Eliminate this from your hockey workout and save your back.

This observation is not specific to hockey players, I have seen it in track athletes and even baseball players.  Some athletes seem to get addicted to the LEG PRESS machine.  In fact when I was the Strength Coach to teams at The University of Western Ontario this was my typical experience during Fall testing…despite the fact that even back then I never prescribed leg press during their off-season hockey training program I would always get 3-4 athletes who would ask to do their max testing on a leg press rather than do squats like the rest of the team. 

Turns out these athletes found that their back was feeling tight and fatigued once they started trying to raise the load on their squats.  Their back was getting tired before their legs.  When they sat in that comfy leg press seat and took their core out of the equation they could lift three times more weight without the fatigued feeling in their back.  Sounds logical right? 

If not for the fact that unfortunately your legs are attached to the torso or the core and if not for the fact that the core must be strong enough and smart enough to stabilize the force produced by your legs, this would make perfect sense.  So now we have a real problem.  Now I am looking at an athlete with legs that can create 800lbs of force attached to a torso that can only stabilize about 185lbs.  Can you see where we have created a weak link – can you see where this hockey player just spent the off-season buiding the foundation for a great injury to their back, hip flexors or hamstrings that will probably appear about 6-weeks into the season?

I have not even touched on the fact that as an athlete lower the weight on a leg press machine they also tend to round their back which puts pressure on the lumbar discs!  I am hoping you are convinced.  The leg press has no place in any training program – I cringed the other day when one of my athletes told me that his high school just bought a new leg press and that he could lift every single weight plate in their gym.  I can just imagine what that looked like!

Want strong legs that will help you skate faster, stay on the puck and be more agile?  Or do you want to stand around the leg press and impress your friends with how much you can leg press?  At least that will give you something to talk about when you are injured – “Yeah I know I haven’t played in 5-weeks and you guys barely remember who I am, but remember that time I did 800lbs on the leg press?”.

If you are looking for the stronger, faster, more agile legs then start with front squats and split squats.


Here endeth my rant!