Skater Deadlift – Improve Your Stride Power

I’ve been training hockey players for over ten years now. 

During this time, thousands of hockey players have performed my warm-ups, workouts, and cool-downs to achieve elite sport-specific results in game-day performance. From the youth leagues all the way up to the NHL, I’ve trained ’em all. 

When you collect this much experience and data collection in a single craft, you come across several truths in performance training that other coaches and athletes don’t understand yet—and that aren’t even found in scientific literature. 

You’re going to leave here today with insight that has taken me many years to master, and learn about a hockey-specific exercise I invented myself to take your explosive speed to the next level.   

Let’s get into it.

Mechanical Efficiency in Hockey 

Any coach worth the money you’re paying them will tell you that efficiency of movement is one of the prime metrics to improve for optimal on-ice performance. 

The problem is that it’s incredibly difficult to measure efficiency accurately, let alone achieve a scientific consensus on what defines it. 

There is some objectivity in this conversation though. Something known as mechanical efficiency can be measured accurately and has been demonstrated to achieve major performance outcomes when leveraged properly. 

For example, picture two cyclists racing in the Tour de France who are both going the exact same speed. However, one of them is wearing an aerodynamic skinsuit while the other is just wearing normal clothes. 

The cyclist wearing normal clothes is going to expend a significant amount more energy throughout the race to maintain the same speed as the cyclist wearing the skinsuit. This is mechanical efficiency. The athlete who isn’t wearing a skinsuit is at an extreme disadvantage, because he needs to burn much more energy per unit of distance traveled to achieve the same output as the skinsuit-wearing cyclist.

The evolution of hockey equipment and stick modifications are great examples of mechanically improving on-ice efficiency—as are the various environmental components that minimize ice friction and air friction while maximizing energy transfer, such as keeping a low posture, positioning your body on top of your support leg to maximize the push-off phase, achieving full extension in stride length without any ice drag, and having sharp blades.     

Movement Efficiency in Hockey

In addition to mechanical efficiency, how a hockey player moves to generate athletic solutions to on-ice performance is a prime key performance indicator (KPI) in elite hockey strength and conditioning practice. 

This is very difficult to measure due to the many variables involved. For example, if you view the top 10 strongest powerlifters in the world, you will see they all have slightly different ways in which they execute the bench press, squat, and deadlift. There is no “one size fits all” in these three lifts, even at the world-class level. 

Now consider how much more complex skating and puck handling are at a world-class level than basic powerlifting movements. The varying degree of leverage and compensations could be endless, and the uniqueness at which one hockey player compensates may be the competitive skill that they are expressing to allow them to separate themselves from the pack. 

Not to mention that hockey IQ, reaction time, skill level, past/current injuries, and fatigue all play critical roles in a hockey player’s ability to rapidly adapt in a game setting to meet the demands that particular shift throws at them. 

I firmly believe that in order to truly optimize hockey performance efficiency, you need to train in a way that increases hockey-specific movement adaptability, which can be viewed as your capacity to compensate in an efficient way to the natural variability that exists in a game setting. 

Instantaneously developing movement solutions in a high-pace game is left only to the most elite hockey players who have learned how to become efficient in their edge work and puck handling under any circumstance, no matter how much pressure is being put on them. 

Creating a Biomechanical Dryland Advantage 

The term “biomechanics” is defined as the study of the physical mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms.

For hockey players, seeking a biomechanical advantage means using the laws of sports science to your advantage to create the strongest degree of transfer from a dryland to an on-ice performance setting. 

The topic of hockey-specific biomechanics is highly complicated and is something I go over in detail within the Certified Hockey Training Specialist course, but they are essential for any player (and especially coaches) to understand, as they are a key driver of hockey-specific movement efficiency. 

Many factors influence our biomechanics; however, two readily trainable components are movement-specific muscular force production and velocity. You can think of force as your muscular “horsepower” and velocity as your “accelerator.” 

For example, a Mack Truck may have an impressive horsepower, but the velocity at which it is able to get to top speed is extremely slow due to its acceleration. Conversely, a Honda Civic has a very low amount of horsepower relative to the truck, yet it would smoke a semi-truck in any race due to its acceleration-velocity capabilities.

Training both the force potential and velocity potential of a skating stride in the unique joint angles you’re exposed to out on the ice would be a proper use of the SAID training principle, which utilizes movement patterns to generate a Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. In this case, becoming a blazing fast skater.  

