Why You Need To Build Hockey Strength

There is strength and then there is hockey strength.

Let me explain – you can spend your training time making yourself as strong as possible – this means you can squat, deadlift or bench press the lights out – you are then man (or woman) in your gym.

But does that give you the most bang for your buck on the ice?

Indulge me as I use an extreme example to illustrate my point.

Picture Bill Kazmaier

If you cannot see the video above, click here

…I met him once and his biceps were literally the size of my thighs. His forearms were so big they looked like they would burst! He rolled up a frying pan with one hand – – literally rolled the pan part up like a pig-in-the-blanket.

Anyway, Bill is STRONG…do you want him on your hockey team? Do you want him as your goalie, D-partner or as a line-mate?

Probably not (sorry Bill).

You want the right amount of Bill and lots of Sidney.

Here’s where you might get confused (and a little offended)… most of you are weak. Most of you need more Bill to start with.

You want to be doing the single leg hurdle hops, box hop ups and med ball slams – – but you lack the foundation of strength. You really need to be in the gym hitting the squat rack, doing your split squats, incline DB bench press and chin ups.

You will follow your periodized training program (if you don’t know what that is then you better read this article on off-season hockey training), building that strong foundation of mobility and stability first and then you will get to your max strength phase. This is when you need to make hay – add weight, lower your reps and move some serious mass – – but never lose sight of your end goal.

Your End Goal

Your end goal is being strong on the puck, being agile, first step quickness and the ability to turn on a dime. So once you have invested in building up your inner Bill – you need to transfer that your inner Sidney (yes, even if you are a goalie).

Sidney is strong – look at his legs, his torso, his arms – he is a strong boy. But what separates him from Bill is the way he can use his strength to bust up the middle, split the D and drive to the net. He can battle for the puck in the corner and explode to the front of the net in 3 quick strides. He has hockey strength.

Let’s say you can squat 225lbs (like a good solid squat – not a crappy ¼ squat with 400lbs on your back). That is great for building your strength – it is not through the roof, but a good start.

Will you ever be moving 225lbs of mass in a vertical plane when you are on the ice? Maybe if Adam Pardy jumped on your back – – but that probably doesn’t happen too often. So let’s just say the answer is “No”.

You will be moving less mass, but with a higher rate of force development – so actually exerting more force (remember FORCE = Mass x Acceleration).

So here is the main point… get strong. But then don’t be afraid to lighten your loads a bit and focus on moving that submaximal load very, very quickly, the way you use it on the ice, the way that builds your hockey strength.

So here are a few examples…

  • Instead of doing squat jumps with 30lbs DBs which only slows your movement down, try this contrast training method that we use at RevCon all the time. Hold 10-15lbs DBs and do three squat jumps, then set the DBs out of the way (where there is no risk at all that you will land on them) and do three more jumps with just your bodyweight.
  • Instead of doing heavy, heavy bench press with a slow speed on the bar do standing cable press at a lighter weight and accelerate through the movement. This will force you to stabilize with your legs and torso as you exert a force with your upper body – think of knocking that guy who is 15lbs heavier than you off the puck. Do 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.
  • More examples HERE

Happy training!

PS – what did you think of that Montreal v Ottawa game last night? – I only got to see the first half (8:30pm is my bedtime you know) – but it looks like it will be a battle!