Do I think bodyweight exercises is all a female hockey player needs? I get this question quite often heading into an off season. Players will ask me if focusing on bodyweight exercise will be all they need during the off season to increase their strength for fall camp. My answer to this question is “It depends”. Which I will explain in the rest of this article.
Bodyweight Exercise Training For The Female Hockey Player
I just want to make it clear from the get go that I have nothing against body weight exercise for increasing muscle strength. In fact being able to control ones own bodyweight should be an initial goal for any athlete. Especially those that may have general muscle weakness. Or may be unfamiliar with strength and conditioning methods. It can put you at a huge advantage if you are able to possess the core stability, proper proprioception, and joint stability gained from bodyweight exercise and transfer those to your sport.
Another great point in favour of bodyweight exercises is that there is no need for any equipment. This brings the cost of training down to nothing, which you don’t get from training with resistance outside of your body. It can also be performed just about anywhere which is another bonus.
So if you are new to resistance training, bodyweight exercise is the perfect place to start. Here is a great article from ExperienceLife.com demonstrating many different bodyweight exercises. I also have a bodyweight program that I have created for all hockey players in general. I’ve put it for sale at a huge discount right now because of all the COVID-19 problems everyone is experiencing. You can check it out here.
Success at any level of female hockey requires a certain level of strength. Not just core strength or lower body strength to aid in skating speed. Full body strength is a requirement of all female hockey players and you can get this through bodyweight exercises. Being able to control ones own body on and off the ice is definitely a positive attribute.
Controlling Bodyweight for Female Hockey Players
Whether you choose exercises that utilize equipment or stick to bodyweight exercises there is no getting around the fact that you initially need to be able to control your own bodyweight in order to improve your athleticism.
I was going to write an article talking about this subject, however I came across a great article from Molly Galbraith who is part of the Girls Gone Strong Crew. So I decided to share it here with everyone. Molly gives a great explanation of the importance of the ability to control ones own bodyweight. She gives six awesome examples of exercises to get any female hockey player started.
So without further ado I’ll let Molly take it away with her article Bodyweight Strength: Six Exercises To Help You Get Strong Without Weights.
Resistance Training Equipment For The Female Hockey Player
Now that I’ve shown some love for bodyweight exercise, lets talk about why you may need more at some point. That is, if you are wanting to be the strongest, fastest and most powerful player on your team or in the league.
The number one reason I would choose resistance exercises is the ease of constantly challenging the muscles. Using barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sleds, sand bags, and resistance bands etc. are the most common methods of adding resistance. Because of the ease at which you are able to challenge your muscle tissue with continuous increases in the amount of resistance being applied, make it extremely beneficial.
There is almost an endless array of ways to progressively overload your muscles as mentioned above. However, number one on the list is obviously keep picking up and putting down heavier weight.
At some point when utilizing just your bodyweight for resistance you will run out of different angles to position your body for continued overload. This will not happen with barbells and dumbbells for example.
Because of this you will be able to push the muscle into strength gains it which it would otherwise not have achieved with bodyweight alone.
Improving your strength and stability on the ice can definitely be accomplished with bodyweight exercise. This is with minimal to no use of equipment. It can be performed almost anywhere. There is also to some degree room to progressively overload the muscles by changing the angles that certain exercises are performed as well as the speed of the repetitions. The holding of certain positions as isometric contractions can also be very beneficial. If you do not have access to equipment or a gym then body weight exercises would definitely be where you want to start.
However if you have learned proper movement patterns, body awareness, and are able to control your own bodyweight and have progressed maximally, I believe you are ready for the next step. This would be progressing to resistance training equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, and kettle bells for example to take over where bodyweight exercise left off.
If you’re looking to improve your strength and have maxed out with bodyweight exercise it’s time to hit the iron for maximal results.
If you happen to be looking for an off ice program that encompasses resistance training, you will definitely want to check out Kevin Neeld’s Ultimate Hockey Transformation. Kevin Neeld is currently the Boston Bruins Head Performance Coach!
If you are more interested in strictly increasing skating speed, Kevin also has a great book Speed Training For Hockey which explains exactly how to improve your skating speed and explosiveness.