This is the peak of hockey-specific training, as it won’t make you a better runner, but it will make you more explosive on the ice than ever before. 

Enter: the skater deadlift.

Skater Deadlift: The Ultimate Hockey Exercise

To properly uncover why the invention of the skater deadlift should be a new future staple in hockey performance exercise selection, let’s compare the movement pattern to your typical squat with respect to hip and knee joint angle activity and how they stack up to skating mechanics.

The typical squat has a very vertical movement pattern with the feet positioned flat on the floor. This is excellent for maximal loading, but with respect to hockey-specific joint angles for skating force/velocity, the degree of transfer doesn’t compare. 

On the other hand, the skater deadlift:

  • Has the rear leg back at a 45-degree angle, just as you would be in stride
  • Has the foot in eversion at a 45-degree angle, just as you would be in your skate
  • Loads the quadriceps, groin, glutes, hamstrings, and surrounding hip/knee joint structures in the same pattern as a powerful stride 
  • Has your front leg planted and stabilizing the movement pattern, just as you would be during skating 
  • Activates and trains your posture in a hockey-specific way due to the anterior dumbbell loading and skating movement pattern
  • Allows you to safely and effectively add load to an otherwise difficult-to-strength-train movement pattern  
  • Develops muscle power and rate of force development capacity specific to the biomechanics of skating

The skater deadlift is an exercise that reflects the joint angle, joint angular velocity, and direction of force application required for skating at an elite level. 

The best part?

It’s adaptable in it’s application, as you can choose to load it heavy to train propulsion potential (i.e. horsepower) or load it lightly and/or plyometrically to train velocity potential (i.e. accelerator). 

With that said, I’d like to backpedal a bit because I know some of you who don’t follow my full hockey training programs might now think I hate the squat. 

I don’t—and anybody who runs my programs will tell you that I frequently program squats, as they have major value for hockey performance as well. It’s never “this or that;” it’s about choosing the right tool for the right job.

Squatting lies further on the spectrum of general physical preparation (GPP), whereas the skater deadlift lies on the opposite end within specific physical preparation (SPP).

Skater Deadlift Variations

Here are some of my favorite variations you can use in your program design to generate elite levels of hockey-specific force and velocity potential in skating: 

DB Skater Deadlift on Slant Board
DB Skater Deadlift
Offset DB Skater Deadlift on Slant Board
Offset DB Skater Deadlift
Rebound Skater Deadlift Lunges on Slant Board
Rebound Skater Deadlift Lunges
DB Overhead Skater Deadlift
BW Overhead Skater Deadlift

Are You Ready?

I’ve made a transformation from being a hockey trainer to being a coach that’s turned his methods into an explosive speed factory. 

Average athletes come in, are pushed through the production line, and emerge as more confident, explosive, and dominant hockey players. 

This off-season, you have the opportunity to feel that explosiveness for yourself. 

My only question for you is: are you ready? 

Most hockey players will tell you they want to achieve their hockey dreams, but deep down, they know they’re not willing to put in the effort required to become great.

They’re comfortable blaming their genetics and trying to piece together random articles and videos to make a free hockey training routine.

You can tell this by their actions too. Instead of working with a coach and leveraging their experience, they lie in bed on Instagram and engage with hockey marketing material rather than true hockey program design. 

If you can relate to this, The Off-Season Domination ‘22 program isn’t right for you. 

However, if you’re ready to tackle this off-season like a true professional and develop unstoppable speed and undeniable confidence, then the Off-Season Domination ‘22 system is the exact answer you have been looking for. 

This is the most scientifically advanced off-season hockey program available. If you said “yes” to my readiness question, then I’ll see you on the inside. 

Final Thoughts

My intention today was to open your eyes to how deep the world of hockey-specific movement efficiency is and offer you a new exercise to begin leveraging that concept in your own training. 

The job of dryland training is to create a system that allows for a higher degree of propulsion for less overall energy consumption. 

What you train and how you move determines your instantaneous ability to create efficient movement solutions in unpredictable high-pace environments such as a game. 

Optimizing muscular force and velocity with special consideration for hockey-specific joint angle activity will be the key that separates you from the pack this year. 

If you want to take the guesswork out of it and use this type of programming immediately to get fast results, join the team now and let’s go! 

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