I’m here to tell you about the best exercise for hockey players which offers great all-around benefits. Assuming you’re healthy and without major weaknesses, this is your go-to for maximum training impact.

Without further ado, the top exercise for boosting your hockey game is the Bulgarian Split Squat. Let’s talk about it in more detail.

What is the Bulgarian Split Squat

I’ve made the Bulgarian Split Squat a key lower body exercise for hockey players which is fantastic for targeting those hockey-specific muscles.

Contrary to what some tough trainers might say, constantly doing back squats, front squats, and deadlifts isn’t the only way to make a better hockey player. These exercises are great, and I include them in my programs, but they can put a lot of stress on the spine and require a lot of recovery time.

This can actually interfere with other important training like agility, conditioning, speed, and skill learning.

You don’t need just major compound movements to build strong, functional legs. The Bulgarian Split Squat is great because it doesn’t overload your spine, which means you can do it more often without wearing yourself out for your other training sessions.

Before you think I’m just avoiding hard work, stick with me. I’m confident by the end of this article, we’ll find common ground on this.


An Exercise with No Ceiling

When you’re doing back squats, your lower back can be a limiting factor. For front squats, it’s often the upper back. But with the Bulgarian Split Squat, those limitations are out of the picture.

This exercise allows for a stronger connection between your mind and muscles, specifically targeting your lower body.

Another plus is that since it doesn’t heavily load the spine, recovery is quicker. This means you can do them more often during your general physical preparedness phase, or it leaves you more energy for your speed, agility, and conditioning work during specific physical preparedness phases.

You might think stability is a big issue with this exercise, but it’s not a significant concern for the Bulgarian Split Squat. This makes it a top choice for functional lower body strength training in hockey.

It’s a perfect blend of bilateral and unilateral lower body exercises. You get the advantages of single-leg training, but with added stability from the rear leg, allowing you to handle heavier weights.

The back leg doesn’t lift much weight, but it’s crucial for stability, letting you push your front leg harder.

The potential of this exercise is often underestimated. You can even safely load it with heavy weights, making it a powerful tool in your training arsenal.

What Makes the Exercise Specifically Tailored for Hockey

Most hockey players I train have an overdeveloped vastus lateralis (outer thigh muscle) compared to their vastus medialis (inner knee muscle).

This imbalance is common due to the demands of skating which heavily uses the outer thigh muscle.

Correcting this imbalance is crucial for improving skating speed and agility, as well as reducing knee injury risks. The Bulgarian Split Squat is ideal for this. It not only balances lower body muscle development but also addresses the strength disparity between legs, promoting overall structural balance.

This exercise is also a key solution for hockey-related hip mobility issues. Players often develop tight hip flexors due to their posture during games, leading to various problems like hip pain and compromised skating mechanics.

However, the Bulgarian Split Squat’s unique motion helps loosen tight hips, strengthens glutes and groin for better strides, and enhances ankle mobility for improved skating.

While squatting is part of my training programs, the versatility and comprehensive benefits of the Bulgarian Split Squat make it an outstanding choice for addressing multiple hockey-specific fitness aspects simultaneously.

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