The quick answer is yes hockey players should include the bench press in their hockey weight training, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near the top focus for anyone looking to get better on the ice.
The bench press is probably the most over hyped exercise in the gym, especially in teenagers for some reason. It seems as it is an ego thing for most guys – who can bench press more. If you really want to compare upper body strength test out your pull ups (palms facing away).
Now don’t get me wrong, the bench press is an important upper body exercise for hockey players – but there are a variety of different ways to work it into your workout, and hockey players need to stray away from always doing the barbell bench press that most men do in the gym.
For functional strength that will help you improve on the ice you need to mix up your chest press movements.
For one, your focus should be on using dumbells a lot more than barbells for the bench press. This will workout any imbalances in your upper body, directly helping your functional strength. Another option is to incorporate alternating dumbell presses into your dumbell bench press movements – this helps work your core and other stabilizers.
Try doing your dumbell bench press workout on a stability ball, which will even further help work your core and entire body at the same time as working your chest and upper body.
You could also include some explosive chest movements instead of the traditional barbell bench press. Try doing some plyometric clap pushups.
All of the alternatives to the traditional barbell bench press listed above are a lot more hockey specific, and should be used by anyone training for hockey and upper body strength.
I am not saying you need to stay completely clear of the barbell bench press if you’re a hockey player, especially because it is included in upper body strength tests at hockey combines, but it shouldn’t be your priority.
If you are training for a hockey combine where you will be tested on your 135 or 185 pound bench press you can gear your workouts towards the barbell as you get closer to the testing. With that said dumbell bench pressing will actually improve your barbell bench quite a bit, so don’t steer completely clear from it.
To sum it up – Yes the bench press is an important upper body strength exercise for hockey players, but use the variations we talked about in the article to make your gains specific to improving on the ice.