Need a new workout to get my hockey legs (and lungs) back!
October 18, 2007 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm (stupidly) starting playing ice hockey after 20 years off the ice (I'm 33). After the first game last weekend, I'm apparently in far worse shape than I thought -- and need some ideas for new workouts to get my game on.

I'm 5'11", 225, and run 5k/life weights 4-5 times a week. I'm also an occasional 10k runner, so I've got some legs, but I was just about dead after playing == not sore, but waaay out of breath, wheezy, etc.

Obviously, the extra weight I'm carrying isn't helping, and I have a touch of exercise-induced asthma (the phlegmy cough for the last three days has been unpleasant, to say the least), but I need some ideas for a new workout regime that will help me get some of the jump back -- sprints, ????? Thanks MeFiers!
posted by liquado to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was in a similar situation about 2 years ago, except that I don't really do any other sport/workout activities other than snowboarding.

Your first few games will hurt no matter what. Take shorter shifts and try to think about how long you've been on the ice. If you're using old equipment, a few new, lighter items may help. Seriously though, if you're running/lifting that often, I think you should be fine after a few weeks.
posted by dripdripdrop at 2:04 PM on October 18, 2007

You seem to have a generally good fitness base, if you frequently run 5k and lift weights. As long as your form and technique on the lifts is solid, give the crossfit program a try. It's a program based around the idea that functional, all around fitness is best gained by using a varied exercise program comprised of free weights, body weight exercises, gymnastic movement, olympic weightlifting, and various cardio movements. Workouts tend to be short and intense, and are often circuits of multiple movements.

The crossfit philosophy should be a good fit for hockey: you have to have the cardio to skate around the ice for a whole game, but you still want to be strong, fast, and poerful.

Personally, I have never been as fit as when I was consistently doing the crossfit 'workout of the day' (WOD's) as recommended by the website.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

The stupid answer is that the best way to get used to skating is to do a lot of skating. Can you go to the rink during normal open-use periods and do fast laps?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2007

I feel just what you feel.

One thing I've read which makes sense to me is that while you get good training effects in general from any aerobic activity, fitness doesn't carry over as much as we would like. It's good that you run, and you shouldn't stop, but if you want to be fit for skating like a mad bastard, that is what you have to do most.

Random thought: have you looked at interval training, particularly so-called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Adapt that into a skating drill and you'll be a demon on the ice again.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:36 PM on October 18, 2007

I think joe's spleen is on the right track. When I need to get in shape for stuff like that I've always adhered to 400m sprints at the track. I like to do 8-10 of them with a minute in between sets, and work up to more sets/less rest in between as my workouts progress. Would probably help your 5k times too, and I'd try something similar with 800m runs as well.
posted by PFL at 4:00 PM on October 18, 2007

I agree with all the comments about higher intensity workouts, like tabata intervals or the stuff at Crossfit. Long-distance running is good for your overall cardiovascular health, but it doesn't translate that well to sport-specific activities. Usually, anaerobic and explosive endurance is more important to a sport.
posted by ignignokt at 4:09 PM on October 18, 2007

Pylometrics are great. Also, doing more lunges, squats, and other things that help the explosive power of your quads and glutes will help. You're going full-bore on the fast-twitch fibers, which it doesn't sound like you've been using much.

I suggest a balance oriented/core workout like pilates or yoga - part of the reason it's so damn hard is that your back and abs are trying to help keep you upright while you work the stick. When you train your body to get more efficient with balance, energy goes to other things. A bosu ball, or just standing around on your skates in front of the TV will help a lot. (your feet will get stronger, also a plus) Hold your stick at waist level or raise it above your head like a barbell for additional fun.

Also, with the asthma, you might try a little bit of sinus tylenol, sudafed, or other decongestant the day before and of the match to reduce the amount of post nasal drip that goes along with heavy exercise. It can be helpful. It it gets crappy, you might need some steroids or advair to help your poor lungs deal with the rapid changes that they need with hockey - see your doctor if you start to wheeze.

Hot tea, a hot shower, or other moist heat to your lungs post hockey will also help them feel better and recover from the ice rink cold.

I went from never skating to playing league roller, and all of these things really helped me skate faster, more efficiently, and without thinking about it so much.
posted by beezy at 5:38 PM on October 18, 2007

Also, stretch lots! Before, in between shifts, and after the game.

The guy who taught me to skate gave me some really valuable advice - flexibility is the secret ninja trick to agility. It will also help you be less sore.
posted by beezy at 5:42 PM on October 18, 2007

Running a 5k is great, but hockey (esp. competitive hockey) is first and foremost an anaerobic sport. Sprinting and strength training are the keys. You are basically sprinting while carrying in excess of 20 lbs of extra weight, which just gets heavier as the game goes on.

For me getting into hockey shape was always hardest on my back, so I would recommend working your abs with leg lifts, crunches and bicycle crunches, and sit-ups (vary them to work different muscle groups in the abs.

Do push-ups and also work on your back muscles.

As for the drip, as a kid I had bad exercise induced asthma which was exacerbated by the cold air of a hockey rink. I typically took two puffs of Albuterol usually an hour before I skated, and it always seemed to help. Ask your doctor if the sinus/breathing issues persist. And have fun, hockey is the greatest sport ever devised!
posted by chlorus at 11:09 PM on October 18, 2007

hmmmm ... hockey is about shifts of 150% and then rest ... I would suggest that you just try sprint training instead of jogging ... possibly with body weights and/or in your gear ... option 2 would be to play lotsa pickup games and/or attend "open" training sessions.

Also, have you considered taking up short distance speed skating ... short track in particular.
posted by jannw at 6:36 AM on October 19, 2007

Oh, and hey, let us know in a few weeks how it goes, and what worked, I need to get back in the game myself.
posted by chlorus at 5:47 PM on October 20, 2007

Response by poster: Hey all, just an update for you...
First, I had a week off because of a bye in the schedule, so I tried to make the most of it -- until I got sick. Argh.

Anyways, I've changed my workout routine to include two days of a whole-body pylometric workout two days a week, run one day a week, and two totally different weight workouts, just to change things up. A few early observations:

1) A big part of my problem in the first game, I realized after playing tonight, was going too hard, right away. I lost what little legs I had, and it killed me for the rest of the game. By pacing my self a little better tonight, I felt a million times better by the end of the game.

2) Anyone who works out, or plans on starting to work out, make *sure* you include some HIIT/Crossfit/Pylometric workouts in your routine. As I said before, I've been working out steadily for the last five years, but didn't really realize that I was missing a big chunk of workout that I should have been doing all along. I think it's going to make a big difference in not very long, but holy crap, all that jumping makes for sore glutes. I'm also going to be taking advantage of the adult public skates during the week as well.

Thanks for the assist, everyone -- I was terrified that I was not going to be able to play hockey again after the last game. Now I know I can't do anything about my skillz, but I can at least not pass out on the bench. I'll update again in a few weeks as to progress.
posted by liquado at 6:36 PM on October 28, 2007

Thanks for posting this update and glad to hear you are making progress!
posted by chlorus at 9:50 PM on October 29, 2007

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