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One of my favourite exercises to use with the hockey players we train is the deadlift. We do all sorts of variations of this lift as well. We’ll do them with a wide snatch grip or regular grip. We’ll do with a straight leg or with more knee flexion. We’ll do them on two legs and on one. We’ll pull from the floor, from the rack and sometimes do deficit deadlifts.

So yeah I guess you could say I’m a big fan of deadlifts. But why the love affair with this exercise? For a number of reasons including the following:

1.  They are ground-based. I prefer exercises where the hockey player performs the lift from a standing position. I believe they develop better balance and recruit their core more effectively when they have to maintain proper posture while under load.

2.  They are able to train the hamstrings with hip extension. At the completion of a pull the knee and hip are extended. So while the hamstring is on stretch the glutes are able to fire and drive the hip forward into extension. Compare this to the common hamstring curl machine done face down and there is often a higher point in the middle of the bench. Initially this design was probably to take strain off the low back. But what it does is keep the hip in flexion while trying to contract the hamstring. This creates dysfunction in the body and doesn’t translate well to normal human movement.

3. They serve as a good foundation for teaching the Olympic lifts. It seems like everyone wants to go straight for the glory. Whether it be plyometrics, Olympics lifts or some other power exercise we seem to gloss over the requisite strength work and go straight to attempting the power movements. When a hockey player spends some time learning the technique for a deadlift they are in a better position to transfer the hip-hinge  mechanics to Olympic lifting.

4.  The work so much with one lift. Is the deadlift a hamstring exercise? Or is it a glute exercise? What about the lower and upper back? The answer is all of the above. When you want to be judicious with your training time the choice of exercise becomes that much more important. It makes sense therefore to include the deadlift due to all the joints and muscles you can with one lift.

5. It works your grip strength. You ever notice that people with incredibly strong hands are usually pretty strong overall? But you can easily find people who ‘look strong’ but have weak hands and a weak grip. Which one do you think will tougher to play against? Which one will have a stronger, quicker shot? Which one is probably developing their grip strength when training?

6.  It has a simple set up. You don’t need anything other than a bar, some iron and collars. This is probably the simplest set up for all the lifts you could do in the gym. You have to love them just for this fact alone.

Well there you go. Six good reasons to incorporate the deadlift into your hockey training. If you’re not already using this lift to become a better hockey player what are you waiting for?


3 Responses to “Six Reasons Deadlifts Should Be a Part of Your Hockey Training”

  • Hey.
    Have train hockey players from all levels (lower divisions to elite hockey players) during the last 30-40 years.
    Never use the deadlift. Teach the power clean and power snatch and explosive moves (snatch pull and clean and jerk pull).
    Technology and explosive speed needs hockey players, not train powerlifting exercises.
    FORMER national coach olympic weightlifting for 25 years and team sports at the highest level in at least 35 years old.
    Inge Johansson

  • Hello Again!
    Core Exercises for hockey players are:
    Power clean, power snatch, deep knee bends, romania deadlift, pull snatch and clean, Chins with grip on towels, Glute Ham Raises, press on incline bench, L-shaped and split up, Hip – lifts, jumps, etc.
    Inge Johansson

    • admin says:

      Hi Inge: I would agree with most of the what you’ve listed regarding exercises to develop hockey players. And I can now see you do included Romanian deadlifts in your programs. I’m working on another post regarding deadlifts.

      Stay tuned,


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