The only two TABOO exercises at RevCon

As you may know, the goalies enrolled in the Turning Pro coaching program are able to come to Revolution Conditioning in London, ON and train for up to 3 days per year with our HockeyStrong training group.

Last week I had two visiting goalies – Nick and Owen.

It is always a treat to meet them face to face, although we already know each other from hours of Skype calls, it is fun to see them in action and great for me to have a chance to fine tune their movements in the gym and see with my own eyes where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

So on Wednesday when we had our upper body day in the gym, Nick’s jaw dropped when he saw the RevCon boys setting up for some Bench Press.

“I’ve never seen THAT in one of my programs!” he said. Like the bench press was totally taboo at RevCon. It isn’t.

The only two TABOO exercises at RevCon are Leg Press and that ridiculous Groin Machine thingy.

Why We Bench Press

Reason #1 –
Some of the guys are heading to Junior, College or Pro camps in a few weeks and many of them will be tested in the bench press as a measure of their upper body strength. Do I think that is a valid test of upper body strength for hockey players? Nope, but I also don’t think it would be helpful for one of our athletes to have a philosophical discussion with the strength coach on the topic of functional upper body strength for hockey.

So, I want them to have some experience with the set-up, the balance of the bar and how to control it, how to use their chest muscles as the prime mover, how to do it without putting excessive strain on the front of their shoulder and basically, how to look like they have done it before.

I am not looking for them to set the team record in bench, but to get an acceptable score so they don’t stand out as lacking.

Reason #2 –
The boys love it.
Their eyes light up when they get to bench.
They surprise themselves with how much they can lift because they have been working on functional strength all summer.

So there you have it – yes, of the 12 different pushing exercises we do during the off-season, one of them does not require stabilization using the hips and torso the way you need your upper body strength on the ice. That is a ratio I can live with.

Here are our key points for bench pressing:

Feet flat on the floor with a neutral back (if bench is too high, then a step can be placed under the feet)
Eyes directly under the bar
• Always double check the weight on the bar that it is symmetrical
• Always safety collars on the ends
• Always a warm-up set
• Always a spotter
• Always in a rack with safety bars
Thumbs wrap around the bar
Neutral wrist position
• Upper arm comes down at approximately 45 degrees to the body
• Lower the bar until it lightly touches the chest (again, mainly for testing purposes and only if there are no shoulder issues)
• Maintain a stable torso, but drive the bar back up explosively (not jerky)

So there is my confession – – forgive me friends, I have benched.


PS – We also sneak in some biceps curls from time to time 🙂