(illustrations) Mark Collins
Speed, strength, and skill. These are three elements of ﬁtness that immediately spring to mind when you talk about playing hockey. If you possess all three in copious quantities, you’ve got a great advantage over your opponents. But it’s a rare thing to hold all of these athletic achievements naturally. You may be lightning on your skates, but perhaps lack the physicality to excel at the competitive level. On the other hand, you may have fast hands but slow legs. This is the reason that almost every NHL player these days constantly incorporates mainly lower-body weight training to play the game at the highest level of competition.
Hockey is unique in that it requires a lot of single-leg activity (as opposed to the two-leg jumping motions required in basketball and football). As a result, many hockey conditioning coaches will employ the strategy of performing certain exercises unilaterally. Here’s a fast workout routine for you to target and strengthen speciﬁc muscle groups essential to improving your performance on the ice.
Since hockey also requires exceptional cardiovascular conditioning, this workout will have you take minimal (30-second) rest periods after each set. Although most weight trainers in this day and age neglect their lower body, here we’re going to emphasize it with three leg moves, plus one upper-body compound move for shoulders and triceps. Within 12 minutes, you’ll have pumped up your wheels and your “push” muscles so much that you’ll be one serious force to be reckoned with on the ice. Perform three sets of each move, then continue to the next one.
BARBELL WALKING LUNGE
Standing upright, grasp a barbell with an overhand grip and plant it securely behind your head. Keep your back straight and your head level. Descend into a lunge with one leg until your working quad is parallel to the floor. Without pause, raise up, and bring your back leg forward into another lunge. Continue this “walking” action.
Attach a moderate-resistance parachute apparatus chain to your waist. Simply begin in a sprinter’s start position with head down and body coiled. When you’re ready, explode forward into a sprint, employing long strides and aggressive arm-swinging action. Don’t leave anything in the tank and sprint as fast as you possibly can.
Sit in the apparatus with your back straight against the seat pad and feet hooked under the roller pads. Using one leg only, extend it fully to the point of lockout and hold for a half-second before lowering it to the start position. Keep all other body parts motionless. Work only one leg for 12 reps, then switch to your other leg.
12 REPS EACH.
DUMBBELL SEATED OVERHEAD PRESS
Grasp a dumbbell in each hand using an overhand grip. Sit on a bench and keep your back straight, head level, and feet on the floor at shoulder width. Bring the dumbbells up to your collarbone with arms flexed at the elbow. Raise the dumbbells overhead. Hold in the top position for a full second and lower back to the start.