Train off ice so that you are fitter than what you need when you are on the ice.
Listen to Episode 38: Brushing Workout Tips HERE for more info
This means that you don’t need to worry about feeling out of breath, or managing your jelly legs during a game.
= the following become easier:
- judging rocks,
- remembering paths,
- communicating with the team,
- throwing consistently,
- generating & controlling various levels of power,
- and being an awesome teammate.
We’ve all felt this at one point:
So what can you do about it?
In 2018 I came up with The Thompson after diving into the science around why our legs can feel heavy and lose their “feel” at the end of a game; even though most of the hard work is done by the upper body while sweeping (& in reality, brushing is a full body activity).
There is a lot at play here in terms of physiology, so instead of boring you with the nerd-talk (creating lactic acid, using it as fuel, and requiring a strong aerobic system to remove it (LA) and other waste products efficiently), I’ll dive into what we can do about it.
A few things to consider when training to become a better human, athlete, curler or brusher:
- Your training should* provide you with a solid foundation in movement, strength and endurance before advancing to more advanced training regimes (like The Thompson 1.0 & 2.0)
- I advise building up your strength and endurance throughout a program to allow you to complete more dynamic movements such like what are provided in this article. Some off ice exercises to help you improve your brushing.
- Technique is important when we are talking about efficiency on the brush.
- Practice should not be discredited.
- Energy management is not just related to fitness, it is also a skill
*I recognize that there are different training theories and methods to achieve similar outcomes. This is not a one size fits all scenario. More offseason training tips here.
In a nutshell, we want to use training to familiarize the body around how to complete high intensity muscular strength, power and endurance; specifically in the upper body.
It’s not good enough to do cardio intervals with just our lower body (think sprints or sled pushes -which I adore), or just our upper body (battle ropes and brushing intervals), we need to take a full body approach to our brush training so that we are familiar with requiring energy & stamina in not just the upper body, but also the lower body.
This is a long winded way of saying:
"full body interval training is necessary for long term efficient & effective brushing".
As a result, I came up with this cruel little workout with the goal of making brushing on the ice easier. This made judging rocks, remembering paths, communicating with the team and being an awesome teammate something I could make a priority, without getting distracted by jelly legs or feeling out of breath.
Warning: it is not for the feint of heart. It is recommended during the final phase of an off-season training program; after a few months of focused foundational strength, cardio and movement training, and various progressive strength and endurance intervals.
But don’t be dismayed, if you’re new to this you could break the workout down into chunks:
- Try the individual exercises (which I have many variations for; think regular lunge and regular squat and regular overhead press, or [insert other appropriate upper body exercise here] if you’re not quite ready for these dynamic variations).
- Use the idea and put your own little on or off ice brushing prep workout to the test
- Or, if this makes you realize that “woops, I forgot to workout for the curling season” <–it’s not too late! Check out The Kickstarter, or email me about other DIY & custom programming options (check services or email).
Here is The Thompson 2.0:
Complete 4-10+ rounds, depending on your fitness level & your goals. Take 20 min break between sets. Bonus: work on nasal breathing throughout.
Give it a try, and report back. If you invent a new variation, I’d love to hear what you think (send me an email or tag me on IG!)! If becoming a Better Brusher is a priority for you this winter, you can sign up for a video coaching session, and/or get on the waitlist for the winter cohort of the Better Brushing program.
Don’t know how to make your own dryland brushing setup? Read this.
Stephanie Thompson is a former student-athlete at Western University and is a certified Kinesiologist who plays on the WCT Women's tour. This article, A Full Body Brushing Workout to Prep you for the Season was originally published on on her blog, Empowered Performance, and is re-published here with permission.