One of the most common questions I am asked by my hockey athletes is “What do you think about …” and they proceed to ask me about the latest fad in training — P90X, CrossFit, etc.
While each of these have their merits you have consider your goals. Do you want just general, overall fitness? Do you want to merely look good? If those are your top priorities then CrossFit might be for you. Do you have pounds to shed? If so, then maybe incorporating some portions of P90X can help accelerate that process.
Yet if your primary goals include becoming a faster skater, developing more power or becoming stronger on your skates then these programs will have minimum impact on your game. That’s because of something called “specificity.” Just as it sounds, specificity means you need to do exercises that use your muscle specifically like you would for your sport. A seasoned Strength and Conditioning Specialist has the education and experience to analyze not only your sport, but your specific discipline (for example a 500m sprint or a 10k distance speed skater,) or your position (goalie vs. winger.) That doesn’t mean that every exercise will mimic what you do on the ice (or ground) but in simple terms it will progressively build the specific muscles to work a certain way, giving you the best transfer to your sport.
CrossFit, on the other hand, boasts on their web site that “Our specialty is not specializing.” That’s not to say that many people benefit from CrossFit. Many professional athletes will do some CrossFit during their “active recovery” period (usually a month) after their season. This develops muscles that don’t see much work during the athlete’s season and keeps a level of fitness. But the majority of your training (off-season, pre-season and during-season) should be done with a Strength and Conditioning coach who can plan an entire year’s program based on the physiological demands of your sport.
What about P90X and other comparable programs? In addition to the issues I touched upon with CrossFit an added problem with these fad programs is that there isn’t sufficient recovery built in. Your body needs a very specific volume of training for optimal gains — and no more. That doesn’t mean working until you drop day after day. If you want to lose weight fast, then doing this usually short-termed program might do the trick. However, it’s more likely to hurt your game than help.
Just remember: All NCAA and NHL teams have Certified Strength and Conditioning Coaches (CSCS) for a good reason. If you want to make it to The Show, you’ve got to train like the pros.