeping the velocity of the bar within a certain range (measured in meters per second, m/s). “The athlete’s level of [central nervous system] fatigue dictates the load on the bar. If the athlete is fatigued, he will be forced to use a lighter weight. If the athlete is fresh, he’ll use a heavier load,” explains Lorincz. 

Mobility 

Because of that crouched-over position, players run the risk of having tight hip flexors. So the team is taken through an extensive dynamic warmup—side lunges, skips, butt kicks, and reaching quad pulls—that focuses on strengthening the hips, improving movement mechanics, and preventing injury.

SEE ALSO: Train Like Running Back Sensation Ezekiel Elliott

Muscular Endurance 

The most taxing part of hockey is the stop-and-go play, according to Rodriguez. Players alternate between short bursts of intense play, paired with a short amount of complete rest. After a minute or two of play, full of sprints and big hits, “players’ legs can often feel like jelly.” For this reason, the conditioning work consists of high-rep circuits and sprints to improve their muscles’ ability to recover.

Recovery 

“Everyone has his own strategies, but we try to promote what matters the most: nutrition and sleep,” says Lorincz. “If you aren’t fueling properly or getting sufficient sleep, all the cold tubs, stim units, contrast baths, pneumatic compression devices, compression garments, cryogenic chambers, flush rides, foam rollers, and massages in the world aren’t going to save you.

New Jersey Devils Trainers Display Proper Exercise Form And Stretching With Workout Plan
Tom Roarty

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