Ice hockey fitness can be improved in a variety of ways that are similar to the fitness of sports, but also specific to hockey. Many of the exercises involved in the training program should be applied to the ice rink and performed while using ice skates.
Cardiovascular workouts are important for all sports, and especially ice hockey fitness. Ice hockey players should perform cardiovascular workouts for several reasons. The first of these reasons is that the ice hockey player must have a lot of endurance. Bicycling, jogging, swimming, the use of elliptical machines, and sprinting all count as cardiovascular exercise and are all vital for improving ice hockey fitness. Cardiovascular exercises also work to keep body fat low, as long as the cardiovascular exercise takes place for more than fifteen consecutive minutes. If a cardiovascular workout does not exceed fifteen minutes the body does not dip into the body’s stored fat supply for energy, and is therefore not burned during the exercise.
Since skating is the fundamental movement used in hockey, cardiovascular exercises can be done on ice skates, which will improve an ice hockey player's ability to play the game as well as improve his ice hockey fitness. Distance skates as well as sprints can all be done on the ice.
Since ice hockey is such a physically demanding game, an ice hockey player looking to improve his fitness does not want to solely rely on cardiovascular workouts. Defensemen especially should to incorporate a weight lifting routine into the workout regimen, which focuses on the building of strength. Because strength is directly proportional to size, cardiovascular exercises should be a part of a balanced workout regimen, and not relied upon too heavily because too much cardio will begin to deplete the body of muscle tissue as well as fat tissue. Upper body exercises, especially tricep and chest exercises are very important since they rely on a pushing motion, which is often used in the game of hockey. Lower body workouts are important as well. Squats and leg presses are important if one wants to build strong legs, which can improve an ice hockey player's ability to skate faster and generate more power with his checks.
Improving ice hockey fitness does not just take place out on the hockey rink or in the weight room alone. Any type of fitness, including ice hockey fitness, also is highly dependent on a healthy balanced diet. Anybody seeking to improve his or her fitness for any type of physical activity should focus on eating an adequate amount of protein per meal, as well as staying away from sugary and fatty foods which will hinder the building of endurance and lead to unhealthy weight gain.