Power Play: How to Build Explosive Power For Hockey or Football
Hockey & football players have incredible physiques, and as such need to be in top physical shape. Both these sports are played in an explosive way, demanding a high level of physical fitness from the athletes who play them. If you play either of these sports, practicing on the field or ice isn’t enough. To build power for hockey or football you need a combination of strength training, sport specific cardio, and proper supplementation. This combination, along with your sport specific practice, is the best way to gain that competitive edge.
Now you may be thinking, hockey & football are two different games; how are we going to “tackle” them both in one article? Although the games themselves may be very different, the primary energy system that the body uses is not.
With the explosive nature of both sports (think lots of sprints) the body relies on Adenosine Triphosphate (aka ATP), which is an energy system the body uses when we need quick bursts of raw power. Training this system will help you become more explosive whether it’s on the field or the ice.
Power Building Strength Training
To build power, you want to start by incorporating exercises that are similar to the movements you would use during your game.
Bench press, for example, mimics pushing an opponent out of the way to get free, while deadlifts focus on lower body strength helping with the backside power of an athlete. This results in more powerful takeoffs and being able to move quickly from a stationary position.
- Traditional Deadlifts: 3-8 reps x 4 sets
- Barbell Bench press: 5-8 reps x 4 sets
Some more advanced exercises which you can try (once you’ve got the above basics down) are:
- Box Jumps: 3 sets of 10 jumps with 1-minute break between sets (height of box depends on athletic ability)
- Single leg squats (with barbell on a box): 8 reps x 3 sets per leg
Both of these advanced moves really help with athletic ability as well as improving speed and quickness.
Box jumps specifically help the body’s Central Nervous System (CNS) adapt so if an explosive movement happens mid-game (which it will!) your body will know how to properly cope with the stress.
Single leg squats teach each leg to function on its own and help to improve balance as well as strength. This is especially important because in both sports being knocked off your feet happens very often.
Power Building Cardio
Sprints are a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and are the best option for both hockey and football players.
- Sprints: 5-8 reps x 20-30 seconds per rep (aim to be at 95+% of your maximum capacity) with 1-minute breaks in between
If you’re looking to kick it up a notch try adding hill sprints or weighted sled pulls/pushes
Power Building Supplements
Building power also comes from taking the right supplements. To maximize your performance (during both practice and play) here are a few recommendations.
Creatine Monohydrate: directly helps ATP stores, resulting in more power. It can also help increase mass as muscle stay hydrated with adequate water intake1
Beta Alanine: helps increase carnosine levels (this is very important for vegan athletes). Studies show that when carnosine levels are fully saturated endurance is improved meaning you can play harder, longer.2
Whey Protein: there are many types of protein powders out there but the one that has stood the test of time is always whey protein isolate. After a workout whey isolates are quickly absorbed by the body and utilized by the muscles. If you take a whey isolate post-workout make sure to add in some quick-burning carbs (like a natural juice, or fruit) as it helps increase the rate of absorption and restores glycogen levels.
If you follow even some of these tips, I know you’ll have a happy, healthy sporting season. Stay strong #ReflexNation.
Lucas Ference is a Personal Trainer & Marketing Manager out of Flex Fitness Club. He also is a certified digestive health specialist and nutritionist with a keen eye for natural healing.