Bench Press, Bench Press, Bench Press, ???
Dr. Clint Steele, D.C., CSCS
President and founder, Better Hockey and Top Dog Athlete
www.betterhockey.com
www.topdogathlete.com

Get a few male teenagers in a room together for a while and the subject of how much each can bench press is bound to come up. As if the amount that one can bench press says something about your "athletic ability". I cannot tell you though how many players I come across at any level who want to bench and bench and bench. In fact, I come across some coaches, even at the junior level, who are focused more on bench press in the weight room then they are on lower body and core development.

In other sports this may be helpful in determining the athletes ability to play the sport but in the sport of hockey it is way off the mark. Let me explain.

The last time you saw a player mimic a bench press on the ice what happened? If you don't know then let me refresh your memory. Take two hands and place them on your stick about 2 feet apart, now hold the stick across your chest so it is parallel with the ground. Now find a partner to stand about 2 feet away from you, take your stick and push him with it as if you are pushing weight away from your body with both hands on your stick (as if performing a bench press while standing). GREAT job. You should be so proud when the guy with the black and white stripes holds his hand up and blows his whistle and places you in a little box to the side of the ice for 2 minutes. Thank your coach on the way as well as he is the one who wanted you to bench more and more.

That is about the bottom line in hockey, a bench press is very simply a cross check.
I really have a hard time understanding why hockey coaches and players want to develop their upper bodies so much. Please tell me what your upper body strength is good for in this game. Shooting, NO. Shooting power comes from the lower body and core. Skating, NO. Skating power comes from the lower body, glutes and core. Stick handling, NO. Passing, NO. Nice hard passes come from the lower body and up through the core. Checking? To a certain extent but once again any power generated in the upper body has to come from the lower body and the core. Without a strong core or lower body strength you are simply going to be knocked off balance leaving you with a great looking upper body that does not do much for you.

 

 


Don't get me wrong I do believe that a player needs upper body strength but if you don’t have lower body power and good core strength all the strength in the upper body is not going to matter.  BUT if you have great lower body and core strength then upper body strength will help you. So here are my recommendations for upper body strength and the bench press.

*           Focus on your lower body and core more than your upper body strength.
*           When you do work your upper body try to incorporate some core development at the same time. This can be done by performing exercises on a physioball.
*           I also recommend that you perform your upper body exercises with dumbbells instead of a barbell. I like to use dumbbells so as to mimic what is happening on the ice. Rarely are you going to be able to push someone with two hands at the same time. You usually push someone with one hand while one hand is on the stick.
*           Make sure you don’t add too much body weight to your upper body. Keep I mind that your upper body has little to do with hockey speed and power so if you add too much mass in the upper body this will simply add to the weight that your lower body has to move around and it could effect speed and quickness.







 
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