Pro Hockey Workouts: Training Off the Ice
Swap your skates for sneakers — we’re taking you through NHL athlete Brock Boeser’s off-ice hockey workout to skate stronger, shoot harder, and play smarter.
When nobody’s watching, that’s when the real work happens. “I don't think the NHL guys are given enough credit for how much time and effort they put into their craft to get better,” said Erik Rasmussen, professional hockey trainer and former NHL athlete. Rasmussen has been training hockey players from kids to elite athletes for over 10 years, having worked with Brock Boeser since he was 14. Boeser showed promise from an early age, known for scoring goals — a job he proudly carries to this day in his professional NHL career as a right wing for the Vancouver Canucks.
Growing up in Minnesota, Boeser was in skates by the age of two. In a state that lives for the ice, he was surrounded by examples of what it takes to make it to the top. “[Rasmussen] would let me come in at a young age and work out and skate with these pro hockey players. And I think that did so much for me. It just made such a big difference. And it showed me what I have to do to have success and how hard you have to work.”
There’s a big jump between junior leagues, college, and the NHL — periods of big growth and developing strength through your hockey player workouts. “Training from college versus NHL is a lot different because in college, you really focus on building. You're still maturing in college and focusing on your development,” said Boeser. “Versus NHL, it's about maintaining that strength, and keeping that power, and focusing on keeping your body healthy. As you get older, it's easier to get injured. So a lot of the training now is to make sure you're not only strong, but you stay healthy too.”
This off-ice hockey workout is part of Boeser’s off-season training. It’s a full-body workout for hockey players that translates to better speed, stamina and strength on the ice. “To be strong and play in the NHL takes your whole body to be strong, especially your lower half, your hips down. We're skating tons of miles every day in practice and in games, and it's so important to maintain that strength throughout the year,” said Boeser.
Put effort into these workouts and notice the difference when you’re in the game. In the words of trainer Rasmussen, “it doesn't have to be seven days a week, but when you come in to train, you come in to train. So that when you go to perform, you can perform and do what you want to do.”
A Guide To Hockey Workouts Off the Ice
Here is a breakdown of some exercises to get you ready for the ice rink. The movements focus on both sped up (overspeed) and slowed down (isometric) exercises, a formula that engrains the movements and strength into the targeted muscles.
1. STANDING PUSH-UP: WIDE
Equipment: Squat rack without a bar racked
Focus: Upper body stabilization to be able to pull out of a corner battle.
- Stand in front of a squat rack and grip the side bars slightly lower than shoulder height.
- Slowly bend your elbows to lean your chest forward through the squat rack. You’ll be on the tip of your toes, and keep your back straight, core and glutes engaged.
- Once you’ve reached maximum depth, push away back to the starting position.
2. OVERSPEED FRONT DELT RAISE
Equipment: Weight plate
Focus: Full body stabilization to regain balance on the ice.
- Holding the plate, slightly lift one foot so it is hovering about an inch off the ground.
- Raise the plate to shoulder height, stopping as fast as possible. Have a partner add speed to the plate by adding upward force as you lift. This makes it harder for you to stop the plate at the top, which is the goal of the exercise.
- Switch legs halfway through your reps.
3. EXTREME SLOW SLAP SHOT
Equipment: Hockey stick
Focus: By moving slowly, you’re engaging all the muscles used in powerful shots. This also trains your body for the movement so you can perform it accurately on the ice.
- Hold a hockey stick and very slowly, perform an entire slap shot for 30 seconds.
- Focus on contracting all your muscles, like your core, to build up energy into the shot, and envision the goal the whole way through.
4. REBOUND SCAPULA PULL-UP
Equipment: Pull-up bar
Focus: The explosive movement develops the muscles needed for powerful stick handling and shooting.
- Hanging off a pull-up bar, engage your lats to shrug your shoulders up and hold for 3 seconds before dropping to the beginning position.
- Make this movement explosive, focusing on the power driving from your lats.
5. CALF JUMP TO A LUNGE
Focus: Sprinting with explosive speed on the ice.
- Standing in an open space, take three vertical jumps, each one getting subsequentially higher.
- After your third jump, land in a standing lunge position and hold your balance for a couple seconds. Repeat the jump sequence, switching legs with each lunge.
6. GLUTE HAM PARALLEL
Equipment: Glute ham machine
Focus: Develops strength and stability of the hamstrings, which are needed for stopping quickly.
Progression 1: Overspeed reps
- Get into position on the glute ham machine with your arms crossed over your chest.
- Lower to parallel, then lift up, having a partner push you up to overspeed the rep, making it harder for you to stop at the top.
Progression 2: 45-degree isolation hold
- After the overspeed reps, hold your body at a 45-degree angle.
7. ISO RUSSIAN TWIST
Equipment: Glute Ham Machine
Focus: Core strength to push past defense and take powerful shots.
- Get into position with your chest facing the ceiling. With your hands together but not touching, twist to the right.
- Have a partner hold your arms as you twist to create resistance as you explode back to center.
Set Your Sights on Goal
This strength workout is a great starting ground, and as a coach, Rasmussen encourages considering your goals when developing a routine. “How do you continually challenge yourself to get better?” said Rasmussen. Ask yourself, “Okay, what do I need to do now to continue to have success? Or how do I stay at the same level I'm at?” he said. These questions help you assess your current strengths and your future goals, which will help you determine what to focus on in your training.
And if you set your sights on something, and you might just achieve it. “I've heard so many stories of people becoming a pro hockey player where growing up they weren't good, and they kept working hard and enjoying it along the way,” said Boeser. “Even for myself when I was a young age, I didn't think that hockey would be my career growing up. And I truly believe if you put in the work that you can achieve your dreams and goals.”
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