Secret Winter Strength Training for Ectomorphs: Skating!
If you’ve ever found it frustrating to gain weight, felt intimidated by all of the muscle-bound guys at the gym or struggled to figure out just how to train your skinny body, you’re probably an ectomorph.
An ectomorph is a body type that is characterized by lean muscle and a long or delicate build. Think of your typical lanky high school kid, and you’ll get the idea. If you have this body type, don’t worry and don’t feel bad! There are still great ways to gain muscle, agility, strength and speed without having to feel like you need to bench every day or spend hours in the gym. In fact, one of the best ways to work out is to train like a professional athlete and skate like a hockey player!
Through hockey-style skating, you can work a range of muscles that will help change your body type from long and lanky to lean and muscular.
Hockey Players vs Other Athletes
It’s important to recognize that hockey players are not in the gym looking to become as big as possible. They are athletes who move quickly on ice and who are generally required to change directions, speed and extend their bodies in ways the other athletes simply don’t do. The way they train emphasizes their movements and their extensions, and that makes a long and lean body-type perfect for this kind of training.
Training on Ice
Being on the ice can be a weird and new experience for you if you’ve never skated before, but that is one of the things that makes training like an NHL hockey player so efficient. Ice is an unstable and obviously slippery surface that will immediately activate your core simply by trying to keep yourself upright.
When hockey players are skating, they are looking to not only improve their speed, power and condition, but they are working hard to improve their structural balance, something that someone with an ectomorph body type would have difficulty controlling without practice. Also, you can improve your agility, flexibility and prevention of injury from training on ice.
You may think that your body type alone prevents you from being agile or flexible, but moving on ice allows you to focus on the muscles that will improve these aspects of your movement, no matter how long, lanky or skinny you are.
* If you are at any time convinced to take up hockey while reading this, we highly recommend Skates HQ for reading up on the equipment you’ll need.
It is more important for you as an ectomorph to focus on a full-body workout than to isolate one muscle at a time (e.g. leg and chest days at the gym would be isolation workouts). This is simply because your more slender body type cannot handle as much volume at once compared someone with much greater body mass. Being on the ice allows your body to active every muscle from head to toe, so even without realizing it, you are able to get a full-body workout just from skating. You will activate your core in trying to stabilize, your lower body while moving across the ice and even your upper body and chest while trying to keep yourself upright.
Balancing Benefits of Ice Skating
Being able to balance while being tall and lanky can be difficult, but by putting yourself on ice skates and working towards building up your core muscles, you will generally increase your balance in your everyday life. The way you move on the ice will allow you to constantly have to shift from one muscle group to another, which will help you learn which parts of your body you can control to keep your balance and to even improve your posture.
Hockey skating can improve your structural balance in a way that other training regimens cannot. While moving on ice, you will constantly have to shift your weight from one side of your body to the other as well as from the upper part of your body to the lower part depending on how quickly you want to move or in which direction you’d like to go. Structural balance can be difficult for someone with your body type, so by skating and working on changing speed and direction quickly (or as quickly as possible), you are activating muscles that will help you in ways that other workouts can’t.
Hockey players have to be able to move well off of the ice as well as on it, and when you’re trying to train like one, it’s worth trying some of their moves on a warmer surface. Scott Umberger of Umberger Performance is a well-known NHL and hockey strength and conditioning coach, and he recommends basic jump work like simply jumping from the ground to a box, body weight lunges or light-weight deadlifts are all great ways for you to get in some off-the-ice hockey training that will really benefit your body type.
Getting Used to Your New Exercise Program
Now that you’ve started training like a hockey player, it’s not going to be long before you notice that you’ll want to start eating like one too. You’re going to be exerting a lot of energy both on and off of the ice, and it will really accelerate your appetite, which is great! Your ectomorphic body type needs as many calories as you can healthily put into it both before and after an NHL-style workout. Also, make sure you’re getting enough protein intake, and if this is part of your winter bulking program, consider adding a mass gainer to your supplement stack as well.)
So even if you have thought in the past that you would never have a muscular or athletic body, you can now start thinking about changing all of that. Begin training like a hockey player both on and off the ice, and you’ll be able to watch your skinny form transform into an athlete. And most importantly, enjoy it!
Sources: Interview with an actual NHL S&C coach (who is a total dick) and those websites.
I would #1 change the skinny guys eating habits. He needs more calories especially if he’s going to bump up his activity with extra activity. We are talking about a “guy” who burns a lot of calories and doesn’t eat enough and then we are talking about adding in more activity. Food is the cornerstone of this.
#2 Compound movements. Olympic Lifts- starting basic then progressing. Some basic jump work, not plyos for a rookie. Then compound movements for upper and lower body. If they have some experience training they can go heavier on the main lifts then crank the living hell out of the accessory volume.
#3 You’re going have to cycle the energy system work. Hockey is alactic/aerobic. I’d do two days of aerobic based recovery work like MAS (maxim aerobic speed work- see Dan Baker) or tempo work from track. Keeping the HR under 150-160 depending on the person. If you crank shit up during the strength/bulking blocks there will be zero muscle gains.
For my most of my athletes, I got 3 days of main training and 2 days of recovery with accessory stuff like glute, hammies, shoulders, grip ect.
(I’m leaving his exact answers on here just so I can show you what it’s like to talk to an absolute meathead S&C coach. I’ve been friends with Umberger for like 10 years. He’s such a shit cunt, and completely ignored 99% of what I asked him, but said go ahead and use his name and info if we want to keep it in there).