The term "sport-specific" has been confusing hockey athletes for some time. "Sport-specific" refers to exercises that work muscles needed in a particular sport. And just because you're not strapping on a pair of skates and pads doesn't mean an exercise is not beneficial for hockey.
The Bench Press is a sport-specific exercise for hockey players, because it builds strength for the pushing that occurs in the corners and in front of the net. It's also a great exercise for basketball players when battling for position.
Hockey workouts commonly rely on the Squat and the Deadlift, both of which are great for increasing the lower-body strength and power needed to apply force into the ice and skate faster. However, these movements follow straight lines of force, whereas when skating, you're pushing down diagonally and out to the side. For this, the best hockey-specific exercise is the Squat Lateral. To perform:
- Start in wide stance holding dumbbells in each hand
- Position dumbbells over shoulders, like for a Shoulder Press
- Lower down toward leg, bending only that leg (at this point, it looks like a Side Lunge, except your feet remain in place through the movement
- From bottom position, push back up to start position
When you first perform this exercise, use bodyweight or light dumbbells and do three sets of 10 reps per leg. When you're ready to progress, use heavier dumbbells and try four sets of five reps for each leg. Then move on to holding a barbell with a back or front squat grip.
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