Joel Jackson’s Corner: The 5 Best At-Home Exercises

Whether you are a pro or just a young player trying to make their way up the ranks you are going to have other demands in your life outside of training. Sometimes work, fun, or family gets in the way and we are left with little precious time for the gym. Instead of skipping the workout you had planned, why not crush one out in the comfort of your own home? Here are five exercises along with some variations that will give you the most bang for your buck without much need for equipment.


Many of the old school fitness professionals will say that squats are king and they are certainly onto something! When doing bilateral squats (both feet on the ground) you should focus on a few key cues. Good posture: Always keep your back flat and your chest up. Full range of motion: This will depend on your flexibility and mobility, but try to start by pushing your knees over top of your toes until you feel your heels start to come up off the floor, then drop your hips towards the floor. Start by going until your thighs are parallel with the floor, if you feel that your form is still solid at that point then continue to go deeper on each rep. If you can go butt to ankles you are doing great! Two variations of squats to try are Prisoner Squats and Arms-Out Squats.

Single leg squatting is also a great option for a hockey player because it adds the element of balance and stability into the equation. A pistol squat is one single leg exercise that is excellent, but very difficult and quite challenging to master without external assistance. I find that the best way to try these for the first time is to use a door frame. Grab both sides of the door frame, plant one foot on the floor and fully extend the other leg directly in front of you then descend by bending at the hip, knee and ankle simultaneously. The more you rely on the door frame for balance the easier the exercise will be. Similar to the regular squats always try to go through a full range of motion. A couple other variation of single leg squats that I like are Bowler Squats, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats, and Skater Squats. There are also a number of lunging patterns that could fit in here as well including Walking Lunges, Lateral Lunges and Alternating Forward/Reverse Lunges.


When you think exercises you can do at home, push-ups are probably the first that comes to mind. It will depend on what variation you use, but this exercise is great for targeting the chest, triceps, and shoulders and if done properly, will foster good scapular positioning and help you avoid any shoulder injuries in the future. Here are some things to be mindful of when executing push-ups: Engage your abs and lower back in order to avoid having your hips sag down; When you get down to the bottom of the movement the angle between upper arm and torso should be about 45 degrees; And as with all exercises move through a full range of motion. Three variations of push-ups to try are Diamond Push-Ups, Tricep Push-Ups, and Spiderman Push-Ups.


Here is the only exercise that you may need some extra equipment for, but they are too important to leave out! The reason I say this is because too often people fall victim to the quote on quote “beach workouts” where they hit nothing but chest and biceps. This is fine if you want to make your shirt fit tighter on a Saturday night, but when you do too much upper body pressing and not enough pulling it will lead to rounded shoulders, bad posture and injuries. You can find a door frame chin-up bar at places like Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire for a reasonable price and if you want to get creative you can make your own by using some rafters in a basement or garage. For pull-ups, make sure you go through a full range of motion and concentrate on using the muscle in your back (lats) at the bottom of the movement. There are number of different grips that you can use for this exercise and each one will target the muscles in your back and biceps to different degrees. Here are a few pulling variations to try: Chin-Ups (hands shoulder width apart, palms facing you), Wide Grip Pull-Ups (hands 20-30 cm wider than shoulder width, palms facing away), Neutral Grip (palms facing each other, may need a specialized bar for this).

Planks & Core Work

Many people think that a strong core is demonstrated by having a chiselled six pack, but a strong core is demonstrated more by your ability to transfer force effectively from the lower body to the upper body (and vice versa) and resisting unwanted movement (battling for position in the corner or in front of the net). Another misconception is that the core only includes abs, but in fact it includes the muscle that surrounds the hips and pelvis, the muscle along our spinal column, and our abdominal muscles. For this reason, crunches and sit-ups are not the best way for an athlete to train their core, the better option is to do isometric exercises (holding a static position) or exercises where you are resisting rotation or extension.

The plank and its variations are great exercises for you to do at home that will target the core musculature. When executing a traditional plank focus on keeping the stomach and lower back braced which will allow you to keep a neutral spine (straight line from your heels to the back of your head). Some variations of the plank to try are Plank with Shoulder Taps, 3 Point Plank (arm/leg reach), Long Lever Plank and don’t forget to include the lateral component with Side Planks. If you want to try a more dynamic exercise that is similar to the plank try out the Inchworm!

Shuttle Running

Any training program is never complete without the right conditioning or what I like to call energy system development. The sport of hockey is characterized by 30-45 second shifts that involve high intensity exercise interspersed with periods of gliding. Based on the nature of the sport, your energy system development should include high intensity interval training. You can do interval training on a bike, running, in the pool or on pretty much any piece of exercise equipment you can think of, but one of the most convenient ways to get some good work in is to head to the closest grass field. All you need is a couple of water bottles (cones if you have them) to mark a 15m distance.

Below are two different examples of shuttle running workouts you can do on your own.

Shuttle Ladder

-Set up a 15m length. You will be running back and forth over this 15m length in order to complete the required distances in the workout.

Sprint 1 length (15m) – Rest 10 seconds

Sprint 2 lengths (30m) – Rest 10 second

Sprint 3 lengths (45m) – Rest 20 seconds

Sprint 4 lengths (60m) – Rest 20 seconds

Sprint 5 lengths (75m) – Rest 30 seconds

Sprint 6 lengths (90m) – Rest 3 minutes before repeating

-Repeat 3-6 times

45m Shuttles

-Set up a 15m length. You will be running back and forth over this 15m length in order to complete the required distances in the workout.

Sprint 3 lengths (45m) – Rest 45 seconds

-Repeat 10-15 times

As you can see you can always get a solid workout in no matter where you are! To give you some idea of how to throw it all together here is an example of a workout for you to try out. Remember you can always increase the set and reps/time if you want to challenge yourself. Bodyweight type workouts like these are a great way to supplement any training program you may be on. And remember, no ones ever regretted a work out, they’ve only regretted the work outs they’ve missed!

Arms Out Front Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)

Chin-Ups (3 sets of 8-10 reps)

Plank with Shoulder Taps (3 x 30 seconds)

Bowler Squats (3 sets of 10 reps/leg)

Push-Ups (3 sets of 15 reps) *Elevate feet onto a bench to increase difficulty

Side Plank (3 x 20 seconds/side)

45m Shuttle Runs (10 repeats)