Strength Maintenance Series Part 3 – What To Do

Welcome to the last part of the strength maintenance series! You are just a few words away from being a lost puppy in the weight room during the season. While you may not feel like a full blown expert, you will still know enough to be productive with your time. By now, you should know how our body responds to create strength, and how to effectively add strength maintenance into a workout; and if not, go back and read PART 1 and PART 2. This post is all about WHAT to do when training to maintain strength. When asking yourself the question “what should I do today that will help me maintain my strength?” there are three considerations that need to be kept in mind. They are:

Big lifts and main lifts – these are actually two things but they are closely related so I’m considering them as one

Specific lifts

Lifts that are not contraindicated (big fancy word for “not good to do”)

The first consideration of big lifts and main lifts is important as it allows us to get the most bang for our buck, so to speak. Big lifts refer to lifts that work large areas of the body at one time. The bench press, squats, pull-ups, and deadlifts are examples of big lifts because they use multiple muscle groups (i.e. quads, hamstrings, glutes, groins are all used to perform squats) at one time. Main lifts refer to lifts that are the best (and most common) for producing strength. Inherently, main lifts produce strength well because they work large muscle groups. For this reason, many main lifts are big lifts, and vice versa.

The next piece of the “what” puzzle is choosing lifts that are specific to the sport. The reason for this goes back to getting the most bang for our buck; that is, when training for hockey we want to do something that is going to make us better at hockey. It does not make sense for a hockey player to train like a swimmer, nor would it make sense for a swimmer to train like a hockey player. The idea of specific helps us get the most out of our training. It keeps us doing exercises that will make us faster, stronger, quicker, etc. on the ice. There is an exception, however. One can only be so specific with their training before they are no longer achieving what they planned to achieve. Take this clown for example; he has taken specific to an entirely new (and ridiculous) level.

This leads us to the last consideration we need to make when choosing exercises. The lifts performed to maintain strength should do so without injury. Going back to our clown in the video above, it’s surprising he doesn’t break his ankles squatting in hockey skates, not to mention he’s probably not squatting enough weight to preserve his strength with the added challenge of skates. The other piece of contraindication is avoiding movements that are repeated excessively when playing hockey. During practice and games there are certain movements that occur a very high amount of times. Compounding these movements with movements that mimic them in the weight room is not always smart. It’s a good way to cause an injury due to the overuse of a body part, joint, limb, etc. An example of this would be twisting motion. Twisting from the torso is very common in hockey, so doing bicycle crunches, landmine rotations, or other twisting abdominal exercises would be contraindicated. Deadlifts are another exercise that I would stay away from, due to the stress placed on the lower back.

Keeping our considerations in mind, here are a few exercises that are my favorite for in-season strength maintenance. These may not surprise you at all.

Back Squats / Front Squats / Bulgarian Split Squats

Pull-ups / Seated Rows / Inverted Rows / Lat Pulldown

Bench Press / Incline Bench Press / Dips

Putting it all together, a typical workout may look as such, where letters indicate supersets.





A1. Power exercise




B1. Squats


7, 5, 3, 1


B2. Upper body prehab



C1. Bench Press


5, 3, 3


C2. Lower body prehab




D1. Pulling accessory


5, 3, 3


D2. Pushing Accessory




That’s all for the strength maintenance series. If you have any questions about strength maintenance shoot me a comment or chirp me on twitter, @CoachCherekos.

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