Treadmill Workout for Hockey Players
Chances are, you’re here because you’re a hockey player that wants to improve their conditioning levels.
That’s huge - because when it comes to on-ice performance, improving your conditioning is one of the most powerful attributes to taking your game to the next level.
That might sound like a bold statement. Maybe you just want to reduce the “burning legs” at the end of a shift. But let’s consider how elite conditioning levels actually look in a game:
- You can play with more speed for a longer period of time (think of your “speed boost” not running out);
- You’ll capitalize on opportunities as other players fatigue and start playing slower;
- You’ll make fewer physical and mental errors. Most errors and goals against happen when players are 45+ seconds into a shift.
- You’ll get more ice-time, and in key times, because your coach knows can handle it;
- And just generally dominate shifts. It’s tough to play against a player who doesn’t slow down.
So conditioning isn’t just about avoiding burn out, it’s about elevating your game.
The good news is that if you’ve landed on this article, you already know that you need to enhance your conditioning levels – now you just need to learn how.
This article is going to break down the exact treadmill conditioning protocols, after working with thousands of hockey players, that we’ve found that translate the best to improving hockey player’s conditioning on the ice.
It’s important to note that we’re not talking about skating treadmills here. Although technically these workouts and protocols could be applicable to those as well – we’re just focusing this article on the classic treadmill.
So let’s dive in.
5 Things for Hockey Players to Consider
Alright so before getting into the actual workouts that hockey players can do on a treadmill to improve their on-ice conditioning, we wanted to create a short list of things that hockey players should consider before they jump on a treadmill.
How you approach your treadmill work is just as important as what you actually do.
- Treadmill shouldn’t be our first choice. We actually don’t mind the treadmill, but there’s definitely better conditioning tools for hockey players. If we had to choose an order to rank these we’d say: We like field/outdoor conditioning (that allows for change of direction and more natural movement), hill or stairs work, prowler or sled work, treadmill work, bike workouts, and then bodyweight HIIT work. Saying that, sometimes the circumstances make the treadmill the easiest to get in some good conditioning work and that’s all that matters.
- Add an incline. There’s two reasons for this. First, adding an incline creates a higher power output demand. For hockey players, we love this because the on-ice stride demands more power output as well. Secondly, it creates less impact and strain on the joints.
- Nose breath as much as possible. We could write an entire book on the value of nasal breathing. (in fact there are whole books about this including the award winning book “Breath” by James Nestor). We encourage all of our hockey players to breathe through their nose for as long as possible with conditioning work. This helps players train their cardiorespiratory system and breathing mechanics to become more efficient.
- Make sure you’re warming-up before. Conditioning work should never be done cold. It might seem like a hassle when you’re “just jumping on the treadmill” but take 5-10 minutes and go through a full-body and dynamic warm-up.
- Consider combining treadmill/conditioning with other work. It’s rare that we suggest a hockey player just do conditioning. In our workout programs, we’ll typically build this into a bigger workout (at the end of strength training) or in combination with a mobility day. We hate when players add conditioning to their rest days because this just adds strain to a day that’s supposed to be for recovery.
Treadmill Conditioning Workouts for Hockey Players
Alright so let’s get to why you’re really here.
These are the conditioning workouts that we’ve found to be most valuable and effective in enhancing on-ice conditioning levels.
Often, when we’re creating workouts for our hockey training programs, we’ll go with shorter conditioning work that is designed for maximum effectiveness. Our goal is to maximize the output/training effect while minimizing the strain/time.
Some of the treadmill workouts we’ve listed below are a little bit longer than these.
This is because we’re considering these as independent workouts – where it’s either your only work or it’s the main focus (combining with speed work before or mobility/core after).
We’ve also included RPE Scores. This is the intensity that you should be going for the working set. This isn’t the speed or treadmill level, but rather what level of challenge you personally feel.
This allows you to be continuously challenging yourself as you progress. Maybe early in the off-season a 7/10 intensity is running at 6MPH, and then you progress this same workout to a 7/10 being at 7.5MPH later in the off-season.
Make sure you’re appropriately challenging yourself here. We’re choosing these intensities and time after working with thousands of players and being able to see their response to the work. We’re intentionally challenging different energy systems here – it’s not just all gas.
Lastly, when we say “off” this means recovery time. Keep the treadmill running and just step to the side. Make sure you test the speed so your body is prepared before you jump on for the next set.
Save this article, screenshot these workouts, and choose one to get after today!
Treadmill Workout #1
This whole workout should be around 15 minutes. Start with 2-4 minutes of steady state work (7/10 intensity.
- 30s On / 30s Off | 4 sets | 8.5/10 intensity
- 15s On / 30s Off | 4 sets | 9.5/10 intensity
- 4 minutes On | 1 set | high steady state, turned down speed but still pushing it, nasal breathing only for as much as possible.
Treadmill Workout #2
This workout is combining high intensity steady state work with max effort sprints. It should be around 20 minutes in duration. Make sure your steady state runs aren’t jogs but that you’re actively pushing the pace.
- 1 min On / 1 min Off | 3 sets | 8+/10 intensity
- 15s work / 15s rest | 5 sets | 9.5+/10 intensity
- 4 minute work | 1 set | fairly high intense pace which feels like a battle.
Treadmill Workout #3
This workout is shorter than the other ones - but is an intense one. Make sure that you’re really utilizing your rest time to get deep breaths and get the air back in you. Keep the intensity high here.
- 20s work / 10s rest | 10 times | 9/10 intensity
- 1 min work / 30s rest | 3 times | 8/10 intensity
- 2 min work | 1 time | really push the pace for the entire 2 minutes. It should be at a slightly uncomfortable speed.
Treadmill Workout #4
This whole workout should be around 12 minutes. You’ll need a treadmill that allows for an incline – as the first block is looking to utilize more of a hill sprint sprint (10%+).
- 10s work / 20 rest | 6 sets | Max incline with a speed that will allow for a 9/10 intensity
- 40s work / 20 rest | 3 sets | 8/10 intensity
- 3 Minute work | 1 set | fairly high intensity that you can maintain (with a battle) for 3 minutes.
Wrapping It Up
Alright, so hopefully next time you’re thinking about jumping on a treadmill – you can refer to this article for some workouts.
Like we mentioned before, the treadmill isn’t our favorite conditioning tool – but it can be extremely useful for hockey players to get in some savage high intensity conditioning work.
In fact, we often build this type of conditioning, either on the treadmill or bike, into our workouts because it allows for players to really let it rip post workout – and develop their energy systems in the most time efficient way.
If you’re looking for a complete hockey training program, we encourage you to check out the Relentless Hockey training programs. We have 7+ strength & conditioning programs specifically designed for hockey players to maximize their performance on the ice. You can see them all here!
Until next time, get out there & get relentless!
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.