Gary Roberts
Recovery: Body Maintenance

by Gary Roberts

As hockey players we put our bodies through a lot, both physically and mentally. It is incredibly important to make sure we are optimizing our recovery off the ice. Athletes in general put themselves at risk for strains, pains and pulls if they are not recovering properly. Here are some great ways to effectively recover:

Static stretching can be performed after a practice, game or workout. If you do not have time to do it right after you can stretch right before bed. Some common tight areas to stretch for hockey players are quads, hip flexors, glutes, groins and hamstrings.  

Foam rolling is another great tool for loosening up before, after and in between activity. Use the foam roller over quads, hamstrings, IT band, groin, and back. Accompany this with a soft ball and roll your glutes and hip flexors.  

Most importantly we need sleep to recover. Make sure to get a solid 8 hours of sleep per night and turn off those distracting electronics. Good quality sleep along with staying well hydrated will keep you sharp both physically and mentally to perform at your best. Remember Train, Refuel, Recover, and PERFORM.

Gary Roberts

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All set up at the @gthlhockey cup with our friends @athletescare. Watching some great hockey while talking to families about how we combine #nutrition #training #recovery to help young and pro hockey players #perform.

All set up at the @gthlhockey cup with our friends @athletescare. Watching some great hockey while talking to families about how we combine #nutrition #training #recovery to help young and pro hockey players #perform.

Gary Roberts HPT - Core

Core Stabilization: The Key to Getting Through Playoffs

At this point as we begin playoff season, it is extremely important to focus on core stability to keep you strong and healthy going into the most important time of year. All exercises we do focus on keeping the core engaged but these exercises are specifically for stabilization and activating all core muscles involved in the rigorous game of hockey.

1a) Slider Body Saw: This exercise focuses on keeping a strong core while taking the body through a small range of motion to call on all core muscles to stabilize. The key here is to keep a good plank position (core engaged, glutes squeezed and elbows positioned right under the shoulders). It is important to keep your hips in a neutral position without letting them drop and prevent your lower back from sagging.

1b) Cable Anti-Rotation Press: This exercise helps to resist lateral rotation movement while keeping a strong core. This is extremely applicable on the ice while being pushed off the puck and calling on your muscles to resist that movement. The key to this exercise is to be in an athletic position (feet shoulder width apart, knees bent and hips back with glutes squeezed.). It is also important to hold for a second at the extended arm position for extra core activation. 

1c) TRX Knee Tucks: The TRX is a great piece of equipment which always involves major core muscles. This exercise is great for activating lower abdominals while stabilizing and working through a flexed hip range of motion. While performing this exercise it is important to keep a neutral spine position (pull your ribs towards your pelvis and engage core muscles) and only bring the leg up to a position where the back stays flat without rounding.

Click to see video for proper form and technique.

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What a fun day with this group of guys! On the agenda: Healthy breakfast, #Nutrition + #training seminar, followed by skating drills & scrimmage.  Attending were our current executives and their guest interested in living a more balanced high performance lifestyle in home, work and play. #train #refuel #recover #perform

What a fun day with this group of guys! On the agenda: Healthy breakfast, #Nutrition + #training seminar, followed by skating drills & scrimmage. Attending were our current executives and their guest interested in living a more balanced high performance lifestyle in home, work and play. #train #refuel #recover #perform

How to warm-up before on-ice and strength workouts

I strongly believe there are three aspects that make up optimal hockey performance; training properly, refuelling adequately with healthy nutrition, and recovering well. Refuelling requires providing our bodies with the proper nutrition at the right times in order to maximize our energy levels both on and off the ice and start the recovery process. In order to recover adequately we must get enough sleep, and listen to our bodies when extra care is needed. When it comes to training I cannot stress enough the importance of proper form and technique as well as warming up appropriately to prepare your muscles for activity whether you are warming up before an off-ice strength training workout or hitting the ice for a game or practice.  A good warm-up not only prepares our body for activity but it helps to avoid any tweaks or injuries cold muscles can endure.   By warming up we are creating body awareness and control before intense activity on or off the ice.

What should a warm-up include?

We want to follow this specific order so we are increasingly getting warmer and mimicking the patterns we will be performing.

