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|Getting back in the gym after the season: Blech|
|Written by Justin Bourne|
|Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:08|
NHL players usually get a quick breather after the season – emphasis on quick – then it's back to work to get in top physical shape for training camp. Summers are no vacation.
When the season ends, hockey players are ready for a break, whether they missed the playoffs or won the Stanley Cup. It's not just that your body has had enough, it's just nice to get out of the routine for a little while.
Most jobs are repetitive in nature, and like any other line of work, it's always pleasant to get away from it for a bit. We all get tired of being told where to be all the time, so this is the players' time to deadbeat around for a little bit.
Eventually, however, that summer lounging has to stop. You have to ease your way into your summer workouts, or next season isn't going to be a whole lot of fun.
It used to be that the words "training camp" referred to the place you went before the season to, you know, train. Teams would get whipped back into shape by their coach in preparation for the season, and summer was a legitimate break.
When my Dad started with the Islanders in 1974, this was still somewhat the case. There was an expectation that you didn't come back a slob, but you certainly didn't have to devote months of time with a trainer to show up and reclaim your roster spot. By the time he left the NHL in 1988, it was expected that you show up in good shape.
In 2011, preparing for "training camp" is like preparing for an exam. Players may very well be in their best physical shape of the season at that time.
The old dogs have a little more leeway to get back into things during camp days, but for young guys trying to crack a roster or trying to climb the depth chart, there is no leeway. You need to be ripped with good cardio to show how serious you took things during the off-season.
In the minors, where players climb and fall off the ladder like they're hanging Christmas lights in a hurricane, there is very little room for players to show up out of shape.
This all adds up to the reality that you need to get started early on things if you hope to see any significant gains. You can't wait until a month before the season starts to prepare.
To generalize, the couple weeks after the season ends is party time (for the younger guys, anyway). It's a mini-bender complete with late nights, junk food, and the beach or golf course. School's out for summer.
Combine that with the shape your body is in by the end of the season, and you're digging yourself a decent-sized physical hole. The longer you wait to get on it, the deeper that hole will run.
That means your early workouts are just about getting back to where you've been before. It's so frustrating going to lift weights you know you've been physically strong enough to toss around in the past (like, last summer) and finding out what a battle it really is.
Your cardio fades quickly too, so it's time for full-on workouts after only a few weeks.
Players will start running first while mixing in some weight training. As the summer progresses you move from acquiring bulky muscle via power lifting to working on those fast-twitch muscles via plyometrics (and much more) but, at the start, it's just about getting back to normal.
That first day walking back into the gym – for me, anyway – was a depressing one.
You see all those big chunks of iron you're going to have to move around for the next few months while the sun is shining outside, but what can you do? You know you've been blessed with the opportunity to have a great job, so you exhale, and you get down to business. You don't have any other choice.
Next season is just around the corner, and soon, it'll be time for players to start preparing.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 26 June 2011 17:08|