Weight Training for Hockey Players

Weight Training
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Lifting weights can help improve your on-
ice performance

By Dr. Chad Moreau
As seen in Hockey Development Magazine

If you play hockey, you know how important strength can be for high-level hockey performance. Hockey is a game where short, explosive bursts of energy make the difference in an offensive charge. Players are on the ice for short shifts, so they do not need to be able to endure long games in the way that soccer players do, but they are expected to be able to go from nearly standing still to skating flat out, at their top speed, in almost no time at all. Because of this aspect of the game, weight training for hockey skating is vital.

The Difference Weight Training Can Make for Hockey Skating

The difference that weight training makes on your body is incredible. It expands your muscles and increases your strength. Strength can then be converted into power, which gives you that explosive burst that you need. If you can teach your body to manage increasing weight loads, you will feel faster when you need to throw your own body into action.

Weight training can impact:
  • Muscle mass
  • Overall strength
  • Adipose tissue
  • Tone
  • Short-term endurance

All of these things come together to give you a body that is athletically conditioned to be on the ice. You will be able to change direction quickly, sprint toward the net, and absorb hits. Weight training can also keep you from getting hurt because your body will be stronger and more durable than it would be otherwise. This means that you can spend more time on the ice, skating and training for the next game.

How to Exercise for Hockey

If you want to exercise in a manner that promotes muscular growth, you should lift weights. Running and biking can be helpful because they burn fat, or adipose tissue, and they reduce your body mass. This makes you faster because you are not carrying around any extra weight. They are also helpful because they give you cardiovascular health and endurance. However, weight training will cause your muscles to grow rapidly. A few exercises that you should use include:

Deadlifts A strength exercise that works several muscle groups, including your back, glutes and legs. It is one of only a handful of exercises that target muscles in the upper and lower body. Performing a deadlift with good form is imperative to reduce the risk of injury, particularly to the lower back.

Squats An ideal addition to your strength-training routine because they work several muscle groups at the same time. This exercise doesn’t require much space or equipment, so it can be done at home. Some people hold dumbbells as they squat to increase the challenge to their muscles.

Lunges A lower-body exercise that works several muscle groups at once. The targeted muscles include the glutes in your hips and butt, along with the hamstrings and quadriceps in your thighs. The calf muscles in your lower legs, your abdominal muscles, and your back muscles act as stabilizers during this exercise.

Hang Cleans The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps. However, this move also hits calf, forearm, glute, hamstring, lower back, shoulder, and trapezius muscles.

Out of all of these, lunges and squats are going to make the biggest difference. They target your thighs and your calves. When those muscles grow, you will notice a distinct difference in the way that you skate.

Weight Training for Hockey Skating Success

The only way to have the most possible success on the ice is to begin weight-training exercises. You must build up your body so that it is ready to skate. Skating itself is helpful, but off-ice exercises are just as important. If you concentrate on a workout program that features weight training for hockey skating, you will be giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

Dr. Chad is a former NHL strength and conditioning coach, with over 18 years experience working with athletes and everyday people who have the athletic mind-set. An avid recreational hockey player, he is recognized as a leader in both the sports chiropractic therapy and fitness training fields.

Note: Before undertaking any exercise routine, it is always advisable to check with your doctor

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  1. I don’t see anything relative to nutrition within this. I’ve seen the positive the effects of moving a high carb high protein diet towards a low carb high fat with medium protein diet, where are fat burns longer than carbohydrates which are like kindling and burn off fast.
    One basic Reference: http://eatingacademy.com/sports-and-nutrition/ketones-carbohydrates-can-co-exist
    Second: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/10/deep-dive-ketosis-navy-seals-extreme-athletes-busy-executives-can-enhance-physical-mental-performance-secret-weapon-ketone-fuel/

    • Thanks for your comment, Frank. Nutrition is certainly an important consideration and will be covered in a separate article.

  2. Completely disagree with some of the exercises chosen. A hockey player, accident to research will only spend 5% of their time doing high intensity skating. 70% of the time is spent doing turns. One of the biggest problems with conventional training habits, cleans, deadlifts and squats (Olympic squat) is that they cause gluteal dominance which impacts dramatically upper body alignment and compresses the hips for other ore important movements which involve hip rotation. Cleans and deadlifts have caused more bio mechanical dysfunction in hockey players than any other exercises and should be eliminated whenever possible. This data has been the result of 10 years of research. Behavioural physiology/mechanics will become mainstream soon enough and sport specific training as a result will change as trainers become more aware of correct hockey mechanics.

    • Point well taken, Ron. If a hockey player chooses to utilize weight training as part of his or her fitness regimen, it should be mentioned that other forms of conditioning must be considered.

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