Hockey players are constantly engaging their lower body – glutes, quadriceps, adductors and hamstrings – since skating is the main component of the sport. While in-game movement and action requires hockey players to use their core muscles and arm muscles for passing and shooting, there’s a reason why professional hockey players have a hard time finding a pair of jeans that fit properly. It’s because they know that the “legs feed the wolf,” as legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks used to say.
So, if you want to look and play like an all-star, you have to train like one. That means putting the work in to strengthen the lower half of your body, as well as your core and arms. We’ll take you through some of the best hockey-specific workouts and exercises around.
PRO-CALIBER WORKOUT FOR EXPLOSIVE LOWER BODY STRENGTH
Trainer Ben Bruno, who works with professional hockey players, shared a hockey-specific workout with Men’s Journal that’s intended to make your legs and core as strong and powerful as possible.
Here’s one of Bruno’s lower body workouts designed for hockey players:
Bruno says to do 4 sets of 5 jumps on a 20-inch box or higher.
TRAP BAR DEADLIFT
Bruno recommends 4 heavy sets of 5 reps, and notes that you can substitute in a traditional deadlift if you don’t have a trap bar.
Bruno says on a wooden surface, get into a plank on your forearms and place two gliding discs or dish towels under your feet. Then, engaging your abs and keeping your forearms in place, slide forward a couple of inches and back for 1 rep. He says to do 4 sets of 12 reps.
Holding a heavy dumbbell at your chest, lower into a squat on one leg, keeping your opposite leg straight out in front of you and going as low as you can while keeping your back flat and chest up, according to Bruno. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Bruno says to get into a side plank for 3 sets of 30-second holds on each side. Start with your forearm down, and to make it more challenging, go up to your hand and raise your top leg.
SLIDING LEG CURL
Lie face-up on a wooden surface with your knees bent and your feet on two gliding discs or dish towels, according to Bruno. Bridge up, engage your glutes and slowly slide your feet out until your legs are straight. Then, return back to the bridge, keeping your hips high throughout. He says to do 4 sets of 12 reps.
HEAVY SLED PUSH
Bruno says to pile as much weight as possible onto a sled or prowler and push it for 20 yards. Then, give yourself a 30 to 60-second break and repeat for a total of 8 pushes.
TOP EXERCISES FOR HOCKEY PLAYERS
Ben Prentiss, owner and head trainer of Prentiss Hockey Performance, says that in his opinion, there’s no such thing as sport-specific training. In a REPS magazine article, “Trainer to the stars Ben Prentiss shares his top fitness tips for getting in shape for a grueling hockey season,” Prentiss says that the differences are much more subtle. Hockey is an anaerobic sport, so you’re working a lot on building power and anaerobic threshold. He says that the typical things that you work on for a hockey player are hips, groin muscles and core strength. Prentiss says that he emphasizes those areas, while still having the hockey players that he works with do big movements like front squats, weightlifting and plyometrics.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT:
When asked what the top exercise for hockey players is, Prentiss says, “Each guy’s training is really specific to their body type, but because hockey is a unilateral sport, I would say the Bulgarian split squat, which they all hate. It’s basically a one-legged squat in which your back leg is elevated. I’d say that’s one of the best for hockey players because it works the adductors, groin, quads, and stretches the hip flexors.”
FLOOR GLUTE HAM RAISE
Prentiss says that the floor glute ham raise is another exercise that’s unbelievable for hockey players. He explains that you lay on your stomach with your ankles anchored, then raise your torso straight up. Then, you lower to a 45-degree angle and hold it for three or four seconds. You do this once, twice or three times, if possible. You can watch this video of a Prentiss Hockey Athlete doing a Floor Glute Ham Raise to check for proper form.