Warm-ups should always include the following:

  • Foam Rolling- helps to break down fascia for optimal lengthening of muscles as well as helping to improve movement and function of the muscles to avoid common injuries.
  • Dynamic Stretching/ Mobility- it is important to loosen up our muscles without static stretching before activity. Dynamic stretching more closely resembles what the body will be doing during exercise as opposed to holding a particular position for an extended period of time. The purpose of dynamic stretching is to increase movement of the joints through a specific range of motion. Example: Walking Lunges with Knee Grab.
  • Activation/Stability – this is so important because it helps to turn on the right muscles and wake up the mind to muscle connection.  Unfortunately, our muscles do not just fire as we would like them to all the time, especially before skating or working out, so they need a little push. As hockey players we are often over using the same muscles (quads, hip flexors) and this can create muscle imbalances. As a result, we need to activate those other muscles involved that typically do not just kick in when we need them. For example, one of the major muscles we want to activate for hockey is our glutes. Example: Glute Bridges, Wall Knee Drive
  • Movement Preparation/ Fast Feet- now that muscles are warmed up we want to increase core temperature with some faster movements.  Example: “A” March/Skip
  • Explosive Movements- hockey is an explosive sport so it is important to focus on preparing our bodies for quick powerful movements - think of your first strides on the ice. Key warm-up exercises are those that involve creating force under a short interval of time. Example: Squat jumps.

What should a warm-up include before you go on the ice?

We are often restricted with enough time for warm-ups before playing but it is still crucial to keep the body’s core temperature elevated before you hit the ice. This is why we want to do the warm-up as close as possible to jumping on the ice. Before you have to suit up in your gear throw on a tuque with a track suit for your dry-land warm-up to stay warm and get a light sweat going. Some movement preparation exercises you can do before you step on the ice include:

  • Dynamic Stretching/ Mobility- elongating specific skating muscles (hip flexors, groin, mid back). Examples:  Leg Swings
  • Activation- getting skating muscles firing (hips, glutes, groin, core). Examples: Wall Knee drive for glute activation.
  • Movement Preparation- we want to get our heart rate and core temperature elevated. Example: “A”March/ Skip
  • Explosive Exercises- getting our bodies ready for those first powerful strides on the ice. Example: Squat jumps

What should a warm-up include before a strength training workout?

Although similar to a warm-up done before playing, we want to focus on the major muscles that are going to be worked during the strength training workout to get those those muscles fired up and ready! Our workouts include major core lifts that involve a lot of muscles working together to perform a movement, so it is very important to warm up properly. We want every muscle to be firing with particular focus on the posterior chain (back, glutes and hamstrings) and core activation.  These muscles are so important for hockey players to focus on because of the over-use of quads, hip flexors and groins during skating. We want to help balance these major muscles.  Before a strength training workout we always make sure we incorporate:

  • Dynamic Stretching/Mobility- We need to focus on major muscles worked during the lift. As hockey players we usually want to loosen up hip flexors/ groin and mid back (thoracic spine) mobility. Example: Walking knee grab with lunge
  • Activation- What are the muscles we will be using primarily? Usually we want to wake up our glutes as well as our core because they play a major role in most lifts. Example Glute Bridges
  • Movement Preparation- just like our warm-ups before we go on the ice, we want to get sweating, increase our heart rate and get our feet moving. Example: “A” March/ Skip
  • Explosive Exercises- explosive exercises off- ice will be transferable for on- ice work. We want to prepare our bodies for speed and power on the ice.  Example: Squat Jumps
  • Warm-up sets- I will always stress how important technique is before increasing weights. With all our athletes we make sure that they are doing warm-up sets of the core exercises they will be performing. For example, with squats we will do a lighter weight for 1-2 sets, ensuring our technique is good, before we begin to increase the weight.

Exercises:

Activation: Glute Bridge (strength): This is a great activation exercise for our glutes and core which as mentioned play a key role in both off-ice and on-ice work.

* Gary’s Tips: Keep your knees over your ankles, squeezing your core and glutes. Drive your hips up into the air by pushing your heels into the ground. Hold for 1 second at the top and slowly lower.

Activation: Wall Knee Drive (Ice): This is great for at the rink where you may not have space to activate the glutes.

*Gary’s Tips: Keep body straight by pulling the shoulder blades back and down and keeping the core tight. Squeeze the back glute and hold for 3 seconds then switch legs.

