Leg Strength with Minnesota Hockey

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Hockey is a game of starting, stopping and changing directions. Strength is an important factor for performing those movements at a high level, because you need to be able to produce force, and then transfer it to the ice.

You apply that force from your lower body, so I have my athletes perform Back and Front Squats, Single-Leg Isometric Dead Lifts—which make your quads, hamstrings and glutes fire simultaneously, so they work against each other—and Cone Agility Drills. We perform these exercises because the players spend so much time in that bottom position. We do these lower body movements on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then hit upper body on Tuesday and Thursday. Focusing on the upper body the next day allows their legs to recover.

Single-Leg Isometric Dead Lift

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Hockey is a game of starting, stopping and changing directions. Strength is an important factor for performing those movements at a high level, because you need to be able to produce force, and then transfer it to the ice.

You apply that force from your lower body, so I have my athletes perform Back and Front Squats, Single-Leg Isometric Dead Lifts—which make your quads, hamstrings and glutes fire simultaneously, so they work against each other—and Cone Agility Drills. We perform these exercises because the players spend so much time in that bottom position. We do these lower body movements on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then hit upper body on Tuesday and Thursday. Focusing on the upper body the next day allows their legs to recover.

Single-Leg Isometric Dead Lift

  • Place 24-inch plyo box just outside squat rack
  • Set safety bars at low level
  • Place barbell on ground under safety bars
  • Assume split stance over barbell with one foot on top of box
  • Reach down and grab barbell with palms facing inward, just outside shoulder width
  • Raise until barbell hits safety bars; pause for 10 seconds; repeat
  • Perform 3 sets of 8 with full recovery

Benefit: This makes the player strong in that common bottom position he plays in, because it makes his quads, hamstrings and glutes co-contract; the muscles fire while working against each other.

Dietz's Tips
1. Keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out and low back in a flat position.

2. You want the top of your thigh almost parallel with the box.

3. Make sure you try to push your foot through the ground so you produce the necessary force.

Dietz is the strength and conditioning coach to the 2007 WCHA men's hockey champion, the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock