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Coaches Blog « canadianprofessionalhockeyschools.com
Coaches Blog

Anaerobic Conditioning for

Sport Performance:

When people think of fitness and endurance, the word aerobics is most often mentioned. Aerobic fitness is important for most athletes. When tested, it is expressed as V02 max. A high V02max contributes some endurance and between shift recovery. But it is not the most important energy system. While even some old school coaches and exercise physiologists have V02 on the brain, sprinting, speed, quickness, strength and power are all anaerobic actions. Your anaerobic energy systems fuel your most intense efforts. High speed hockey breakaways, stop-and-starts on the basketball court, open field tackles, races for lose balls, checking in lacrosse and full intensity burst to run and dive to catch a ball, all rely on anaerobic conditioning.

Not many sports are looking for athletes who can move slowly, at a continuous pace, for a long duration. In multi directional sports like rubgy, lacrosse, tennis and volleyball, success is reliant on repeated bursts of explosive power, energy consuming acceleration deceleration sequences, and high-speed skill execution.

Your anaerobic fuel is available immediately but quickly depleted. Supra intense anaerobic conditioning is needed to extend the time the anaerobic systems can supply high-pace energy before it is depleted, and accelerate the ability to replenish this sprinting fuel. A well trained anaerobic system is also needed to handle higher levels of conditioning, producing result-oriented training that is dependent on work load and intensity.

Anaerobic conditioning is evident in high paced well run practices. In training sessions, it is most often structured as repeated sprint intervals. For example, preseason training phases are characterized by high intensity anaerobic work – speed endurance, quickness, agility, and explosive power, and presents an ideal time to ramp up anaerobic abilities.

During the off-season, I stay away from too much bike training, track running, and stairclimbing options. I recommend a shift away from these repetitive mechanics in a straight ahead path. Off-season anaerobic work is characterized by multi directional internals, competitive and unpredictable shadowing drills, and resistance tools like parachutes and resistance harnesses that force harder efforts to run but allow for cross overs, cornering and turns, as well as backwards and lateral movement.

Long duration agility drills, high rep (30) squats, super setting lifts, circuited plyometrics, resisted follow-the-leader drills with parachutes, partner shadowing drills with lateral movement tubing, and confined space games in which players are always on-task, all contribute well to anaerobic capacity.

In-season, athletes get anaerobic conditioning within practices (and of course games if we want to be successful!) through varied movement patterns and stop-start actions. Inseason, players may occasionally opt for bike training to unload from those multi directional sport demands and the overload placed on the body during repetitive direction changes. One of the reasons triathletes traditionally experience so few injuries is their cross training.

In-season or off-season, manipulating four key training variables will determine your results and progression: duration (of each sprint interval), intensity (defined by load, speed and heart rate), density (amount of active recovery between each sprint interval), and volume (total number of sprints by time).

I prescribe heavy resistance, high speed intervals to overload the legs and preferentially demand anaerobic fuel supply. Begin with six to eight 30 second internals with a 1:4 work to rest ratio, always using active rest to recover between each sprint interval. Progress to a one-to-one work to rest ratio before increasing sprint duration to 45 seconds at a 1:2 work to rest ratio.

I also add on 60 second intervals with shortened recover phases to build lactic acid tolerance, giving players the mental ability to generate and coordinate powerful efforts in the face of anaerobic depletion and lactate accumulation (when their legs become fatigued, heavy and sore).

Increase the intensity (i.e. resistance) of an interval; then the length of each interval while also allowing longer recover time; next make sure the speed of movement is high throughout each interval; then begin to trim down the between-sprint recovery time. This produces massive gains, after which athletes can return to the first step and take the intensity up another notch!


Plan Ahead

An efficient training session is meticulously planned and executed. Strength coaches aren’t sitting around choosing workouts of the day. They’re building training sessions that seamlessly fit within a comprehensive program dedicated to the long-term goal of athletic development. Because it’s more than just one good workout we’re looking for, right? We’re looking for the right workout for a given athlete at a given time to enable that long-term progress. The best strength coaches—and arguably the best anything coaches—show up to each training session with a specific plan of what they want to get done that day.

