Approved Core Exercises For Hockey Players

Now you know what the Core is and how NOT to train it, let me give you a few exercises to help you develop a strong core for hockey.

TVA + Leg Lift

This will feel very easy – muscularly it is very easy, but to do it properly it will take a lot of brain power. If you try it for the first time and knock off five reps on each side thinking “Nailed it! That was easy.” You are living in la la cuckoo land and I pretty much guarantee that you are not doing it properly. You MUST keep your fingertips on your belly and it must remain squishy on top – watch the video, you will see what I mean.

Do 5 on each side please – go slowly – going fast is easy, going slowly requires skill.


McGill Crunch

This is the only ‘crunch’ RevCon athletes are allowed to do and that is because it is the version that I learned from Dr. Stuart McGill (the spine biomechanist from the article the other day). But again, pay close attention to the instructions in the video, it is a very small movement and your lower back should remain stationary (that is why you put your hand under there).

Do 8 on each side – hold 2s at the top.


Hand Walk Out

This is another one from Dr. McGill that actually activates your rectus abdominus (six pack muscles) MORE than crunches do. Again, about 70% of you will do this exercise wrong and feel that it is too easy for your finely tuned physique. Here is the key – – your torso must stay perfectly level, there cannot be any wiggle from your hips right to your shoulder blades.

If you really want to know if you are doing it perfectly, then get a small bowl of water, fill it to the top. Get in the ready position and have someone place the bowl over the middle of your lower back. Now, do the exercise, you should not spill a drop. THAT is core stabilization. At RevCon we put a 12” foam roll across the lower back and it should stay perfectly still throughout.

If you feel this one in your back at all, it means you are going too far on your walk out. You are not able to maintain a neutral spine position using your abdominals, so your back is falling into extension and creating compression. Not good – decrease your range.

Walk your hands out and back slowly – again, fast is easy, slow requires great stability.
Do 4-6 reps.


Glute Bridge March

Your core is not just your abs, it is 360 degree control, so we use this to help your glutes and back extensors work together to stabilize from the back side. Like the others, this one is very easy to do with poor form and very hard to do with perfect form. Keep your finger tips on your hip bones, they should stay perfectly level throughout the exercise. The tendency is to let the hip on the side you are lifting drop down, i.e. if you are lifting your right leg, the right butt will drop toward the floor.

Concentrate. Brace lightly with the abdominals, squeeze your glutes.
Do 5 on each side, hold for 5s each.


The Good Old Side Plank

I cannot find the source, might have been at a conference, but I remember reading/being told that hockey players who could hold a side plank for 90 seconds had reduced incidence of sports hernia. So we do that.

Not to sound like a broken record or anything, but the technique is key – so many of you do some personalized version of the side plank that it looks nothing like a side plank to me. Here are the key points:
Do not roll your shoulders forward – that is trying to turn your side plank into a front plank
Your body is in a straight line, which means your torso is not bent in a sort of side crunch thing – often see this when athletes reach overhead with their free arm
• The side plank is not a balance exercise, bring your top foot forward so you have a good base
Making faces does not improve your ability to side plank. Practice some mental toughness, go to your happy place and do the work
• If your technique falters because of fatigue, go to your knees and hold proper form; do not contort and strengthen a compensation.

Start at 30s and add 5s per week until you can hold for 90s on each side.


And I think that is a great place to start. Were you expecting something sexier – with med balls and cables and standing on a stability ball? Sorry to disappoint – but this is it or at least this is where it starts. Master these and then we can talk about the sexy stuff – how’s that?


PS – hope your training camps and tryouts are going great!