Anyone that’s been working out for any length of time will be somewhat familiar with interval training for hockey players.  The use of a treadmill to perform intervals or a spin bike were originally the way intervals were most often used, but now other forms of interval training are starting to surface and with very positive results.

Interval training for hockey players can be extremely beneficial to their success. 

What players need to realize is that not all forms of interval training are created equal and there are some forms that are much more suited to a hockey player than others.  Like I said previously, you don’t just have to run on a treadmill or use a spin bike and time yourself for 30 seconds hard and 1 minute and 30 seconds off.  From my experience, that’s been the most convenient way to create an interval program, but I’m here to show you a few others that could benefit you in a great way.

1. Tempo Runs

Without getting into too much of the science behind conditioning, hockey falls into the category of sports where you need to have great conditioning in order to perform at a high level from start to finish.  Tempo runs work awesome to help improve and speed up recovery times, which for a hockey player is crucial.  If you’re a first or second line player, you should know that when you come to the bench for a line change, that you’ll more than likely be going right back out on the ice in no time.  You need to be able to recover fast or else your next shift could cost your team a goal because you’re too tired.

Here’s how tempo runs work:

Start out running a distance at around 75% of your maximum speed.  Time yourself until you reach 15 seconds.  Mark where your starting point was and where you ended at 15 seconds.  That’s the distance you’re going to run.

Next, run that distance at 75% of your maximum speed, just like before, and then rest for 1 minute or until your heartrate comes below 135 beats per minute.  If you have a heart rate monitor, this will give you a quick reference point as to how long it takes you to get your heart rate down.

Repeat 10 times to start and then gradually increase to 15 runs.  If you’re really looking for a challenge, try doing these runs on a hill.

2. Explosive Power Intervals

Every hockey player in this day in age needs to be explosive in their skate stride as well as other areas in order to hang with the big boys.  In hockey, the nervous system needs to rapidly recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers during these explosive periods during the game  Everyone should be familiar with plyometrics, as they are well-known as explosive-type exercises, but there are other exercises that can be used for these interval training exercises like medicine ball throws into the wall, explosive push-ups, box jumps, broad jumps, or even explosive pull-ups.

The key is to choose an exercise that requires you to be absolutely explosive and to be able to perform the exercise for about 10 seconds.  This will then be followed by 90 seconds of rest.  You should not be tired after the 10 seconds as the main focus here is to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers.  If you reach 90 seconds of rest and you’re still huffin’ and puffin’, you’ll just need to rest longer or call it a day, as this is not intended to fatigue you.

3. Slide Board Tabata Intervals

The tabata protocol has been all the rage recently and for good reason….it works.  If you’re unfamiliar with the tabata protocol, basically you’re performing 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes.  That’s one round.

For a hockey player, a slide board is an excellent tool to simulate your skating pattern on the ice and is definitely one of the best interval training for hockey players.  The other reason the slide board is a great choice is that you’re simulating skating at high levels of effort followed by a brief rest period.  Think of it like an intense shift followed by a quick whistle.  The puck is going to get dropped pretty quickly, so you need to be ready to go right away.

My suggestion would be to try one round after a strength training workout, or 2-3 rounds on a non-strength training day.  Work to build up the amount of rounds you can complete on a non-strength training day.  If you can do 5 rounds, you’re in excellent condition.

So there’s 3 exercises perfect for interval training for hockey players that will help boost your energy system levels.  Add one of these exercises into your hockey training program at a time until you feel comfortable moving on to the next.  Remember, don’t sacrifice form to speed things up.  Always concentrate on good form first in order to avoid injuries as well as bad habits.