Category: Training

It’s the end of the season, you didn’t win the Stanley Cup and you want to get ready for the upcoming 82 game season. While you may not play on a professional level, this doesn’t mean you can follow the same strength training routine that NHL players follow to compete in the fastest game on earth.


Tips for Strength Training for Ice Hockey

Your legs are a major part of your experience as a hockey player. For all of the movements you’ll make on the ice, you’ll be using your legs and core for the vast majority of the speed you bring to the ice.

A sample leg workout would be something like this:

As a hockey player, you probably won’t spend 20 out of 60 minutes on the ice unless you’re a top defenseman. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to build up your stamina. You will be focusing on 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps for most exercise versus trying to go the “higher weight, lesser rep” route that strength training requires.

Upper Body Training

You don’t shoot the puck like Zdeno Chara by neglecting your upper body. You need to also work on your upper body to be able to maintain puck control in the corners, shoot harder and even brace for a body check.

A few of the upper body exercises you should be doing include:

These are just some of the exercises you’ll want to focus on while in the gym. But the best-of-the-best athletes know that there is a lot more they should be doing to gain that competitive edge on the competition.

A few of the more advanced training methods that some of the world’s elite hockey players are doing, include:

  • Sled Drag – a very intense workout that will work the quads, butt, hamstrings, abs and lower back. This exercise can also be done laterally to work the knees and hips. You can even do cross over drags to make the workout more intense.
  • Sled Push – another very intense workout. The sled push allows you to build power in your calves, hamstrings and quads. You’ll also be working your hip flexors and muscles that would otherwise go unused via isolation workouts.
  • Running Springs – a great way to boost acceleration on the ice. Running sprints can boost stamina and speed.

There are also other exercises you’ll want to incorporate to help with your explosiveness as a hockey player. A few exercises to consider are:

If you ever watch hockey, you’ll notice that when a player is coming back from an injury, they’re always on the exercise bike. It happens with each and every hockey player from the best-of-the-best to the 4th liner that sees just a few minutes of ice time a game. Don’t discredit the valuable exercise bike in your gym or any cardiovascular equipment that will extend your performance on the ice.

You need to train hard to be the best hockey player you can be. Many people believe that they need to be able to perform at their highest level for 60 minutes a game, but this is absolutely wrong.


And while you may read that shifts can last up to 80 seconds, this is not ideal. Most coaches, in an ideal world, want their player’s shifts to last just 45 seconds. The 2016 hockey season has some interesting data that correlates with these figures:

  • Erik Karlsson averages 64.8 seconds a shift
  • Brent Burns averages 56.4 seconds a shift
  • Derek Grant averages 34.8 seconds a shift

What does this data show you? The highest average shift goes to Erik Karlsson, a defender for Ottawa. The shortest shifts are taken by Derek Grant, a Flames player. The average shift among all players is 44 seconds.

All of this data concludes that you need to be able to offer bursts of energy on the rink. With 4 lines rotating (evenly in the ideal world), you’ll have 132 seconds off the ice before your next shift begins, or roughly 2 minutes. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to account for stoppage of play and situations that may be more demanding, such as a penalty kill when the best defense players will have their shifts extended.

If you want to train to be a better player, you’ll want to look at two things: aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

Muscle Strength

Muscle strength is important to today’s athletes, but they’re training for functional and burst movements rather than definition. Hypertrophy training is ideal for most hockey players. A good example of this would be:

  • Weight loads of 70 – 85% of the person’s one rep maximum
  • 3 – 6 sets per exercise
  • Moderate to heavy loads
  • Reps of 6 – 12, depending on the weight

Hockey players will also want to focus on different muscle groups than other sport athletes:

  • Forearm stretch is worked on to boost shot power
  • Chest is worked on
  • Legs and back are worked on
  • Hip muscles are exercised

You’ll also see many hockey players doing pulls to gain functional strength or doing lateral box jumps. Core exercises should also be an integral part of your routine. Keep in mind you’re trying to gain functional strength and not bulk.

Aerobic Endurance

Aerobics builds stamina, and skating sprints are a great way to boost endurance. You’ll find many NHL players riding exercise bikes because it’s a great workout. You need to incorporate aerobic training.

Jaromir Jagr has just surpassed Gordie Howe on the all-time points list, leaving him just behind Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky. The 44-year old wonder still outperforms most players today – even at his age – and a report of him running through Dallas (a former team) at night surfaced. Jagr wears a weight vest and runs nightly to boost his stamina. It is also rumored that he performs over 1,000 squats per day – but he has probably toned that down somewhat.

Zdeno Chara, the 7-foot defenseman puts in 6 – 7 hours of training that works on:

  • Weight training
  • Cardio
  • Agility
  • Speed skating
  • Hockey techniques

If you want to train to be the best player possible, you need to be dedicated and train a lot. A few out-of-the-box ideas for enhanced training are:

  • High box jumps
  • Squats and heel raises
  • Hurdles
  • Medicine ball training while on a balance board (a Sidney Crosby favorite)
  • Jump rope
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Deadlifts

The goal: train hard and for explosive movements.