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DEMERS DEVELOPS DE-BODY: OFF DAY WORKOUT

Islanders Strength and Conditioning coach Jesse Demers takes readers through an off-day work out.

Monday, 08.16.2010 / 9:46 AM ET / News
By Jesse D. Eisenberg
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DEMERS DEVELOPS DE-BODY: OFF DAY WORKOUT
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(This is the third installation in this series.)

Click here for Part 2: Nutrition
Click here for Part 1

Read more one the water workout components.

Islander’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Jesse Demers’ off-season workout program pushes players through a grueling week-long circuit of strenuous weight lifting and cardio exercises. After a tough Monday in the gym and a long Tuesday at the track, this week’s group of Matt Martin, Justin DiBenedetto, Radek Martinek and Frans Nielsen took part in a decidedly different type of warm-up routine before the start of Wednesday’s session.

Instead of jogging around the rink or riding a stationary bike, the players loosened up in a 102-degree hot tub, complete with jets and a waterfall.

“About twice a week we do an ‘active recovery’ day,” explained Demers, who’s responsible for designing off-season exercise programs for every player in the Islanders organization. “They work so hard on the other days that we kind of reward them with, not a day off, but a day where they’re recovering their bodies a little bit.”

The hot tub wasn’t officially part of Demers’ “active recovery” program, but it’s become a popular pre-workout feature of the hump-day routine.  Once the troops were gathered at the spa, they hit the Olympic-sized lap pool for the real workout.

“There’s two reasons why you do the pool program,” Demers said. “To unload the body, because you’re pretty much weightless in the pool, and to improve your range of motion. In the water, there’s very little stress on you, so you can really open up the body.”

The foursome endured an hour-long routine that ranged from swimming laps, to jogging and lunging the length of the pool, to stationary moves like squats, chest flies and shoulder raises. After a not-so-relaxing morning in nearly four feet of chlorinated water, the players’ eyes weren’t the only things burning. 

“You are going to get a little bit of a muscle burn because of the resistance of the water, which hits you both ways as you’re going through a movement,” explained Demers.

While typical out-of-water exercises feature a brief reprieve as the weight is returned to the starting position after each repetition, water provides resistance in both directions of any given movement.

“It’s pretty intense still, but it’s more fun than the other days,” admitted Martin, who’s been working with Demers every week since last month’s Islanders prospect camp. “Working out in a pool isn’t too hard, but it’s definitely good for your hips and shoulders. Swimming laps at the end was tough, but that’s as hard as it got. You definitely get a bit of cardio.”

The cardiovascular component of the workout is crucial to Demers’ muscle recovery program.

As he explains, the players “have so much built up in the body from working so hard over the last two days, that come Wednesday, they really wouldn’t be able to make any gains. When the heart rate increases that much, the blood flow is greater, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles to start the rebuilding process. When they come in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they’re a little fresher.”

Martin elaborated on the need for an “off-day” by further describing his rigorous “on-days.”

“Monday is a big leg day and Tuesday we’re on the track, doing a lot of core and upper body work. Those are two pretty intense days where we build power and strength. Wednesday is the off day and then Thursday is another big leg day. Friday is another track day and than Saturday is our unconventional day, where we flip some tires and carry each other around and do crazy stuff like that.”

Compared to the rest of their week, Wednesday’s “active recovery” workout seems like a leisurely day at the pool.

“Today was a chance to have fun and recover a little bit,” said Martin, who added, “The hot tub is pretty nice too.”

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