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Kettlebells For Hockey

Nov 02, 2013

It's a known fact that 80% of Canadians are born knowing how to skate and puck handle, whereas in the entire history of the universe not one person from Scotland ever has. Ever. The point being I am really not qualified to give any advice to anyone on how to improve their hockey game. However, since my once lazy girlfriend just did 4 strict pull-ups, I now believe I'm more than qualified to talk about strength and conditioning for just about anything!
When I moved to Canada 6 years ago I started playing hockey and that's where I met most of my friends. They can all skate circles around me and can actually score goals, but very few of them do any strength and conditioning training. So despite my lack of technique and skill I am able to out skate a lot of them. I need to learn how to stop without breaking my toe on the boards and it would help if I could lift the puck but I can get away with a lot because I am strong and powerful.


I have been asked a couple of times to create a training plan for hockey and while I think Olympic lifting could be great, I always recommend kettlebells. Olympic lifting would develop amazing strength and power but 1. I know very little about how to do it and 2. It requires a lot of technique to get it right. Kettlebells, however, are much easier to learn, they make you look cool and I have never met anyone who didn't love working with them (even my Mum uses them). My hockey training plan is easy to follow and the kettlebell swing forms the base of the program. This simple exercise, like hockey, allows you to work at high intensity for short intervals. It also trains the glutes to generate power which is key if you want to beat your opponent to the puck. I also recommend single leg exercises to train stability and coordination of the legs.
Here is a sample program:
I begin every workout with a 10 minute joint mobility routine. If I were to recommend just one thing it'd be doing this routine every day. No exceptions! Each workout in this program will consist of kettlebell swings plus one other exercise. Set a timer to do 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Alternate between the two exercises for 10 rounds, a total of 20 minutes. Workouts should be done on non-consecutive days with three workouts a week.
Day 1
A1. Two handed Kettlebell swing
A2. Lunges
Day 2
A1. Two handed Kettlebell swing
A2. Push ups
Day 3
A1. Two handed Kettlebell swing
A2. Hanging knee raises
So no more excuses, get training! If you are a member of the WHCT (Women's Hockey Club of Toronto) I will give you a free tutorial on how to perform these exercises. And if you are Karen Decker I insist you come to the garage ASAP before those triple A teams destroy you.
How to do a Kettlebell swing
Begin with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart and the bell on the floor about a ft in front of you. With a flat back fold at the hips and bend the knees slightly to reach the bell. Tilt it toward you and then swing it through your legs so that you hands come to your crotch. Thrust you hips forward quickly, straightening your legs as you do so until the bell is in a horizontal position. At this point your shoulders should be relaxed and your abs should be squeezed tight. From here move your arms back to your crotch, and push your hips back for another rep.

The hockey photographs were taken by the amazing Heather Pollock who is not only awesome with a camera but is also the most fun person to play hockey with (sorry Rene).

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