Dynamic/Mobility: Knee Grab with Walking Lunge (Strength): This is a great dynamic mobility exercise because you are actively stretching your glutes as well as firing your quads, glutes and hamstrings with the lunge.

*Gary’s Tips:  Make sure to stay tall when grabbing your knee and going straight into the lunge, keeping the chest up to avoid the knee going past the toe. Drive up through the heel of the front foot firing your glutes and hamstrings.

Dynamic/Mobility: Leg Swings(Ice):  This exercise helps to loosen up  hips by actively taking them through extended range of motion.

*Gary’s Tips: Make sure to stand tall without letting the trunk fall forward, keeping good posture. Swing the leg to the point of a bit of a stretch but not painful.

Movement Preparation:”A”March/Skip: This exercise gets the hips warmed up as well as increasing the heart rate in preparation for activity.

*Gary’s Tips:  Stay tall by keeping your chest up and stay on the balls of your feet, driving your leg down into the ground.

Explosive Exercise: Squat Jumps: This is an explosive exercise which uses the all of the lower body muscles involved in skating.

*Gary’s Tips: Be sure to keep the chest up and make sure the heels hit the floor before jumping. Use your arms and push hips through to jump for height.

With our young athletes on the ice more than ever, proper in-season training is essential for any athlete trying to take their game to the next level.  People often get this confused with conditioning workouts (i.e. circuit training), which are not as effective for hockey - especially in-season. The key to preventing the loss of lean muscle mass throughout the season is consistency and an effective strength-based program. The goal here is to find a program specific to the sport and the individual that will help maintain their off-season gains and keep them strong well into playoffs.

Players and parents are often unsure about how they can add in-season training to their schedule, which already includes ice 4-6 times per week. It is important to recognize that with just 1-2 training sessions per week, players can achieve the following benefits:

  1. Strength based training will reduce the speed at which off-season gains decline, allowing players to sustain a higher level of play for longer (i.e. peak in playoffs). Think of it this way; the better condition players are in at the end of their season, the better position they will be in to make further gains in the next off-season.
  2. I’ve never claimed that any training program would prevent injury but I do believe athletes can lower their risk of injury by including proper corrective and postural exercise in their program. This will help fix imbalances in order to take pressure off certain key muscle groups such as the groin, shoulder, lower back and hip that are overused during the season. It also makes these muscle groups, ligaments and tendons stronger and more mobile.
  3. Lastly, along with proper nutrition, in-season training helps reduce post-game recovery time thereby allowing players to practice and train effectively which leads to more consistent performance.

Over the years, what I have come to understand is the notion of quality years of training. Young athletes should work to make significant gains in the off-season and maintain those gains in-season. This cycle of work will keep them on an incline - always reaching to their highest potential.

For more information on year round training programs or to book a tour of the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre, please call Jeremie Dupont at 647-228-2882 or e-mail him at jdupont@fitnessinstitute.com.

Gary Roberts Signature

Gary

Hanging out with this legend at the #winterclassic!

Hanging out with this legend at the #winterclassic!

Post workout meal for Stamkos after good session and skate on the outdoor rink. #shinny #refuel

Post workout meal for Stamkos after good session and skate on the outdoor rink. #shinny #refuel

Great time on the ice with Stammer today. #christmaseve #hockey #shinny #outdoor #rink #stevenstamkos

Great time on the ice with Stammer today. #christmaseve #hockey #shinny #outdoor #rink #stevenstamkos

#7’s Top 7 Nutrition Tips

The season is well underway and so I want to remind you that paying attention to your Nutrition and fueling properly everyday is crucial to high performance. Here are 7 Nutrition Tips I live by; incorporating these into your daily routine will be your Edge this season.

1. Keep Hydrated: On and off the ice you are losing a lot of water through sweat while exercising. Make sure you are having a minimum of 8 glasses per day and you need an extra liter a day if you are exercising. Avoid being thirsty; this is the first sign of water loss and dehydration.
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2. Fiber at Every Meal: Fiber is crucial to help our bodies with healthy digestion. Good sources of fiber are raw veggies and fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds and milled flax seed.
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3. Refuel: Make sure to have a good quality recovery protein shake within 30 minutes of exercising or being on the ice. Within 90 minutes, you should be having a refueling meal such as a grilled chicken breast with sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and a leafy green salad.
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4. Preparation: You should never be searching for your next meal; planning and preparation will be your key to fueling properly. Pack snacks for the day including: Trail mix, raw veggies and hummus, apple and almond butter, fresh fruit and healthy bars like Dr. Vie or Raw Revolution bars.

