Part 1/5. Weighted Sled Exercises
The Weighted Sled sounds like a winter exercise, but you are probably more accustomed to seeing it associated with football practice than hockey. Of course, there is the HockeySled training device for using with your hockey stick, to create some explosive power and prevent injury.
Regardless of the weighted sled you use, it’s a great way to build up strength in your lower body.
- Hip hinge area, which is important to your hockey position
- Anaerobic levels
A Performance Trainer says pushing the weighted sled makes for a great way to burn visceral body fat.
Visceral fat (which gets its name from viscera, which refers to the internal organs in the abdomen) lives deep within the torso, wrapping itself around your heart, liver, and other major organs. You can be relatively thin and still have too much visceral fat!
If that hasn’t got you excited about pushing a heavy sled over some flat terrain, and gathering some friends and family to get them to join you in building strength and burning visceral fat, you might want to take up a different sport, other than hockey!
Getting a good handle height on your weighted sled is helpful for maximum exercise, meaning you want to have some bend in your legs, and in your hips to engage the muscles in your key areas as identified above. A sprinter’s start position with your hands and body low will give you a great test.
When you are starting with a weighted sled exercise, try it on a dry surface, with a relatively low weight for your body type, and begin with a shuttle run, the distance of about 30 metres each way. That way you can build up some momentum and speed each way, and give yourself an adequate challenge.
Try and keep your line straight as you are pushing, persevere through your strain, and do your best to rival the thirteen seconds timing from retired Olympian Elvis Stojko.
Seriously though, when using the weighted sled, or doing other exercises in this series, your only competition is yourself, so be sure to make safety a priority whenever you are trying to condition your body for the hockey season. Work out with a partner if you’d like to make it more fun, but don’t over exert yourself and get hurt trying to be a hero!
Check out JF from HockeyShot, and our friend Jeremy from HowToHockey and The Hockey Movement as they go through weighted sled exercises to see how it’s done!
There’s nothing more fun than throwing the ball around during the off season. Unless it’s a medicine ball, in which case, I can think of a few things which are more fun.
Part 2/5. Weighted ball exercises
Fun or not, you can build up great core strength using a medicine ball, a wall, and the ground. Unlike Jeremy from HowToHockey, you probably don’t want to exercise by a window, or your Mom’s rosebushes, just in case you slip up once or twice.
Get Your Bounce On
Take the medicine ball in your hands, and hold it at chest level. Stand in front of a solid concrete wall, with some asphalt, concrete or another hard surface under your feet. Medicine balls don’t bounce well off of grass.
First stand with a sideways stance to the wall. Pivot your body towards the wall, with your core engaged. Bounce the ball off the wall and catch it. Then, pivot so your other side is to the wall, and repeat the process. Then, give a power bounce off the ground, catching the ball about head height.
Try a Pyramid Scheme
Do a number of repetitions on each side before alternating. Either pyramid your reps from one to five going up before you pivot side to side, or pyramid from five to one going down as you make a power bounce off the ground. Keeping some variety in your exercise will keep things interesting.
Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise, and your glutes. This will help exercise these muscles during your sessions, which you can do once a day. Build up reps as you get stronger and more confident.
Part 3/5. Plyometric exercises
Plyometric exercises use explosive movements to develop muscular power, and the ability to generate a large amount of force quickly – Wikipedia
Hockey is a sport which requires a large amount of force quickly, either when you are skating down the ice on a breakaway, or digging for the puck in the corners.
Sometimes, plyometric exercises are called “jump training”. You’ll find it’s challenging, but fun to do jump training than with some Speed Hurdles, or maybe an Agility Hurdle Plyometrics set to get you motivated. Set up the hurdles strategically so there is enough space for an explosive take-off, and a soft landing before you jump again over the next hurdle.
I’ll admit, writing about jumping over hurdles doesn’t really do it justice, so you’ll really want to watch the companion video to this post you’ll see The Performance Trainer put Jeremy Rupke from The Hockey Movement through a series of jumping sets, encouraging him to go faster, and lighter on his feet each time.
When you do get through the video, order your hurdles, and prepare to start hopping over hurdles to build your explosive strength and agility, keep these three tips in mind.
- When you launch yourself into the air, over the hurdle, do it in such a way that just takes you over the hurdle, and enables you to have a quick landing before springing off into your next jump.
- Try to spend very little time on the ground between hops, just like a frog, making multiple, fast leaps away from your lawnmower on a sunny day. Speed and timing are everything. (Sorry Kermit, potentially scary mental image there for you).
- If you have the gear for it, try mixing in the Agility hurdles with the Speed Hurdles, just to keep things interesting, and to challenge both your mind and your body. Stay light on your feet!
