5 Off-Ice Exercises for Becoming a Better Brusher 720 405 Stephanie Thompson

How to become a stronger brusher off the ice?

Many factors come into play; including movement efficiency and tissue health, the ability to create, resist and transfer tension and force throughout the body, work capacity and time to practice in season. But in my experience the #1 struggle for most curlers is comfort over the brush; regardless of position. This comes with practice, and using your time off-ice in order to get stronger to be able to manage the brushing position shot after after. In this podcast episode I outline 5 of my fave exercises for becoming stronger and fitter so that you can increase your comfort and confidence on the brush in the fall. 2 are obvious and then I chose 3 slightly unconventional exercises to make you a more well-rounded athlete. Need more? (how about a program and empowering webinar recording?) Check out the links for the beginner and advanced level Better Brushing program that you and your team can complete before stepping back on the ice.    I dive into deeper detail below in Episode 34; however, you’ll want the exercise video links for a better walk through of how to properly execute each exercise.  

The 2 obvious exercises are pushups and rows.

  Here’s why:  


Video link I love these for a multitude of reasons:
  • Practice creating full body tension 
  • Demonstrates upper body health, strength and endurance
  • Stress on wrists to prepare for brushing
  • Many beginner, advanced and power variation options
  How to get the most out of them: 
  • 2 things:
    • Make your body look like an A. Not a small letter t or an I. The A position better represents the position your arms are in while brushing; regardless of open or closed
    • Photo of body like an A (see below)
    • Posture matters; choose a height of your hands (see “no more girl pushups”) that you can keep a straight body; meaning your head doesn’t drop, your ribs don’t, flair and your pelvis doesn’t dump forward. If you image yourself brushing, your hands are not floor level, so raising your arms to practice the technique is not a step back. 
    • Pushup posture example
Photo from here. How To Do Your First Push Up — Strong Made Simple, San Diego Personal  Trainer


Any variation, but we’ll use the single arm bent row today for an example. Video link   I love these for a multitude of reasons:
  • Single arm pulling motion mimics the top arm in a brush stroke
  • Bottom arm stabilizes and coordinates with lats (back muscles) and core (anterior trunk muscles)
  • Strength and endurance as well as grip strength
  How to get the most out of them:
  • Setup is important: I prefer a position that allows you to practice using the stabilizing leg to push your body over your front arm
  • Maintain a solid stack through the trunk with similar posture notes as required for pushups; keeping head from dropping, ribs from flaring and pelvis from dumping forward. 
  • Many setup and and pull straight up. Their weight travels on a vertical trajectory. With brushing, our pull stoke is not straight up (and this really just isnt efficient when it comes to maximizing the muscles). Aim to pull back, starting with your weight in line with opposite wrist, and pull on an angle towards your side pockets.

Here are 3 unconventional exercises and why I love and program them:


Lat press downs

Video link I love these for a multitude of reasons:
  • Lets talk about the role of the bottom arm in brushing. It’s primary role (in my educated experience) is to maintain downward pressure and force regardless if you are pushing or pulling on the broom. (listen to the episode for an deep diveinto why the lats matter) The way the lats attach help bring the humerus bone closer to the body. So imagine this, you’re top arm is moving in a rowing motion, and your bottom arm has more of an up and down. We can train this off the ice using exercises that focus on the lats. Chin-ups and lat pull downs are great, but the last press down allows us to hinge at the hips and coordinate all the core muscles on front and back, and the muscles that move and stabilize the shoulder blades. 
Latissimus dorsi muscle: (link) The Latissimus Dorsi Muscle, Its Attachments and Actions - Yoganatomy How to get the most out of them:
  • Can you maintain your core stability, avoid shrugging your shoulders to your ears and press down to bring the band or cable towards your hips? 

Farmer carries

Video link I love these for a multitude of reasons:
  • Grip strength and to practice creating tension throughout the arms, shoulders and trunk
  • Posture practice 
  • Strength and endurance 
  • Don’t need a gym … go help your loved ones carry in the groceries or carry your duffel bags to the car in one trip!
How to get the most out of them:
  • It’s not just about getting the heaviest weight possible and mindlessly carrying them through the gym. You need a good solid grip on whatever weight you choose, a slight shrug of the shoulders, and to practice breathing into ribcage while keeping the core stable. Bonus points if you can figure out how to do this without clenching the butt cheeks together and standing strong through the legs and feet.
  • You can hold the weights in one spot and breathe, march on the spot, walk a specific distance or for max time, and even use the stairs or an incline for an extra challenge.

Battle ropes

Video link I love these for a multitude of reasons:
  • Most cardio we choose is leg focused. I do love sprinting for curling, but there’s something about being able to do anaerobic intervals with the muscles and joints you need for brushing.
  • Grip strength, endurance and again practicing maintaining a solid posture and track through the core.
How to get the most out of them:
  • Similar to farmer carry keep a firm grip on the handles and a good posture
  • They are a great way to make sure it is the big muscles in the back and arms initiating the movement, not just the little stabilizers or worse … your traps (upper shoulders). Can you invite those big lat muscles to the party (considering the down smack of a battle rope is similar motion to the lat press without the hinge and its single arm)
  • Practice better breathing; in and out your nose as much as possible, with controlled strong exhales to facilitate more core activation.
  • You can go for endurance; 2-5 minutes a set, or slowly decreasing the length of your intervals but increase the intensity and amount of rest to better compare to a brushing bout
  • And if you don’t have a rope of your own, I had a client one year use an old water hose that he wrapped around a tree. He duct taped some handles and voila, homemade battle rope!
Lats vs Traps (link): Latissimus Dorsi Muscle - Physiopedia   There you have it. You could put all 5 of these exercises into one wicked brushing strength focused workout, or spread them out through the week. I’d love to hear what your fave brushing exercises are. Would you add or exchange anything in this list? Send an email or dm on socials.   Take care,   Coach Steph Resources

Providing tools & education to move better & improve performance. Proudly Canadian.

Back to top

5 Off-Ice Exercises for Becoming a Better Brusher

Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson


R.Kin, B.Ed, CSEP-CPT, Competition Development Coach in training, 200 RYT in training
On & Off Ice rehab & performance training. Providing tools and education to move better & play better.

Sharing is Caring

Tell me what you think!