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Dynamic Strength Training for Hockey

Dynamic Hockey Training

Hockey is a dynamic sport where you can be hit from any side at any time, and need to be able to accelerate in almost every direction.  Due to this, a dynamic approach to training is a must for the modern day hockey player. You can’t go to the gym and train a few typical planes of motion and think it is going to translate over to the game.  In this article we will go over some key lower body movements that should translate well for hockey strength and acceleration. There is only one thing that remains constant in almost all your hockey training – you must be explosive!

The Movement – The Squat

Now I know I am not going to blow your mind by bringing the squat up, but bare with me.  The traditional squat is amazing for overall body strength and conditioning, but to add some dynamic strengthening in first think of how a hockey player skates.  You skate in between a half and quarter squat for the majority of the game. Sometimes your feet are parallel, sometimes you are in more of a lunge position. If the key to maximizing performance from your top of the line skates is power transfer, does it make any sense to only do the traditional squat?
Variation 1 – Staggered feet squat – To do this movement, simply stand in a traditional squat stance (Go for roughly hip width feet), and step your right foot back a foot, and left foot forward a foot.  You will end up about halfway into a diagonal lunge position. Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side at a weight that challenges you to get through the final few reps. This will increase your strength and explosiveness in a more hockey specific movement.

Variation 2 – Quarter Squats for Explosiveness – In the past you might see someone doing partial range squats and think they didn’t know what they were doing.  An interesting study undertaken by researchers splitting athletes into three groups, full range squat, half range squat, and quarter range squats:

Their results were very interesting.  Each group had increases in jump height and a decrease in 40 yard dash times.  What was most interesting, is that the quarter rep group had the best gains in jump height and sprinting speed.  There are many reasons this could be, but people theorize that a quarter squat closer resembles the actual movement of jumping and sprinting.

How can you use this?  Use a progressive overload protocol to build up your quarter squat 1 rep max.  There are 7 ways to overload your muscles:

  1. Increasing the weight lifted
  2. Increasing the number of reps per set
  3. Increasing the number of sets
  4. Shortening the rest time between sets
  5. Increasing the difficulty of the exercise
  6. Expanding the range of motion
  7. Increasing the frequency of training

Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps and try to increase either your weight lifted maintaining the same sets and reps, or gradually increase the number of sets (increase the weight if you hit 5 full sets).

Variation 3 –  The trap bar deadlift – I know what you are thinking, I said squats not deadlifts!  The Trap Bar deadlift falls in between both exercises. It is a pulling exercise like the deadlift, but in a stance similar to a squat.  It also has lower injury numbers due to the nature of the exercise and how there is less of an emphasis on the back. Now how are we going to modify this to make it better for explosiveness?  Before adding any weight, wrap a relatively light band around the plate bars. Add the weight (remember shoot for 8-10 challenging reps) and step on the band, grabbing the bar. Complete three sets of your 8-10 challenging reps, working to gradually increase the weight while lifting as explosively as possible.  This will train you to have maximum explosiveness near the bottom of the lift, which will translate into increased acceleration on the ice!

Conclusion – These are only a few of hundreds of exercises and movements that can benefit you on the ice. Not only will they help your skating and acceleration, they will increase your hockey stick flex and shot power. These will not only help your skating and acceleration, but will also increase Remember when undertaking any weightlifting program to focus on form and movement before adding weight.  You won’t get any faster if you are rehabbing an injury, so injury prevention before strength gains is key.  Other than that enjoy the program and happy lifting!