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We caught up with Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Travis Sanheim to get a glimpse into his workout routine on and off the ice and how his community and sport have shaped him into the man he is today.

Tell us about your hockey journey. How did you first become interested in hockey? Who gave you your first pair of skates? 

My first pair of skates came from my parents. Growing up in a small town in Manitoba Canada, there’s not much else going on in the winter. By default, hockey is really kind of just what you do. I was around 3 or 4 years old when I had my first experience with skating and it was right away that I feel in love with it.

What does a typical day of training look like? In season compared to off season?

In season is pretty low key. It looks like a lot of recovery and light body resistance work. Offseason involves more strength building as opposed to maintaining (in season), with a lot of speed, agility and working on quickness.

What’s your training philosophy when it comes to hockey?

I’ve never really thought about a training philosophy–it’s more that starting from a young age, I’ve always worked to be the best player that I can be. For me it’s never a negative or the thought that I “have to train” but it’s more something that I look forward to for many reasons. It’s an opportunity to become better through working hard towards achieving the goals that I set for myself. If I had to note a key point in my training though, I’d mention nutrition. Nutrition is super important for me. I really do think of it as ‘what you put in is what you get out.’

We know community plays a big role in your life. Can you tell us how your community back home and in Philadelphia has shaped you? 

Back home my family has a grain farm that we all work on during the offseason. I help during harvest and drive the combine. I think having that experience has and continues to teach me the value of hardwork and seeing that pay off. My town, Elkhorn, has less than 1,000 people in it so you learn really quick that community and supporting each other is just the way it’s supposed to be done. I love going back in the summer and enjoying the small town lifestyle. Philly, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the spectrum! It’s an amazing city with unbelievably passionate fans. I think it forces you to grow up really quickly and take both ownership and pride in how you play on the ice because you want to be successful for the team, the fans and the city.  

Favorite type of workout music? 

Oh I’m all over the map here! On more relaxing days it’s country. If I’m getting hyped up before games or a good workout in summer, it’s HipHop or Dance Techno.

Favorite way to recover post workout?

My favorite combination is rolling out and then hitting the hot tub followed by the cold tub. 

Favorite pre-game and post-game snack?

Pregame meal is oatmeal with fruit. Post game I try to get a really good meal. My stomach is pretty much empty when I play because I’ll eat a pregame meal before a nap then head to the rink. Post game is all about getting filled up with something healthy but filling.

Who is/was your hockey inspiration?

I’d say my parents are really my biggest overall inspiration, but as for someone I looked up to in  the hockey world, honestly it’s just the players that make up the NHL. That’s all I ever wanted to achieve, so watching games and players is what was most inspirational to me.

Best part about being a hockey player: 

Hand down being the teammates. I also love spending time at the rink, working out, etc. Honestly, everything and anything hockey is fun for me.

How do you think sport, hockey specifically, shapes a man?

I think it makes you more of a well rounded person. Working towards common goals with teammates, learning to use your strengths and weaknesses alongside the strengths and weaknesses of 20 other guys–that all shapes you. Sports also helps you to set and achieve goals, whether it’s intentional goal setting or not. All athletes want to be better at their sport and with that mindset, you’re going to work hard towards your goals everyday.

For me, hockey has really shown me that hard work can pay off, but with that, there’s always another challenge or mountain to climb. Overall, it’s made me take ownership over my life, what I want out of it and how I plan to get it.

The Workout: Compiling Exercises

It's not always high-tech gadgets or fancy movements. Sometimes (and often times), it's repetitive, basic movements that get a player stronger. Here's just a glimpse of what a workout might look like for Travis.

Upper Body Pushups

These are an easy way to get the blood flowing and maintain strength without any equipment. If I'm in a hotel room, I'll just throw a towel on the floor and we're good to go.

Normally, I'll start with 1 set of 8-12 repetitions depending on how my body is feeling. From there, I'll build up to about 20 reps over 4 sets. It looks something like this:

1 x 10 reps

2 x 15 reps

3 x 20 reps

4 x 15 reps

Leg Workouts

If we're thinking in terms of minimal equipment or things you can do while traveling (think hotel room), I would focus on more stationary movements. I might do the following sequence while traveling: 

Stationary Lunges 

2 sets of 20 repetitions

10 reps on each leg

Side Lunges

If I'm at home or in a team workout, I'll normally grab a dumbbell. If I'm on the road, I'll work with just bodyweight.

2 sets of 20 repetitions

10 reps on each leg

Stationary Squats 

Again, if I'm on the road, I'll utilize just my bodyweight with my arms extended out in front to assist with form. At home or at a team workout, I'll opt to utilize a dumbbell.

2 sets of 20 repetitions

10 reps on each leg

Stretching & Rolling Out

Stretching your legs and hip flexor muscles are key for hockey players, especially when you consider how much time we spend on the ice. I don’t necessarily have a set routine for recovery work but I make sure to work through each muscle group, holding each stretch for about 20-30 seconds on the stretch for anywhere from 2-3 sets.

Things I’m thinking about focusing on: quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and obliques. Core muscles are extremely important for hockey players as well so it's important to spend time not only strengthening those, but making sure they're being stretched as well. When I consider the upper half of my body, I'm making sure to focus a lot of time on my shoulders. Just like the core and hip flexors, your shoulders take on a lot of strain while playing hockey and just as much focus needs to go into recovery.

Cardio Bike

Cardio in season (outside of time on the ice) is mostly on the bike. I’ll jump on the bike pretty regularly before I skate for practice or games. It looks like a nice easy way to get the legs moving and the blood flowing without too much resistance. I'll spend anywhere between 15-30 minutes on the bike depending on the day and how my body feels.

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