Should Hockey Players Bench Press? Beginners Read This First!

Are you working on developing your hockey game?

Well, one of the best ways to do that is by incorporating off-ice training.

This includes stickhandling, cardio, and yes—weight training.

One of the most common questions about weight training is whether or not you should incorporate bench press into your routine.

In this article, you’ll learn whether you should bench press as a hockey player… or, if it’ll hurt your game.

And, if you’re really dedicated to taking your hockey fitness to the next level, you’ll also want to check out our top fitness trackers for hockey.

Let’s dive right in.

Here’s Whether Hockey Players Should Bench Press:

Bench press isn’t the best workout for hockey players. However, if you don’t have much muscle mass, and you’re wanting to improve your overall strength, it can be a great way to get stronger on the puck and when you’re battling along the boards.

Why Shouldn’t Hockey Players Bench Press?

So, you’re looking to improve your game by incorporating strength workouts.

But… you’re not sure whether to bench press?

Well, here are 3 reasons why you may not want to bench press:

1. It’s A Relatively Easy Workout

You may be surprised to hear this… but bench press isn’t a complicated or difficult workout.

It’s actually quite easy. All you’re really doing is lying on your back and pressing towards the sky.

Pushing away a barbell from your chest to a locked position is relatively easy for the body to perform. Compared to other workouts like compound exercises, it actually doesn’t involve too many muscles. 

2. It May Make You Look Better—But, Not Much More Than That

One of the main reasons bench press is so popular is because it’s one of the best exercises to sculpt your body so it looks better.

This is deceiving since you may think that because you look stronger that you will perform at a higher level physically on the ice. But, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are many athletes—even hockey players—who incorporate bench press but the reality is many are more interested in how good they look at the beach rather than being a better hockey player.

3. It Builds Up Non-Hockey Muscles

The third reason you may not want to focus on bench press throughout the week is that it isn’t building up hockey-specific muscles.

Bench press primarily builds up your pec muscles, as well as your triceps and front delts (shoulders).

While these can be somewhat beneficial to build up, they aren’t key muscle groups you necessarily need to target for hockey.

Instead, you should focus on building up these muscles:

  • Quadriceps
  • Adductors
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

You’ll notice that none of these include upper body workouts.

In fact, these are only lower body muscle groups. That’s because the most critical muscle groups for hockey are all below the belt.

This doesn’t mean you can’t work on your upper body. There’s still some benefit.

However, if you’re going to build an off-ice workout routine, you need to apply the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule states that in anything in life (not just anatomy), 20% of the parts will produce 80% of the results.

This means 80% of your workouts should be working on the 20% of your muscles that are primarily benefiting your hockey performance. This means your lower body.

You need to keep in mind that bench press won’t necessarily hurt your hockey game. It’s okay to do it once a week or so. But, you should remember that there are far more important workouts you should be doing rather than doing bench press 3-4 times a week.

Check out this video below which explains a bit more on whether or not you should bench press as a hockey player:

Should You Workout Your Upper Body for Hockey?

You may be wondering… should I only workout my lower body?

Or, can I workout my upper body at all?

The truth is, you should still work on your upper body throughout the week. It just doesn’t make sense to focus most of your off-ice training efforts on it.

When working on your upper body, you should focus primarily on your back—specifically your lower back muscles. 

And yes, you can also work on your biceps, but you should also incorporate forearm workouts. Think about your shot. A lot of the power is actually coming from your forearms and biceps.

By incorporating some forearm and bicep workouts, you’ll be able to build up the strength to have a harder shot with a quicker release.

Want a bonus workout for your shot and your stickhandling?

Work on your hand grip! Pick up some grip strengthened and during downtime when you’re watching your favorite NHL team or scrolling through YouTube, just get in some reps. It’s incredible what a difference improving your grip strength can do for you on the ice.

Do NHL Players Bench Press?

So, the magic question is…

What about NHL Players? Do they bench press?

Yes, they do. In fact, here’s a video of Auston Matthews at the 2016 NHL Combine on the bench press (around the 40 second mark):

But… for an elite athlete who went #1 overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft, you’d think he’d have much bigger arms.

This is because hockey players don’t primarily work on maximizing their upper body strength. They focus, instead, on their lower body which is where they get the power from for their stride.

Curious to know more answers to the most common hockey questions? Be sure to check out our other popular blog posts: What Hockey League Pays the Most, How Do Shifts Work in Hockey, and Is Ice Hockey Hard to Learn? (Plus How to Speed Up the Process)


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