• Kyle Kokotailo

4 Bike Workout Protocols for Hockey Players

Updated: May 22


Hockey players love to bike.

"I'm just going to hop on a bike" is heard more from hockey players than any other sport athlete I work with, probably combined.

In a previous article we explored whether or not bike workouts, despite their popularity, are appropriate for hockey players. It's one of our more popular articles, and creates some context for why I typically recommend hockey players avoid biking in most situations. Before you dive too deep into this article, I think it's helpful to take a peek at that article and some of the insights as to why biking may not be the optimal tool for your training goals.

That being said, biking can be a phenonmenal way to enhance conditioning in hockey players in many situations such as:

  • It's non-impactful nature, unlike running/sprints, is joint-sparring for players with knee or ankle issues.

  • Players with upper body injuries that prevent running/skating mechanics can use biking to maintain or enhance fitness (this is the most common reason)

  • Ease of use makes bike workouts appealing, not only is intensity easily controlled, but lack of space/running surfaces/weather conditions are all eliminated (although I'd argue if you're healthy, arena stairs are a much more appealling option).

Bike Workouts for Hockey Players

Because I get frequently asked for bike workouts, I figured it'd be helpful for players to share some of the protocol's I use with my players. Typically these are done either post-workout as conditioning work, or are as stand alone workouts (frequently combined with mobility work).

Prior to bike workouts, I preach two key components:

  1. Players must do a full dynamic warmup (with extra emphasis on hip extension). Just because a player isn't playing or lifting doesn't justify skipping a full body dynamic warmup. These movement practices are the most basic version of "pre-hab" work and include the fundamentals of creating a healthier body.

  2. Players must set up the bike in the optimal position for their body. This sounds silly, but so many players just jump with whatever position the last person left it. Take the 45 seconds to setup the bike properly to ensure your leg moves through an optimal range (not fully extending, with a slight knee bend at the bottom position). Also ensure you've adjusted the seat/handle bar proxmity to prevent that forward slumping position. I can hear myself as a annoying nitpicking nag, but putting yourself in the right position beyond intense work is important.

To define our work intensity we use Perceived Rate of Extersion (RPE), this means that a 10/10 in a workout would be the ighest level of intensity you possibly can, while a 5-6/10 would be fairly casual. "Rest" periods are technically considered active rest, meaning that athletes continue to move instead of just sitting. We use these in all of our conditioning workouts.

So with all that information, here are our 4 of our bike conditioning workouts:

Bike Workout 1:

Start with a 2-3 minute bike at a moderate (5-6) pace. Complete all of the assigned rounds in a series before getting off the bike for a 1-2 minute break before the start of the next series. The total length of this workout is 15-20 minutes.

Series A: 20:40 – Bike 20 seconds at pace of 9.5/10 or higher, followed by 40 seconds rest. Repeat 5 times.

Series B: 30:30 – Bike 30s seconds at a pace of 9/10 or higher, followed by 30 rest. Repeat 3 times.

Series C: 15:30 – Bike 15 seconds at a pace of 9 or higher, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 3 times.

Bonus: 10:15 – Bike 15 seconds at pace of 9/10 followed by 10 seconds rest for 4-5 rounds.

Bike Workout 2:

Start with a 2-3 minute bike at a moderate (5-6) pace. Complete all of the assigned rounds in a series before getting off the bike for a 1-2 minute break before the start of the next series. The total length of this workout is 10-15 minutes.

Series A: 2:1 – Bike 1 minute at a pace of 8.5 or higher, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 5 times.

Series B: Bike at moderate pace of 7/10 for 4 minutes.

Bike Workout 3:

Start with a 2-3 minute bike at a moderate (5-6) pace. Complete all of the assigned rounds in a series before getting off the bike for a 1-2 minute break before the start of the next series. The total length of this workout is 10-15 minutes.

Series A: Complete all the following rounds at an intensity of 9/10. 2 round minimum. Work-rest indicated below:

- 10/10

- 20/20

- 30/30

- 40/40

- 50/50

- 60/60

After round 1, you have the option to regress to every other level (10,30...) or continue the entire series.

Tabatta Protocol

Tabatta is a popularized high intensity interval training protocol based on the research of Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Tabata's research found that those using his high intensity protocol versus a steady moderate intensity were not only better aerobically conditioned, but also anaerobically conditioning.

While there's lots of research on this, it breaks down simple to a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, or more specifially 20 seconds of intensity work, and 10 seconds of rest. Traditionally this is suggested for 8 rounds per exercise (ie. body weight squats/push ups/etc) but can easily be used for biking.

Hopefully these give you a few ideas of how we use bike workouts with our players so that you can create your own sessions. The training objecitve and aerobic demand we're trying to elicit is what will dictate how long an athlete's "working" - but bike trainining should ultimately utilize some form of interval training that is challenging your aerobic capacity.

If you have any questions or feedback we'd love to hear it in the comments below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kyle Kokotailo, B.Kin - Performance Coach & Founder of Relentless Hockey


Kyle is a Hockey Performance Specialist who’s worked with hundreds of hockey players from Peewee to Pro. A former elite hockey player, Kyle earned his degree in Kinesiology before becoming a Strength Coach that specializes in hockey performance. Today, he runs Relentless Hockey where he works with players across the world, including pros in over 20+ leagues including the NHL, KHL, and OHL.

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Workouts for Hockey Players.
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