Ice hockey players need to work just as hard away from the rink to dominate on the ice. By creating an off-ice exercise routine that incorporates strength, balance and speed, you’ll be able to keep the opposition on the backfoot throughout your entire shift!
Here are our top ten off-ice exercises for ice hockey players to boost fitness.
Strength Training For Ice Hockey Players
Ice hockey players must have incredible strength for unstoppable power and lightning-fast shots.
Contrary to what you might see on Instagram, the only way to improve your strength is by progressively overloading your muscles — that means lifting heavy weights.
Always do a couple of warmup sets, up the weight for a heavy working set of 6-8 reps, then back off with a second working set of 10-12 reps. If you hit the top of the rep range, you know that next time, it’s time to go even heavier.
One of the best movements for ice hockey players that target multiple muscle groups is the deadlift.
This compound movement focuses on your hamstrings and glutes with significant activation in your core, helping you to develop a more powerful skating stride.
Powerful shots out on the ice come from the strength in your upper body, so working your shoulders and upper back is crucial.
Barbell rows are an excellent movement for ice hockey players, as they require you to stabilise your core while rowing, just like you’d need to before taking a shot.
Strong glutes are essential to a powerful skating stride, and there’s no better movement for working the booty than the hip thrust.
Performing chin-ups is a fantastic off-ice exercise as it doesn’t require much equipment and provides excellent strength and conditioning to your upper body.
If you don’t have a chin bar at home or have access to a gym, many local parks now have free fitness equipment, with the chin bar being one of the most common.
Balance Training For Ice Hockey Players
Making sharp turns, adapting to the puck's direction and navigating other players is challenging enough — add ice to the mix, and it’s easy to see why ice hockey players need excellent balance to stay on their feet.
Your core is crucial to your overall balance, so ice hockey players should focus some off-ice exercise time on working their core strength.
Okay, we know that planks are a bit of a basic exercise; but they’re such a good movement for working your core and developing your overall posture muscles.
What’s best about planking as an off-ice exercise is that you can do them anywhere — no equipment required. Put a podcast on and get planking; you’ll be done in no time.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Unilateral (working one side) exercises like the single-leg Romanian deadlift are great movements for improving your balance and coordination — both vital for successful ice hockey players.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can introduce a kettlebell or dumbbell to start progressively overloading your muscles with this movement too!
It’s no surprise that yoga continues to become increasingly popular with athletes from all sports — the benefits of flexibility, mobility, and balance are well-researched and widely known.
For ice hockey players, this means more fluid, explosive movement and better agility out on the ice. Here’s a 30-minute yoga session that you can follow along to get started.
Speed Training For Ice Hockey Players
For athletes performing on solid ground, your speed comes down to your stride length. For ice hockey players, it’s more about the stride output, as your speed comes from pushing off on a frictionless surface.
Agile ice hockey players have three distinct strengths in speed: explosiveness, acceleration, and top speed. To develop these strengths, you’ll need to be conditioning your fast-twitch muscle fibres, and these exercises below are a great start.
Interval Sprint Training
Sprint training is fantastic for conditioning your cardiovascular system and training your muscles for faster, more explosive movements that are vital in ice hockey.
Interval sprints work your glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, and core, helping you produce more force out on the ice for faster strides.
If the thought of burpees in your off-ice workout makes you groan, then you already know how effective these are for building strength and explosivity in as many muscles as possible.
Do burpees at controlled, 45-second intervals and go full force with an entire range of movement before your 15-second rest to get the very best from the exercise.
Fast footwork and explosive movements are vital to your speed and acceleration on the ice. There are so many speed drills you can choose from that you can always mix it up to keep it interesting too.
You should be drilling speed every time you train to condition your cardiovascular system and muscle fibres for that all-important explosivity. Here’s a quick breakdown of 27 drills you can add to your routine!
Rest & Recovery
Ice hockey players need to put in the work on their off-ice exercise routine to stay competitive; however, rest and recovery are just as important. Make sure you take 2-3 days rest each week and don’t push an injury that could leave you on the bench for weeks or even months.
Now your body is in top condition; it’s time to bring your gear up to speed. Get fantastic deals on all the ice hockey equipment from Willies to elevate your game out on the ice.