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Why You Need A Hockey Butt

 Star Factory Fitness

hockey butt

Just to be clear right off the hop, just because you play hockey doesn’t mean you have hockey butt. This is a physical quality that the majority of the elite players possess and it gives these players a huge advantage when they’re on the ice.

Hockey butt, without getting into too much distasteful detail, is what a hockey player has when they have well-developed and powerful glutes. These are your rear-end muscles, just below your lower back, that provide the body with enormous amounts of power when skating and are also active stabilizers when holding off defenders or battling for pucks in the corner.

Developing powerful glutes, or hockey butt, is tremendously important for you as a player. The glutes are involved in a number of movements that are important to hockey players, like hip extension, hip hyperextension, abduction (leg moving lateral from the body) and hip external rotation (think of pushing off the toe of your skate, your hip externally rotates).

All of the previous mentioned movements are involved in skating, one way or another, so they should be taken seriously when thinking about a training plan. But the glutes are a little trickier than you may think, and the normal exercises that you thought activated your glutes the most, probably don’t.

I’ve been taking a look at some of Bret Contreras’ articles lately, as he’s “The Glute Guy” in the fitness industry, and some of the research he’s done and presented in his articles has a lot of carryover into the hockey training world. As much as I feel exercises like traditional squats and deadlifts are HUGELY important to developing lower body strength and power, the glutes actually aren’t as actively involved in these exercises as I once thought.

Take a look at this chart of various squats and the percentage of glute activation and you may be surprised, like I was, to see that a full squat doesn’t involve as much glute activation as a number of squat variations, especially a kneeling squat.


Now, if you think of the hip, it’s main two movements in generating power for skating are hip extension and hip hyperextension. Extension at the hips is involved in exercises that have vertical force vectors like box jumps, squats, and deadlifts. Hip hyperextension is involved in exercises with more horizontal force vectors like sprinting, hip thrusts, and pull-throughs. What’s cool about some of the findings from Bret is that sprinting activates the glutes 234% more than that of a vertical jump. This I think is a huge takeaway when it comes to hockey because skating is more closely related to sprinting in its horizontal vector than it is to jumping.

Some takeaways from this “glute research”:

1. Skating involves the glutes in a huge way because of the movements they’re responsible for in the human body.

2. The glutes are worked in two different ways, with horizontal force vectors (sprints) and vertical force vectors (box jumps).

3. The glutes are more actively involved in sprints (horizontal) than in jumps (vertical).

With all that in mind, here’s a few things to try in your workouts to gain that hockey butt that you see players like Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf hauling around:

1. Kneeling Squat

It’s recommended that you don’t do this exercise that often. Once or twice over a 4-5 week phase would seem reasonable.


2. Sprint

hockey butt
The earlier phases of the off-season might not involve as much sprinting as later in the off-season but the carryover to hockey can be huge if you run sprints. My recommendation would be once a week with 4-5 sets of 15 yard sprints until mid-June where you’ll want to add in a second sprinting session each week.


3. Use Pull Throughs More Often

This exercise will help groom your hip hinge movement pattern along with activating your glutes with a horizontal force vector. Check out Eric Cressey performing the pull through.


4. Use Bridge Variations

Bridge variations, whether single legged or with both feet on the ground, are excellent ways to add glute activating exercises to your routines.


5. Keep Doing Squat and Deadlifts

This post definitely isn’t intended to tell you to stop doing the MONEY exercises like squats and deadlifts. It’s sole intension was to inform you about how important the glutes are in terms of their involvement in skating and how you can better zone in on developing them. I still believe that squats and deadlifts should be a huge part of your off-ice hockey program.


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