Here at CPHS, our strength coaches are constantly working to optimize the efficiency of each training session in an effort to get the most out of it without wasting athlete time and effort. But this is always bit of a challenge because we don’t want athletes training longer, sacrificing rest, or rushing through their workouts. So, planning is crucial. One of the strategies we use is to organize the training day in order of movement priority, so if for some reason a team/athlete runs out of time and has to cut the workout short, we know they have accomplished the major movements for that day. Consequently, the ground-based, multi-joint power and strength movements come first in the training session. This also enables the athletes to perform the most technical and metabolically-taxing movements when they are fresh and at their most capable, giving them the best opportunity to safely execute the lifts.

Another programmatic strategy we use to build an efficient training session is to pair movements together that don’t require similar equipment or space. In my
personal opinion, this is an underrated strategy that has served us well. For instance, we won’t pair a dumbbell lunges with dumbbell rows. Why? Because then
everyone in the weight room is fighting over the same dumbbells. We also rarely pair two movements together that both require the use of the squat rack (or any other piece of structural equipment). An example of an efficient pairing for us here at CPHS HQ is a barbell back squat (barbell, inside the rack) paired with a dumbbell row (dumbbell, outside the rack). With these strategies in mind, we feel confident that our workouts are enabling athletes to get the most out of each training session.

We can prepare for you, your OFF-ICE PROGRAM if you are doing our CAMP this summer.

Just contact our strength conditioning trainer Coach Army at

Coach Army

TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves Miracles
“This is your adventure…make it great!”


Before you even begin to read this article, stop for a moment and answer this question:

Who are the great leaders in history?

As I sat down to write this article about leadership, I tried to answer that same question.  The first great leaders that came to mind were Abraham Lincoln, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey and Bobby Orr.  Maybe you came up with some of the same ones.

But the next question in my mind was:

What makes a leader GREAT?

Pondering this question in light of the names that I listed made me realize something.  The one thing that ALL of these leaders had in common – no matter what their end goal or who they were leading  – was that they TRULY BELIEVED in what they were doing.

Think about it.  Each of the people I listed believed in the very fiber of their being, that what they were doing was the RIGHT thing to do.  Despite tremendous pressures to the contrary, they stood by their BELIEF and held fast to their commitment until their vision was carried out.

When someone so firmly BELIEVES in their cause, others stand up and notice. When a leader BELIEVES that what he/she is doing is RIGHT, they gain the trust and admiration of their followers.

This month is about “BECOME A LEADER”.

What does it take for us to become GREAT leaders as well?

We need to BELIEVE in what we’re doing!

We need to KNOW with every ounce of our being that what we are doing is the RIGHT thing. We need to know our VALUES.  We need to follow our MISSION.  We need to have a VISION, and we need to live our PURPOSE.

Belief in what we’re doing, belief in what we’re creating, belief in our team to be able to change or reach their goals, belief in our teammates to trust them and belief in yourself to lead by example. This is a skill of GREAT LEADERS!

Now I know what you’re thinking – “How do I do that? How do I BELIEVE so firmly despite all the fear I have about making it happen?  How do I maintain my BELIEF when others are telling me that what I’m doing is wrong or impossible?  How do I continue to LEAD when I am not certain?

Here are some action steps to help you create a STRONG BELIEF within yourself:


a. Take time to write them down and then read them from time to time to remind yourself WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU STAND FOR.  Become VERY CLEAR about it.


a. It is important to continually be surrounded by people who have the same values and beliefs.  Knowing you are not alone helps to give you strength even when the going gets tough.


a. In order to BELIEVE, you have to create the same thoughts OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Reading books that inspire you, motivate you or teach you is a great way to get your mind repeating supportive messages over and over again.


a. Tell people what you think.  Tell people what you believe.  Share your philosophy. Speaking your truth quietly, but clearly, allows you to practice it, hear it and reinforce it.


a. We all falter. We all have moments of doubt. But the key is to ACT AS IF it is true, even when you’re feeling uncertain.  Stand tall!  Lean in! State your belief as if it is true and others will read that as certainty within you.

Great leadership begins with a strong belief!  Foster that belief within yourself and others will surely follow!

Coach Army

Coach Army’s Blog

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