From the Trainer’s Room: The ultimate training goal should be to get stronger, not bigger
You can’t look at Instagram, YouTube or Twitter without seeing some pro athlete or someone trying to be a pro athlete lifting an outrageous amount of weight one time and showing how big or “jacked” they are. It looks and is impressive, but what you might not know is how much pain they have in their joints, how limited their flexibility is and how they can’t move fluidly. The goal of strength training is to improve performance, so is the athlete training to meet the demands of his or her sport or just to look better?
This is not to say that lifting weights isn’t important, but that the goal should be to get stronger so an athlete can perform better on the ice. For a hockey player, it takes strength, power, stability and stamina to battle for a puck in the corner, then accelerate up the ice while holding off a defender. Just lifting weights will not fully prepare an athlete for competition.
A quality strength and conditioning program looks at the demands placed on the athlete and develops a plan to meet those demands. Lifting weights can definitely help, but so can training each leg individually with lunges or rear foot elevated split squats. Other examples are dumbbell exercise on one side such as a chest press or medicine ball rotation throws in a split stance that mimic a skater holding off a defender while attacking the net.
Social media has done a great job of educating people on new concepts of exercise and performance training, but make sure to maximize your effort into becoming a better, more injury-free player instead of one that looks better in the mirror.
Chris Phillips ATC, CSCS, is a former athletic trainer in the NHL with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Washington Capitals and currently owns Compete Sports Performance and Rehab.