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3 Activation/Pre-Hab Exercises to Strengthen the Muscles Around Your Knees | Hockey Training Tips with Jeff LoVecchio

Brought to you by retired pro hockey player and owner of Ript Hockey Training and partner of the Hockey Think Tank, Jeff LoVecchio.

Hockey is one of the fastest and most intense sports on earth and because of this, there can be a lot of torque placed on your joints. Therefore, it is CRITICAL to strengthen the muscles around your knees.

Today I am giving you 3 simple knee exercises that can be performed anywhere, as part of your warm-up for practice or games or part of your activation and pre-hab in the gym! 

Level 1

Grab a foam roller.  We’re going to start in a tall seated position. Start by placing one leg over the foam roller so that it is directly under your knee.

To begin this exercise you will pull your toes to your face, then straighten your leg by engaging your quads. Once your quads are engaged I want you to pause for one second.  

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Next, I want you to imagine lifting your knee towards the ceiling from those muscles directly above your knee. Make sure to keep your leg straight! I only want you lifting your leg 6 inches above the roller (NO HIGHER).  

I want you to pause again while your leg is in the air and then slowly and under control lower your leg back to the roller (quads engaged the entire time). Finally, you will bring your heel back to the ground where the beginning of the exercise started, relax for an instant, and repeat. 

Level 2

This is called a terminal knee extension.

You’ll need a band of light-ish to medium tension and somewhere to anchor your band. Make sure you anchor your band to a fixed object, not something that could fall/tip over!  

Place the band around the back of your working knee, take a few steps back so the band has the desired tension on it. Next, place the working leg’s toes right next to the grounded legs heel. This is your starting position for this exercise.

As you see in the video, you will start with your knee bent (minimal tension on the band). Next, you will drive your heel into the ground by straightening your leg from your quad muscles! Hit a slight pause while the quads are contracted and then gently bend the knee back to the starting position with your heel raised.

For this exercise, we aren’t looking to have you grab the heaviest band in the gym and battle through rep after rep. You should feel your quads working but it should by no means be hard enough that you are struggling to get each rep.

Level 3

I call this the Bear Plank Terminal Knee Extension.

Very similar mechanics to the previous exercise with the main differences being: you’re working both legs at the same time and you are in a bear plank instead of standing straight up.

To start, you will need a band with light tension. Watch the video and begin by inserting your thumbs into the band. Pull the band apart and step over it so that the band is resting behind your knees – drop down to your knees with your hands on the floor in front of you so that you are starting in a bear plank.

From here, focus on keeping your back flat and drive your heels to the ground by flexing your quads and driving your legs into a straightened position (you will finish in a downward dog position).

Because the band is behind your knees, your quads will have to be engaged and stay engaged for your legs to fully straighten. After a slight pause and under control, bend and drop your knees back to the floor to return to the starting position (the bear plank). 

Find more great hockey training tips and insights from Jeff LoVecchio at RIPT Hockey and the Hockey Think Tank website, Podcast, YouTube, and Facebook. And check out his Give More Be More (GMBM) apparel.

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