Off Ice Goalie Training: How many reps should I do?
I share a lot of exercises with you here and over at goalietrainingpro.com and I often get asked “How many sets and reps of those should I do?” This is a tough one to answer because it really depends on your goals and the phase of the off-season.
It is like asking a doctor for the ‘best’ dose of Tylenol. If you just got run over by a car, the best dose might be 15 (not that I am saying you should ever take 15 Tylenol). If you just stubbed your toe, the best dose might be one.
I am going to try and explain the rep ranges you will use during the different phases of your off-season training so you can target the goals of each phase.
I use this phase as my Foundation phase where I want to ensure adequate mobility, core stability and connective tissue strength. So for my big muscle exercises I stay in the 12-15 rep range for 3 sets and I emphasize the lowering phase of the exercise by counting to 3 or 4 during the lowering or eccentric portion of the repetition.
For example if we are doing Split Squats (static lunges) then we would do 15 on each side and spend 3-4 seconds bringing the back knee down to within 3 inches of the floor.
This ensures that the athlete cannot get lifting too much weight early in the off-season when the connective tissue and the stabilizers are at their weakest.
During the second phase of the off-season, for the big muscle exercises (squats, presses, rows) we go to slightly heavier loads and will move the rep range to the 8-12 rep range. I like to use a descending pyramid during this phase of 12-10-8 reps over the three sets or later in this phase I will go 10-8-6 reps.
Tempos increase a bit with approximately 2 seconds to lower the weight and 2 seconds to lift the weight.
When we do stabilization exercises (rotator cuff, hip stability), the volume stays high because the stabilizer needs to be smart and have stamina to maintain fine control of the joint. So these exercises will stay in the 12-15 rep range for 2-3 sets with a very light load. These exercises should be taken just to the onset of fatigue – not to the point of exhaustion.
Now is when we start lifting heavy – the goal is to maximize the amount of weight a player can lift with perfect form in exercises which require stabilization (no machine based exercises) such as front squats, single leg squats, standing cable presses, chin ups, etc.
You have to be careful to balance out the risk/reward ratio during this phase, so I do not have athletes lifting in the 1-2 rep range. My off-ice training programs have hockey players go for 4 sets of their big muscle exercises working in the 3-5 rep range. Again, remember you are training to technical failure, not muscle failure. Once you cannot complete the exercise with perfect form, stop the set. PERIOD. There are no ‘cheat reps’.
Stabilization exercises will still be completed in the 8-15 rep range, I do not do things like 3 rep max of shoulder external rotation. I may also include some instability training in this phase, such as a single leg squat on the flat side of a BOSU, but that exercise will also be at a higher rep range 8-12 as more of a stabilization exercise than a max strength option.
This is where it all comes together – we take all of that stability and strength and teach the hockey player to exert their force as quickly as possible to boost their power. Quality is the key here – if you are fatiguing to the point that you can no longer execute the power moves quickly, they you are not making yourself quicker. You are training endurance, not power.
So for my main power exercises like cleans I use 3-4 sets of 2-4 reps and for plyometric drills I work in the 6-8 rep range when power is my goal.
I hope this sheds some light on how your rep range will change through your hockey off-season training program. Creating a safe and effective training program is much like creating a wonderful recipe. Two people may be given the exact same ingredients to work with, but one chef may create a wonderful meal where the other schmuck may create a horror! It is not just the ingredients that matter, but the way they are put together to create the desired outcome.
Maria Mountain is the strength and conditioning coach to Olympic, World and Stanley Cup Champions. She specializes in off-ice training for hockey goalies. Visit www.GoalieTrainingPro.com to learn more or click here for your free copy of the Ultimate Guide to Durable and Flexible Hips for Goalies