Hockey-Specific Speed:

Stronger Low Back = Faster Acceleration


Hockey is an explosive sport consisting of a few seconds of powerful strides followed by gliding, turning, and quick change of directions. Although top-end speed is an important attribute in sports performance, when it comes to hockey, being able to accelerate on the ice is king. Whether it’s getting a step ahead of your opponent to a loose puck, or breaking out of your defensive zone, your initial strides will determine who gets there first. One of the keys to skating faster is to keep a low skating posture and maintain a lower center of gravity. Lower back strength is key in maintaining this low position and fighting inertia, especially while fatigue.


When strength training for hockey, players tend to favor training their hips and quads, while not paying much emphasis to the strength of the erector spinae muscles. This results in a common structural imbalance in skaters: a weak low back. For most of the game, hockey players are forward on their skates, which fatigues the low back muscles and, consequently, slows them down as the game progresses. In fact, researchers have concluded that as the size of low back muscles increased, sprinting speed improved.


When training hockey players at Peak Health & Performance, we spend every phase of the off-season training the lower back. We use exercises that target different portions of the strength curve, ensuring that our players are completely developed. We’ll do more direct lower back-specific training in the early off-season and progress to more dynamic/explosive movements as the season approaches. We continue this work during the season, performing a lot of pauses and isometric holds in different positions.


Here is an example of off-season lower body programming for 12-weeks:


Phase 1 (4-Weeks)


A1. Seated Good Morning                                          3×10-12           3030                90s

A2. Poliquin Step-Up                                                   3×12-15ea       2010                60s

B1. Reverse Hyperextensions                                     3×8-10             2015                90s

B2. DB Split Squat (Front Foot Flat)                            3×10-12ea       3010                60s

C1. Side Sled Drags                                                     3x20m             1010                60s

C2. Hanging Garhammer Raise                                  3×12-15           2020                60s


Phase 2 (4-Weeks)


A1. Standing Good Morning                                       3×6-8               3010                90s

A2. Cyclist Back Squat                                                 3×6-8               3010                90s

B1. Incline Back Extension                                          3×8-10             2121                90s

B2. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat                             3×6-8ea           3010                90s

C1. Bench Neck Bridges                                              3×30+s             1111                60s

C2. Peterson Backward Sled Drags                             3x20m             1010                90s


Phase 3 (4-Weeks)


A1. Power Snatch                                                        5×3-5               20X0                240s

B1. Front Squat                                                           4×4-6               30X0                120s

B2. Glute/Ham Raise (Top Half Only)                         4×4-6               21X0                120s

  1. Snatch Deadlift off Blocks* 4×3-5 5110                240s


*on the last rep of each call out 3 random 8-second pauses