Oh what a game! Hockey players are without question some of the best conditioned athletes in competitive sports. Today’s players are not only highly skilled, but highly conditioned. Excellent stamina is 100% necessary. Good muscular strength (legs, chest, back, shoulders, and core) is another must.
All large muscle groups play a vital role during a hockey game. Keep in mind – much like other sports, strength training should never come second place to skill development (skating, stick handling, passing, shooting, agility). The athlete should find a healthy balance between sport specific and off-ice training. The following is a list of the top 6 off-ice exercises for hockey players:
1. Skater Stride – This off-ice, bodyweight exercise mimics a skating motion and develops explosiveness. The skater stride works the leg muscles greatly and develops core energy transfer improving full body coordination. An excellent movement to strengthen the knee joints as well due to shock absorption properties (legs alternate – pushing from the outside and landing in a crossover lunge position). Perform quickly – complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions each leg.
2. Jump Shrug – Is possibly the most aggressive and taxing exercise on the list. It involves holding a pair of dumbbells at your side and performing jump squats with the added element of a shrug in mid air. Excellent for cardiovascular endurance, especially when performed as a station in circuit training. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
3. Push Ups – Are a staple exercise for any athlete. Push ups will strengthen the entire upper body. Depending on fitness level, perform push ups with the legs elevated, with a medicine ball or in handstand position. The basic push up (with or without a weighted vest) will do just fine as well. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
4. Hill Sprint – Are crucial for cardiovascular endurance improvement. These are great when interval training (sprint uphill – then walk/recover down the hill). Hill sprints can simulate a shift in hockey (game play) using 90-100% effort for a brief period. This type of exercise recruits all the major muscle groups and develops superior conditioning. Complete 8-10 hill sprints. Dont forget to put on an adjustable weighted vest to increase level of challenge. They are on sale now!
5. Pistol Squat – This exercise is performed slowly and controlled under high tension. It involves holding one leg parallel to the floor while performing a squat with the other. The pistol squat requires great flexibility, leg and core strength and full body coordination. A less intense variation involves using a bench or plyometric box (single leg step up). It’s a great movement to increase leg strength. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions each leg.
6. Deadlift – Performed with a barbell or stacked kettlebells, this exercise recruits all the major muscles (specifically the legs, gluts, back and core). The deadlift is a staple exercise for building muscle unity and strength. Since hockey players aren’t training to be competitive power lifters, it’s suggested to use a moderate weight and perform a higher volume. The kettlebell two hand swing is an explosive deadlift (excellent for variety). Complete 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Special promotion: Bumper Plates @ Treadmill Factory.