You may not see it under all those pads, but hockey players have extraordinary physiques.
Legs and butt — those are the most notable features of a hockey player’s body. Add a strong upper body with a solid core, and yeah, it’s easy to see why this body is desirable.
But there’s so much more to it than that. Hockey players are some of the toughest athletes, and their bodies are built to withstand brutal punishment day in and day out.
Getting a hockey player’s body is highly achievable with the right training and understanding of how this body works.
So how can you get a body like a hockey player?
Hockey players have powerful lower bodies, so beginners who desire a hockey physique need to master the squat and its main variation. Work your legs and glutes into shape, and do enough upper body and core work to keep your torso functional and strong. Finally, short burst cardio like sprinting can help you keep body fat low and your conditioning high.
David Rosales, a personal trainer, has provided lots of insight for us into what it means to train for a hockey player’s body.
Let’s hit the ice and see what he’s got to say.
What Are the Hallmarks of the “Hockey Player Physique”?
“Hockey is all about the legs,” says David Rosales. “And hockey butt is definitely a noticeable feature.”
There are lots of athletes who have solid legs and glutes, but none hold a candle to that of a pro NHL hockey player.
It takes extreme effort to stay upright and propel yourself on the ice. Your lower body works hard not just to play a great game, but to move gracefully and powerfully in skates.
The upper body isn’t just standing around, either.
Hockey players have fantastic rotational core strength that helps them build speed on the ice and whip off powerful shots.
This leads to an overall muscular build. The constant working of the entire body and the cardio of playing hockey leads to low body fat, too, so the muscles are even more prominent in many players.
As hockey is fantastic cardio, this also leads to conditioning being one of the hallmarks of a hockey player’s body.
Hockey players play a tough game, and the training is sometimes even tougher.
However, their bodies can handle it well.
David Rosales describes hockey as a “lactic anaerobic, repeat sprint sport,” and training for such a sport leads to a body that performs solidly in everyday life as well as intense fitness situations.
A hockey player doesn’t get winded going upstairs or running to catch the bus. This body type is a tough nut to crack under pressure.
5 Training Tips for a Hockey Player Body
You have to build a lot of muscle if you want a true hockey player body, so it’s time to start hitting the gym.
Some of these exercises can be performed in a home gym or fully without equipment, too, so anyone can get started.
David Rosales has plenty of tips for training for a hockey body, so let’s take a look.
1. Train Your Lower Body
As you know, the lower body is critical for hockey players, so you have to start there.
There’s no avoiding big, difficult leg movements like squats, split squats, and lunges — (yes, even if you hate leg day.)
You want to build both power and muscle, so perform these exercises in the 3-8 rep range.
These should be your staple exercises, with squats or one of the main alternatives performed about two times per week, to start.
However, there are plenty of accessory movements you should incorporate for maximum gains in your legs and butt or glutes.
Fantastic exercises for glute strength and growth include:
- Box jumps
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts
- Banded side steps
- Step up reverse lunges
Meanwhile, for your legs, you can do the following:
- Single leg deadlifts
- Plan leg lifts
- Stability ball knee tucks
A mixture of these exercises to keep things interesting is best, but you should always come back around to your core three.
Perform squats, split squats, and lunges on every leg training day.
Twice a week is plenty for heavy, intense leg work. You’ll want plenty of rest days after a tough leg day!
Some of your rest days could be days where you focus only on your upper body, but some should be complete active recovery days where you just do some light walking or stretching.
2. Work On Vertical Upper Body Work
For the hockey physique, you need to work hard on your legs and glutes. But don’t totally neglect your upper body.
However, you’ll want to keep it simple. NHL teams typically train using vertical pushes and pulling movements.
Pull-ups and overhead presses in particular are a great way to build muscle and functional power in your torso and arms.
These are athletic movements that take tons of core strength, coordination, and will give you broad shoulders and a wide back.
If you stall out and hit plateaus, horizontal movements like the bench press or barbell row can help supplement your training.
You don’t need to blast your upper body into oblivion or train for bulging biceps, but building strength on weighted pull-ups and vertical presses in the 3-8 rep range will give you an upper body that perfectly compliments your powerful lower body.
3. Perform Core Stabilization Exercises
Core work is essential.
But while hockey players usually have great abs, it’s more about core stability than looking great on the beach.
Crunches are great for defining your abs and “feeling the burn,” but a wheel rollout teaches you to be strong and stable.
Many fitness beginners find it one of the most difficult exercises to perform, as it requires both strength and stability.
You can perform this exercise at home or at the gym.
Ab wheels are often inexpensive, and they’re small pieces of equipment you can easily keep in a home gym setup, or even in your closet to use in your bedroom.
Other fantastic exercises for core stabilization and strength include planks, L sits, and Russian twists.
Shoot for core and ab moves that are extremely challenging, not just high reps of crunches and flutter kicks.
4. Amp Up Your Cardio With Sprinting
Sprinting gives you killer legs, but it’s also fantastic for building the upper body.
Best of all, it’s cardio, and you need a lot of cardio if you want a hockey player’s body — they need amazing conditioning to be on the ice for that long.
Any kind of sprinting you do helps.
You can sprint on a track, in a field, or on a treadmill.
Starting with very short sprints of 5–10 seconds works best.
You should be sprinting full force with explosive power, and after a few months, you can work up to sprinting for 30 seconds at a time.
Sprinting on the fan bike is also a fantastic idea. Some Division 1 hockey teams use the fan bike as part of their sprinting routine.
Here’s a routine that a division 1 hockey team does for their sprinting cardio:
- Week 1: 5 seconds hard, 25 seconds easy, 8 reps. 2 rounds (rest in between rounds until you feel close to fully recovered)
- Week 2: 5 seconds hard, 25 seconds easy, 8 reps. 2 rounds
- Week 3: 10 seconds hard, 20 seconds easy, 8 reps, 2 rounds
- Week 4: 10 seconds hard, 20 seconds easy, 8 reps, 3 rounds
- Week 5: 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy, 8 reps, 2 rounds
- Week 6: 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy, 8 reps, 3 rounds
This routine leads to developing explosive movements and extreme speed, perfect for a hockey player or someone coveting the physique.
5. Eat Well For Training and Fat Loss
Hockey players have low body fat, so that’s what you’ll want to aim for.
Thankfully, with all of the training, you most likely won’t need to make any drastic changes to your diet.
Eating well for your training is essential. You’re going to be building a lot of muscle, so increase your protein intake.
Protein helps repair the microtears you create in your muscles when you work out.
Adding a protein shake or a protein bar to your diet before your workout will keep you fueled and powerful throughout.
As well as that, you’ll want to make sure you’re not eating too many calories, especially from junk. It won’t help your gains and it’ll keep you from leaning out.
Make sure you’re consuming plenty of lean meat, poultry, and fish, along with healthy carbs, whole grains, and protein-rich foods like eggs.
Limiting liquid calories, alcohol, and processed foods is also a good idea, and it’s especially a good idea if you have a lot of body fat that you want to shed.
People with more body fat to lose should consider tracking their calories and consuming 500 fewer calories than they need in a day. You can find out how many calories you usually need via an online calorie calculator.
If you’re a total beginner, you may even be able to gain muscle WHILE you lose fat — resulting in a rapid transformation.
Developing a body like a hockey player is no easy feat, but it can certainly be done with enough dedication.
Remember to focus on your legs, go hard with cardio, and never neglect your upper body or a protein-rich diet.
Staying committed will have your legs blossoming into tree trunks and your glutes turning to steel.
Whether you’re on ice or land, you’ll definitely be grateful for your training when you have the body you want.
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Hope this helps!