Primary Muscles Used In Hockey (Not Just Legs)

Posted on February 6, 2020 by Dan Kent
hockey muscles

The sport of hockey engages your full body in an intense workout. But are you interested in knowing which parts of your body are put to work the most when you’re playing hockey? Maybe you’re curious about which muscles you should be training to improve your on-ice performance? We’ve got you covered with a guide that breaks down muscle usage in hockey.

Hockey is first and foremost a lower-body and core muscle workout because skating is the main component of the sport. In your lower-body, skating primarily uses the glutes, quadriceps, adductors, and hamstrings. In-game movement and action will also require you to use your core muscles, while shooting and passing the puck relies on your arm muscles.

Think Hockey Motions And Muscles

Think about your body in motion when you’re skating on the ice.

Every time you take a stride, you are using many muscles and joints up and down your legs. You are also relying on core strength to maintain balance and generate skating power.

Your arms are also in a controlled swinging motion while skating. Add in a puck and a shot, and you’re also relying on arm strength in addition to your core and lower-body skating work.

Overall, skating is a rather complex system of movements and muscles. Players who are new to the sport and skating may find that they use muscles they don’t commonly use in day-to-day life or other exercises.

The Primary Lower-body Muscles

Skating activates many muscles in your lower-body from your hips down to your ankles and feet.

With every skating stride, you are generating power with your quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and adductors (inner thigh muscles).

When you extend your leg back with each stride, you’re also using your glutes to push through. This pushing motion also relies on the hamstrings.

Training with exercises designed for these lower-body muscles can increase your skating strength and speed. But be sure to pair that exercise with proper skating form and technique for the best results.

hockey calories

The Core And Upper-body Muscles

The core muscles are an underappreciated component of playing hockey. Skating motion actually starts and stops with the core, which offers stability, balance, and power.

Primary core muscles used in skating include the oblique muscles and the rectus abdominis.

Though your arms are also in-motion while skating, their muscles directly contribute little to the skating process.

But you do use your forearm muscles and biceps when you take wrist shots and slapshots.

Arm workouts can strengthen your shooting. But again, make sure that you use a sound technique when you shoot the puck.

Don’t simply try to power the puck on the net with your muscles. Let the stick do some of the work too.

Upper-body strength can be useful for taking faceoffs and winning puck battles. It also assists with securing body position on the ice, such as a net-front presence.

Should You Work Out The Upper Or Lower-body For Hockey?

If you’re interested in off-ice workouts to improve your hockey abilities, you should focus on the lower-body and core muscle exercises.

hockey player

These muscles drive your skating ability and balance, which are difficult to compensate for if you lack them.

Upper-body muscles are still important in hockey, but committing to workouts for muscles above the core can only marginally impact your skating ability.

Increasing your arm strength can enhance your shooting power, but this should probably come as a secondary concern for your hockey workout regimen – especially if you’re still learning to play.

The primary muscles you use in hockey are located in your lower-body and core. Muscles like the quadriceps, adductors, glutes, and hamstrings drive your every stride on the ice.

Core muscles also maintain your skating balance and motion. Upper-body muscles come into play in the sport as well, but their role is secondary to that of the core and lower-body. 

Let’s Recap

Hockey shifts are short and fast – requiring incredible amounts of endurance and power – through a mix of anaerobic and aerobic movement.

All this energy requires plenty of calories to be consumed, along with great muscular strength and coordination. The more you train the better your play.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada,

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