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5. Lean Protein: Protein is your building block for strong muscles. Be sure to choose lean meats like chicken, turkey (preferably organic) and fish (preferably wild caught and organic) and beef (preferably grass fed) in moderation. You can also get good protein sources from non-animal, plant-based foods like beans, legumes, quinoa/ whole grains, nuts and seeds.

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6. Healthy Fats and Oils: Choosing healthy oils and stay away from oils that have been “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”. Read labels and choose oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut and flax oil. Select fats like avocados and nuts/seeds.

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7. Replace Table Salt with Himalayan Pink Rock Salt: As mentioned earlier with hydration, our bodies lose a lot of water while exercising and we also lose a lot of our sodium. Himalayan Pink Rock Salt is packed with nutrients and minerals we need to help keep proper electrolyte balance.

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Never go hungry; food is your fuel for optimal performance!

Gary Roberts

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All geared up for the #omhashowcase. Be sure to stop by the booth for team training giveaway + healthy tournament tips!

All geared up for the #omhashowcase. Be sure to stop by the booth for team training giveaway + healthy tournament tips!

Gary Roberts the basketball player? - #TBT #betterathockey

Gary Roberts the basketball player? - #TBT #betterathockey

Glute activation video now up on www.YouTube.com/garyrobertshpt. Check it out for details on how to get your FREE mini band from @TF_Canada! #gettowork

Glute activation video now up on www.YouTube.com/garyrobertshpt. Check it out for details on how to get your FREE mini band from @TF_Canada! #gettowork

Strength Maintenance Part 2

As discussed in the previous post it is important to continue to do off-ice strength workouts every 5 days throughout the hockey season so we do not lose our gains we made in the summer program. We also want to always include good dynamic warm-up exercises (example: core activation exercises) which can be done more often before we go on the ice and before workouts. Last article we looked at a Trapbar Deadlift and a Half kneeling Landmine press. Today we will discuss a single leg exercise; Dumbbell Split Squat and a pulling exercise; TRX Row (to be done with 2-4 more strength exercises for complete workout)

2a) Dumbbell Split Squat:

When we look at skating and break down the motions involved there is an emphasis on single leg strength; the DB Split squat is a great exercise for this. The split squat is strengthening our quads, hamstrings and glutes while stretching our hip flexors which are notoriously tight on hockey players because of being constantly in a flexed forward position while skating. *See video for proper form and technique

2b) TRX Row:

In hockey we see a lot of upper body pushing motions but not as much pulling on the ice. It is always important to keep our bodies as balanced as possible and that is why pulling motions using our back muscles are crucial for hockey players. The TRX row is a full body pulling exercise which incorporates your core and postural muscles. * See video for proper form and technique

Gary

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Strength Maintenance Part 1

Another physically demanding season has begun and we want to maintain the strength gains we made in the summer.  We can do this by incorporating full strength maintenance workouts once every 5 days along with good dynamic warm-up exercises (example: core activation exercises) which can be done more often before we go on the ice and before workouts. These strength maintenance exercises are meant to incorporate full body movements which will help to keep you strong, balanced and ready for the ice!  Two of the best strength maintenance exercises are Trapbar Deadlifts and Half Kneeling Landmine Press (to be done with 2-4 more strength exercises for complete workout)

1a) Trapbar Deadlift: This exercise is great for strength maintenance because it incorporates those muscles hockey players constantly need to be triggering; Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads. With skating the quads become very dominant so we would need to be targeting the glutes and hamstrings as much as possible. The Trapbar deadlift is an excellent lower body exercise which incorporates these muscles while keeping good posture. * See video for proper form and technique

1b) Half Kneeling Landmine Press: This full body exercise focuses on upper body pushing with emphasis on core strength which will help with stability and being strong on the puck. The Half kneeling position gives us a solid base with incorporating hip stability.  * see video for proper form and technique

Gary

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