Improving lower body strength is the foundation for being able to adopt lower skating positions and generate maximal power with each stride.
The Forward Sled March is an effective option for developing lower body strength while also emphasizing:
✅ Single-leg strength
✅ Concentric “push” dominant pattern
✅ Horizontal force production (pushing “back”)
These are all key characteristics of the early acceleration phase of skating (i.e., the first few strides).
When our goal is strength, we’ll generally build up to the heaviest weight the athlete can push while maintaining a “tall” posture and smooth forward progress.
Typically performed for 3-6 sets of ~10-yards (< ~8 seconds).
As I described in a previous post (see “Building a Base”), heavy sled marches are another exercise we may use as a conditioning strategy to emphasize the aerobic development of high threshold motor units (including fast twitch muscle fibers). In this case, we’ll typically start with 2 rounds of 6-8 reps of 6s-8s (~10 yards), starting on the minute, with 2-3 minutes between rounds.
Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.
To your success,
P.S. For comprehensive hockey training programs to improve your speed AND repeat sprint ability, check out: Speed Training for Hockey
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.