High maintenance

 My weekly visit to my home gym, a makeshift setup in an unheated garage, is among my most hated chores.

My weekly visit to my home gym, a makeshift setup in an unheated garage, is among my most hated chores.

Trainers and training books will tell you how important it is for players to spend quality time in the gym throughout a hockey season, to maintain the gains made during the off-season. Even elite players who practice and compete almost daily need to perform maintenance workouts to prevent or slow the fitness backtracking that typically takes place during the season. For a beer league plugger like me, who plays just once a week, these “in between” workouts are even more important, since a single weekly game is not nearly enough to keep the body conditioned or the skills sharp.

Since I started being more proactive about my hockey performance two years ago, I’ve learned through trial and error that, in order to be reasonably sharp for my weekly game, I need to do at least one session of each of the following between games: leg strengthening, stickhandling and agility footwork.

The most drudgerous of these maintenance tasks is the leg strengthening, which involves a date night with my squat rack. These weight-lifting sessions are a pain for a couple of reasons. First – the setup. I have to open the overhead garage door, exposing the space to a sub-zero cold front, then back out my car, quickly close the door and set up my squat racks and barbell.

The other source of pain is the simple fact that lifting weights sucks. I didn’t mind it when I was in my teens and early 20s. In fact, back then, as a randy young stallion brimming with testosterone, I enjoyed pushing my physical boundaries, testing my limits, working up a sweat, blah blah blah. Now I’d rather just kick back with a brewski and bask in the satisfaction of possessing greater wisdom.

However, the fact is that, even in my over-the-hill state, I still enjoy playing hockey and I enjoy it more when I can actually move around without feeling like I’m pulling an Airstream. So this lifting business is a necessary evil if I’m to continue playing at my current level of mediocrity.

So I’ve been sticking with it. About once a week I trudge out to the garage to grudgingly grunt my way through my obligatory movements. It’s been working. I’ve been a more effective player and I’m enjoying hockey more than I have in years, even though I know in the back of my mind that I’m just a worn out nag postponing the inevitable one-way trip to the glue factory.