In-Season Training for Hockey Players

In-Season Training for Hockey Players

The following is a small excerpt from Next Level Hockey Training 2.0 about in-season training for hockey players:


"You get bigger and stronger in the off-season. The best you can do is to maintain those gains in-season."

That line has been parroted ad nauseam to the point where guys blindly accept it as the holy truth. And they coast through hockey season while not even trying to improve their strength and power.

Yes, the above statement holds true if you're an NHL'er or elite hockey player competing in 80+ games per year.

Workouts - which don't take place too often, given that traveling takes up a huge chunk out of the players' season - are geared toward recovery and boosting on-ice performance in the short-term, not pushing up your maxes in the gym.

If you're reading this manual, you're not playing in the NHL.

So let's get this nonsense that you can't improve your physical qualities during hockey season right out of your head.

No matter if you followed the Junior (3x/week) or Pro (4x/week) lifting plan in the off-season, once hockey season begins, we'll drop lifting frequency down to 2x/week.


Any less than twice per week, and you can forget about getting stronger.

On the other hand, lifting more than twice per week on top of all the on-ice practices can put you deeper into a recovery hole, which will negatively impact hockey performance.

So twice weekly hits the sweet spot.

As for programming, we'll continue with the tried and true method of switching between accumulation and intensification phases.

However, there are a few key changes compared to the off-season program:

* As mentioned, training frequency will drop from 3-4 weekly lifting sessions down to twice weekly.

* Overall training volume per session decreases as well.

We're looking at 16-20 working sets per workout on average. Some weeks, we'll go even lower than that.

* Directly related to the previous point, workouts should be kept short.

While lifting sessions in the off-season can continue up to 60-75 minutes (counting from your first work set of the day), we want to be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes or so during hockey season. 60 minutes, tops.

Not only does keeping your workouts short and concise require you to maintain a solid pace throughout each session, thus boosting your general fitness levels, it's also mentally much easier knowing that you have less than an hour to make things count.

* We'll forego slow eccentrics (anything longer than 3 seconds) since they cause too much muscle soreness.

Guys hate going into games with "heavy" legs, so no slow negatives in-season.

You will be sore at times during the season. That can't be completely prevented when training with the purpose of improving off the ice. But crippling soreness should never be an issue.

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"Our team followed Yunus' Next Level Hockey Training System over the summer.

Guys got a lot stronger in the gym and I couldn't help but notice how the entire team looked faster when we got back on the ice for the pre-season.

But now we also have objective proof. We tested our players on 30 meter on-ice sprints before the off-season in May and again after 16 weeks in August.

The results:

Every single player improved their sprint time! Biggest improvement was 0.277 seconds.

Even a 36-year-old veteran entering his 18th pro season got faster, which is practically unheard of. Most guys at that stage in their career lose a step or two every year.

This also makes my job a lot easier going forward because the guys no longer question what we do off the ice. They've experienced the gains a smart off-ice program can produce and now trust my ability to help them achieve higher performance.

So thank you again!"

- Mikko Tolvanen
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Sport Vaasa, Finnish Elite League


"I followed a 3-day per week, full-body training program Yunus designed for me this off-season.

I really enjoyed all the variation in exercise selection and execution included in the program. It helps keep your training fresh and interesting over time.

With other workout plans, you might end up doing the same three or four movements for months on end. That becomes boring real fast.

Another thing I noticed was how quickly my strength increased. Within just a few short weeks, I was lifting notably bigger weights compared to the beginning of the summer.

And at the end of the off-season I set multiple lifetime personal records, including new bests in 3RM front squats and power cleans.

Based on pre-season games and practices so far, I'm also feeling faster on the ice.

So you could say I'm very happy with my results since gaining strength and speed is exactly what I wanted to achieve with my off-season training this summer."

- Teemu Väyrynen
Forward, TPS Turku, Finnish Elite League


​For a training program pro hockey players and strength coaches rely on to get stronger and faster, visit:

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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.