Functional Hockey Isometric Training

Isometrics (producing muscular force without a change in total muscle length…think of pushing against a wall) are probably one of the most effective, and under-utilized forms of training.  Other than wall sits (which is a stupid exercise in my opinion), many hockey players never use isometric training at all.

I love isometrics.  

I think they’re great for:

  1. Building sport-specific work capacity.  
  2. Building strength in a specific range of motion (isometric strength transfers about +/- 10-15 degrees from the joint angle that the exercise is performed.  For example, holding a squat position with a 90 degree bend at the knee and hip would produce increases in muscular strength for knee and hip angles from about 75-105 degrees.) 
  3. Building MENTAL strength and toughness, as nothing slaps you in the face like pushing/pulling as hard as you can against something that won’t move.
  4. Altering the stimulus to your body during a periods of high frequency training or during a deload period.  Fatigue is contraction-type specific, meaning the mechanism of decreases in force production differs depending on whether the contraction is dynamic (concentric and eccentric), or static (isometric).  Because all these contractions are used in ice hockey (and in life for that matter), I think it’s important to improve the body’s capacity to handle these loads.

Last night I came across a great exercise from Cal Dietz, the University of Minnesota Hockey Strength Coach.  While, semantically, I may disagree with calling this a deadlift (which I think requires a greater loading of the posterior chain-e.g. glutes and hamstrings), I still think it’s a phenomenal exercise that all players would benefit from.  You could also perform several variations of this exercise, such as having the bar across the athletes shoulders (set between two sets of pins so that they can get under the bar, resting on the first set of pins, and push up against the second set of pins set a few inches higher).  

Another variation would be to perform a an overhead pressing movement against pins from the same position.  The great thing about this variation is that it’ll necessitate full body force transfer.  If you push harder with your upper body than your lower body, you’ll just sink.  Having said that, there’s no excuse (other than poor core stability and strength) for not being able to match overhead pressing force with leg drive force, even from this position.

Enjoy the video…

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