Whether you personally partake in the popular winter activities of ice skating, hockey, cross-country skiing or you have children who do, this Workout of the Month is a must for you and your family. All three of these activities rely on gliding. To be a proficient glider requires a strong core and thighs and good balance and flexibility. What’s more, the exercise industry now understands that strength training for student athletes is not only safe but extremely beneficial in terms of overall performance and injury reduction.
Activity-Specific Workout of the Month Defined: A 30 minute strength and stretch training workout tailored to benefit those who engage in a particular recreational sport or activity. The workouts will be challenging and safe for the novice but will also offer progressions for the experienced. They will have minimal equipment requirements so they can be done anywhere. The goal is to properly strengthen and stretch the key muscle groups involved in the activity so the participant can achieve performance improvements and reduce the risk of injury. Click on the exercise to link to examples and step-by-step descriptions provided by www.acefitness.org.
Strength, Balance and Flexibility Training for Gliding
Concept: Primary strength and stretch targets are the core and upper legs with secondary targets of arms, chest and upper back to offer bracing strength (for falls) and shooting strength (for hockey). Because gliding causes the center of gravity to be in flux, exercises specific to balance training are included. Progressions include agility training which is especially beneficial to hockey athletes as they need to adjust momentum and shift direction often. Be sure you can master the base exercise with excellent form before incorporating a progression. Perform this workout 1-3 times per week, allowing a minimum of 48 hours rest between workout sessions, starting several weeks before and continuing throughout the season:
Warm-Up: 2-5 minutes of high knee marching, swinging opposing arms to shoulder height as you lift knees to hip height.
Strength Workout: Perform the following exercise circuit in succession with no rest between exercises
- Side Lunges: 8-16 repetitions each side. Works quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, adductors (inner thighs) & abductors (outer thighs). Progression: add weight by holding free weights, medicine ball or containers filled with water while performing. Start with lighter weights, 1-5 lbs, until you can easily perform 20+ lunges in a set before progressing to heavier weights.
- Push-Ups on Knees: 8-16 repetitions. Works arms, chest and upper back. Progression: perform on toes
- Forward Lunges: 8-16 repetitions each side. Works quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes & balance. Progression: Inverted Flyers, 8-16 repetitions each side.
- Bird-dog: 10-20 repetitions each side. Works core (abs & back), balance and glutes. Progression: Inchworms, 8-16 repetitions each side.
- Front Plank: Hold for 10-30 seconds. Strengthens entire core. Progression: hold plank for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, return to plank for 10-30 seconds
- After performing each exercise once, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the circuit (side lunges through plank) for a second set of each exercise. After performing the circuit twice, perform the flexibility workout.
Flexibility Workout: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds
- Leg Crossover Stretch: opens up the hips and stretches the outer thigh muscles
- Seated Straddle Stretch: stretches hamstrings, inner thighs and glutes
- Hip Flexor Stretch: stretches hip flexors and glutes
- Downward Dog: full-body stretch with primary targets of glutes, hamstrings and calves
- Cobra: abdominal wall stretch
- Childs Pose: targets core and provides instant relaxation to end your workout
The keys to safe and effective strength training are the same regardless of gender or age – proper warm-up, form, breathing, load, progressions and stretching. The cues for these exercises provided by ACE Fitness (via my links) are excellent and, if followed, anyone can perform this workout safely, even a novice. It’s important to focus on your own body’s feedback and listen to the cues your body is providing you. Adults are much better at reading those cues than children. For this reason, if any of these exercises are new to your child, I recommend having a professional (such as your child’s coach, gym teacher or sports trainer) review the proper form for each of these exercises with your student athlete.
Have fun out there!
Author’s Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Click on the link to view previous Activity-Specific Workouts of the Month: Hockey & Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding & Figure Skating, Golf & Softball, Distance Running, Racquet Sports, Swimming, Waterskiing & Surfing, Cycling, Rowing & Desk Jockeys, Track, Field & Court Sports, Throwing & Pitching, Dancing, Downhill Skiing