I get this question quite often heading into an off season. Players will ask me if focusing on bodyweight exercise will be all they need during the off season to increase their strength for fall camp. My answer to this question is “It depends” which I will explain in the rest of this article.
Bodyweight Exercise Training
I just want to make it clear from the get go that I have nothing against body weight exercise for increasing muscle strength. In fact being able to control ones own bodyweight should be an initial goal for any athlete. Especially those that may have general muscle weakness and may be unfamiliar with strength and conditioning methods. It can put you at a huge advantage if you are able to possess the core stability, proper proprioception, and joint stability gained from bodyweight exercise and transfer those to your sport.
Another great point in favour of bodyweight exercises is that there is no need for any equipment. This brings the cost of training down to nothing, which you don’t get from training with resistance outside of your body. It can also be performed just about anywhere which is another bonus.
So if you are new to resistance training, bodyweight exercise is the perfect place to start. Here is a great article from ExperienceLife.com demonstrating many different bodyweight exercises.
Resistance Training Equipment
Now that I’ve shown some love for bodyweight exercise, lets talk about why you may need more at some point if you are wanting to be the strongest, fastest and most powerful player on your team or in the league.
In my opinion the number one reason I would choose resistance exercises which utilize barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sleds, sand bags, and resistance bands etc. is because of the ease at which you are able to challenge your muscle tissue with continuous increases in the amount of resistance being applied.
There is almost an endless array of ways to progressively overload your muscles with the above mentioned equipment, but number one on the list is obviously keep picking up and putting down heavier weight.
At some point when utilizing just your bodyweight for resistance you will run out of different angles to position your body for continued overload. This will not happen with barbells and dumbbells for example.
Because of this you will be able to push the muscle into strength gains it which it would otherwise not have achieved with bodyweight alone.
Improving your strength and stability on the ice can definitely be accomplished with bodyweight exercise with minimal to no use of equipment. It can be performed almost anywhere and there is to some degree room to progressively overload the muscles by changing the angles that certain exercises are performed as well as the speed of the repetitions. The holding of certain positions as isometric contractions can also be very beneficial. If you do not have access to equipment or a gym then body weight exercises would definitely be where you want to start.
However if you have learned proper movement patterns, body awareness, and are able to control your own bodyweight and have progressed maximally, I believe you are ready for the next step. This would be progressing to resistance training equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, and kettle bells for example to take over where bodyweight exercise left off. If you’re not sure where to start I have my Hockey Strong Membership that can get you going in the right direction.
If you’re looking to improve your strength and have maxed out with bodyweight exercise it’s time to hit the iron for maximal results.