How to Combine On-Ice Practice With Lifting for Best Results

How to Combine On-Ice Practice With Lifting for Best Results

Reader Jeff Harris messages me with a question:



We have a small gym with some weights at the rink where we skate where I do squats, chin-ups, lunges and other exercises.

I can only lift there either immediately before or after practice because of the long drive and work and family commitments.

Do you think this will hurt my progress in the gym?



In a perfect world, you'd do your workout in the morning, then lace up for team practice in the evening. That would give you several hours of recovery time between training sessions.

But we don't live in a perfect world.

So you gotta make do with whatever your situation calls for, and make it work.

With my athletes, we're forced to schedule our lifting sessions around hockey practice during hockey season. Having divided the athletes into smaller groups, some of our guys lift before on-ice training, others after it.

Both have their pros and cons.

You're at your freshest when you lift prior to skating.

So expect solid performance on heavy lower body lifts that tax the nervous system to a high degree - such as power cleans, front squats or deads.

But your performance on the ice takes a hit because your legs will feel heavy.

The exact opposite happens when you skate before ​weights.

Fresh on the ice. Tired at the gym.

A third alternative would be to perform the most neurally demanding exercises first, hop on the ice, then come back to finish the workout with assistance movements that don't require your nervous system to be at 100%.

So which option should you go with?

My advice?

Just get it done.


Shut up and get to work.

Mulling ​such an insignificant detail over will hurt your progress way more than simply loading up a barbell and getting after it whenever you've got time ever could.

I've seen it a million times.

A guy tells me how tired his legs feel coming off the ice. And how he'll need to take it a bit easier today because he thinks he won't be able to go very heavy.

Sure, he may feel somewhat tired. But instead of accepting mediocre effort and performance at face value, I can judge whether his fatigue is ​more mental than physical based on bar speed, his form and overall demeanor.

More often than not, he loosens up a bit and gets his mind right after a few warm-up sets.

Then he ends up hitting a PR.

Which he thought would not be in the cards when first stepping foot inside the weight room today.

So remember this...

Paralysis by analysis is a sneaky little bastard.

And a big reason why certain people never get anywhere with their workouts.

Don't be one of them.

Train hard.

Yunus Barisik

P.S. For a lifting program that perfectly complements your on-ice training, lace up and skate over to:

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Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for an elite junior hockey organization based in Espoo, Finland. He has trained hundreds of hockey players at the junior, college and pro levels, including NHL Draft picks and World Champions. An accomplished author, Yunus has had articles published on top fitness and performance sites, including STACK and Muscle & Strength. He also wrote Next Level Hockey Training, a comprehensive resource for ice hockey players on building athletic strength, size and power, while staying injury-free.