You won’t have the benefit of having a Performance Trainer to motivate and encourage you as you leap through the course of hurdles. If possible, have a friend with you to go through the exercises with you, so you can critique each other, make sure you are jumping well, and landing light before going for the next hurdle.
When you start feeling like a grasshopper, you can move on to Part Four of the Essential Exercises to Develop Explosive Power series, which will train you how to do Isometric deep squats.
Have fun and be safe!
Agility / Speed Step Hurdles
The Agility / Speed Step Hurdles are great training tools to improve your foot speed, knee lift and your explosion off the ice. With the various height options and portability of these agility hurdles, you can develop multiple configurations.
Agility Hurdle Plyometrics Set of 2
The Agility Hurdle Plyometrics - Set of 2 are a portable training tool designed to improve explosive jumping power and knee lift during plyometric training. Easy adjustable to heights upwards to 40’, these plyometric hurdles will develop your overall strength.
Part 4/5. Isometric Deep Squats
Isometric exercises are those which exercise a set of muscles equally, as opposed to having a “Prime Mover” muscle doing the main exertion, and an “Antagonist Muscle” which contracts during exercises, like lifting dumbbells.
Isometric deep squats are a lot like sitting down to a big plate of chicken wings and watching the game. Without a few of the key elements, like the chicken wings. Or the table. Or, your couch.
You can have the game on though, that’s a bonus, right?
In any case, you want to set yourself up in the following pose:
- Place your feet on the floor, about shoulder width apart, pointing straight ahead and parallel.
- Squat down as if you were about to sit down, but don’t have a chair there to support your butt. Or, as they say in exercise blogs, your glutes. Imagine you have a plate of saucy chicken wings on your lap, and you don’t want them to slide off and make a mess on the carpet.
- Hold your hands in front of you, either as if you are praying, because you might need help holding this exercise for the sixty to one-hundred and twenty seconds which makes a respectable set of this exercise. Engage your core.
- Hold this position for as long as you can. You might want to start out these exercises with a pillow beneath you the first few times, but imagine it is hot flaming coals, just for motivation not to fall back.
- When you are exhausted, stand up and challenge a friend to beat your time. Try to increase your time with each time you do this exercise.
These squats help to build up your leg and hip muscles, which are key for explosive skating strength and speed. You’ll benefit from the exercise in the long run, and when you get really good, you might be able to get into movies for free, and feel more comfortable using public restrooms.
The biggest benefit, of course, you’ll be able to skate with power after pucks to prevent icing calls, or when you are trying to catch an opposing player on a breakaway. Those isometric deep squats will keep you toned, balanced, and ready to accelerate fast on the ice when you need to.
Part 5/5. Bench Exercises
The Single Legged Squat
If you have made it through the Performance Trainer’s other four “Essential Exercises to Develop Explosive Power”, you may want to leave this one for a few hours to rest your aching muscles. If you are still raring to go, by all means, the Single Legged Squat is a challenging, but effective exercise for your calves and hip muscles. The ones you use so often for hockey. Ready? Let’s go!
You will want to have a lower bench behind you for something to push off on. If you have powered through the first four videos in this series, you’ll likely want something with a bit of cushion.
The Dumb Bells
I’m not making fun of your friends here, you’ll seriously want a couple of 10 or 15 pound dumbbell hand weights. To improve your stick work, you’ll want to have a set of weights to work out your shoulders with.
Starting from a standing position, switching to a unilateral leg squat, ease yourself down into the bench, ottoman, or low, sturdy chair. As you descend, practice your multitasking skills, lifting the 10s or 15s straight out in front of you, up to about shoulder height. Remember, you want to try and lower yourself down on just one leg.
Your arms should raise to shoulder height just as your cheeks caress the bench. You likely won’t want to eat a serving of brown beans before trying this exercise, for reasons you are about to discover.
The Explosive Rising Motion
With your powerful hip muscles on your dominant side (and a little help from the tendons in the other side) explode up off the bench (explosive muscle motion, not that kind of explode), while lowering your arms in a controlled motion to your side.
Do multiple reps on each side, and try and do as many as you can. Try using only one leg with your reps, but if you have to gain your balance with two on occasion, tell your friends you were only using one leg when you see them next time.
Always start from a standing position, lower yourself carefully, and make sure your bench or seat is on a surface where it won’t slide out from behind you and have you falling back to the ground. Safety first!
One great thing about the Performance Trainer's Essential exercises is that they use fairly simple equipment, and for the most part, use your body as a major strength building factor. Combining these strength building exercises with practicing your other skills will raise the bar on your game extremely high, including:
- Shooting accuracy and power
- Defensive and offensive manoeuvers
Raise your game in the off season, both physically and mentally. Your hard work and dedication will pay off during the regular season and the playoffs!