Upper Body Hockey Workout For Strength & Muscle

Upper Body Hockey Workout For Strength & Muscle

Let's cut to the chase:

You're reading this because you're looking to step up your hockey game.

And you figure the best way to do that is to get bigger and stronger.

If packing on muscle helps you score more goals and score Tiffany Tightbottom, the barista who gives you the sparkle eyes whenever you roll up for a post-workout smoothie at the juice bar down the street?

Even better.

But, before I walk you through an upper body hockey workout that packs on the gains, let's clear up some general off-ice training confusion.

Do Hockey Players Need Upper Body Strength?


Despite what your hockey coach or some anonymous nitwit posting nonsense on a message board may have told you, a strong, resilient upper body can only benefit your performance.

While smaller and faster guys have edged out big, lunky players over the last decade or two, hockey is still a brutal contact sport where a lack of physical strength and size hurts your performance.

There's a reason why you won't see Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane, or any other small forward battling it out with 220-pound defenders in goalmouth scrums or along the boards.

They thrive on open ice, with the puck on their stick, where they can create magic thanks to their extraordinary speed, skill, and vision.

But YOU don't have their sublime skillset. Refuse to engage in board battles or shy away from crashing the blue paint for rebounds, and see how long it takes Coach to bench you. 

Expect it to happen faster than you can say "icing".

So you have to find other ways to make yourself valuable to the team.

Every team values a player who constantly wins puck battles, shuts down opponents, and makes smart plays to advance the rush.

While your foundation – your speed, strength, stability – comes from your hips and legs, a strong upper body helps in numerous situations. 

From fighting off checks, to battling in the corners, to owning the space in front of the net, any puck or positional battle requires upper body strength.

Besides, how often do you see a guy with tree trunk legs and a muscular hockey butt, but a paper-thin chest and linguine arms?

Practically never. 

That's because your upper body tends to match the strength and muscularity of your lower body.

If your scrawny chest, arms and shoulders leave your t-shirt sleeves flapping in the wind, there's a good chance your equally underdeveloped quads, glutes and hamstrings won't fill out a pair of skinny jeans, either.

Now that you understand the importance of training your body from the waist up, I'll guide you through a sample upper body hockey workout I use to beef up my athletes.

The Workout

Zooming out to give you the big picture:

This is an upper body session in Phase 3 – our second accumulation (high-volume) phase – of the off-season

For a thorough explanation of accumulation and intensification phases, as well as how to periodize your lifts for continuous progress, read my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey.

Since it's Week 4 of this training phase, volume is at its highest before it's scaled back as intensity (weight on the bar) becomes the priority going into Phase 4.

If you'd prefer to watch a video instead of reading, this clip covers the workout from start to end.

Here's the workout with notes and technique cues:

1) Rotational Med Ball Floor Slam 5x5/ea. 75s. 

Begin the session with an explosive med ball variation.

Stand up tall (all the way up on your tippy toes), then turn your hips as you slam the ball not against, but through the ground.

Your intent is to send it all the way down to China. This ensures maximal velocity and power output.

Alternate sides on each rep for five reps per side (so 10 reps total).

Complete five sets resting 75 seconds between each.

2A) Chin-Up 4x8 5010 90s.

After the explosive med ball slams, continue with a chin-up/push-up superset. 

Pull your chin over the bar, then control the descent for five full seconds (the "5" in the 5010 tempo prescription).

Actively resist gravity by squeezing your biceps and back muscles on the way down.

Use extra weight if body weight reps are a breeze.

Use bands for assistance if body weight is too hard.

After eight reps, take 90 seconds off and continue with...

2B) Parallette Push-Up 4xAMAP 90s. 

Placing your hands on a pair of parallettes increases range of motion.

This leads to huge chest pumps while shaving several reps off of what you can do on regular push-ups with your hands on the floor. 

Do as many good reps as possible (AMAP).

When you're at your freshest in your first set, aim for 15-20 quality reps. As fatigue builds up over sets #2-4, the reps will decrease.

You might get only 10-12 reps in your last set. That's normal.

If you can complete 20+ reps in that first set without breaking a sweat?

Add a plate on your back or throw in a resistance band to increase difficulty.

3A) Double Landmine Press 4x8-12 60s. 

Round up your upper body hockey workout with a push-pull-core tri-set. 

First up, an excellent shoulder movement, the double landmine press.

Brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you press the weights up. Don't let your ribs flare!

Most gyms don't have any way to set up a double landmine station.

If yours is one of them, your options are limited to either DIY Viking presses with two barbells in a power rack, or doing single-arm landmine presses.

Either way, do 8-12 reps, rest 60 seconds, then move on to...

3B) 1 Arm DB Row 4x8 5010 60s. 

A classic back builder, dumbbell rows are one of my favorite horizontal pulling exercises. 

Place your non-working hand on a bench and your feet on the floor.

This gives you more stability than placing a knee on the bench – something most people do without ever questioning whether it makes any sense.

From here, row the dumbbell toward your back pocket (not up to your chest which targets more the upper traps).

Same as with the chin-ups, take one second for the upward phase and lower in five. Your lats should get torched here!

Use straps once you get up to a weight your grip can no longer match.

Complete eight reps, take a 60-second breather, and finish the tri-set with...

3C) Valslide Jackknife 4x8-12 60s.

Using a pair of furniture sliders or a towel under your feet, set up in a push-up position.

From here, bring your feet toward your face. Return to the push-up position, take a few steps forward or backward, then do another rep.

Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes to maintain level hips!

Use a resistance band if regular reps feel too easy.

Complete 8-12 reps before starting over with landmine presses. Go through the tri-set four times. 

And that completes this upper body hockey workout!

For full off-season and in-season programs that pack strength and size on you faster than anything else, check out Next Level Hockey Training 2.0.

It has produced more D1 college and pro hockey players, and World Champions than any other off-ice program available online.

More details about Next Level Hockey Training 2.0 here:


Yunus Barisik

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Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, specializes in making hockey players strong, fast and explosive. He has trained 500+ hockey players at the junior, college and pro levels, including NHL Draft picks and World Champions. An accomplished author, Yunus has had articles published on top fitness and performance sites, including T Nation, STACK and Muscle & Strength. He also wrote Next Level Hockey Training, a comprehensive resource for ice hockey players on building athletic strength, size and power, while staying injury-free.

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