DISCLAIMER: I’m not a personal trainer, nor am I saying I am. This is just what I’m doing on top of my own skating. Most of this is science based (graduating at the end of the year) and based on my own experience. Please contact your doctor/physio someone qualified before starting a new exercise regime.
For the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my workouts with you. They will be an example of the sort of thing I’m doing at the moment so if you’re a beginner or you’ve never been to the gym before, I would definitely get some help with learning the proper form for all new exercises and starting really light. I would also check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regime especially if you have diabetes, are over weight, smoke, any chronic illness or have an injury.
For new exercises, I make sure to YouTube how to do it or ask one of the trainers at the gym to help me. Another useful tool to use is the mirrors! Believe it or not, they’re not just there to check yourself out while you workout! I check my form all the time on them to avoid injuries.
Today I’m going to talk you through how I like to structure my programmes.
At the moment, I’m concentrating a lot on building strength. I’m doing hardly any cardio (hiit maybe once or twice a week. Check previous post on how to do this), I’m skating twice or 3 times a week and I’m trying to lift heavy at least 4 times a week. My goal for the next little while is to get strong (for example, I really want to hit 80kg back squat by the end of the year. I’m at 60kg at the moment). It is the same goal I have after every competition. This is the time to settle into new dances, make up new style/free dances and nail the new steps. It’s kind of the “building blocks phase” with not much emphasis on aerobic fitness.
General aerobic fitness +strength
The next phase is where I build general aerobic fitness. I will probably be skating more by the time I hit this phase. This is the time where you’ve finished your programmes, you’re starting to get confident in your new content but you feel like you’re struggling when you get near the end of the programmes. After focusing for so long on strength, you get aerobically unfit pretty fast! What I like to do is start off with a few weeks of steady state cardio (no more than 20min on the bike 2-3 times a week + skating training) and then move on to some interval based training. Remember that when you’re on skates, this counts as interval training (as long as you don’t sit around doing nothing for too long) so you can’t follow usual guidelines of trying to do hiit 3 times a week if you’re also skating 3 times a week. If you’re still going to do strength training during this time (which I do) that would leave you absolutely exhausted and do the opposite of helping your skating. Remember, the gym/off skate training is there to enhance your skating. Not make it worse. I would aim to do 3-4 interval sessions total (including your skating) plus 3-4 strength training sessions concentrating on all major body groups and maintaining/building on the strength you built before this. This phase is just to prepare you for what comes next… Which is the hardest stage of training (in my opinion)
Power + specific sport related exercise
This is where I do my plyometric work to develop power. For this you need strength and anaerobic fitness (interval training-start stop type stuff). This is the phase where you get fast and jump higher. It is the most specific to skating. This involves jump lunges, sprints, box jumps, squat jumps, plyo push ups, off skate jumps (although you can be doing these right from the start if you’re a free skater- give the other gym goers a show) or lifting lighter than usual weights at a faster pace. It is important that prior to this type of training that you build a base of strength and anaerobic fitness in order to get through power workouts.
People often forget this even though it’s the most important! 2-3 weeks prior to competition you should reduce the VOLUME of your training (less training sessions) but keep the intensity as high as your last phase. So if you followed this type of programme, you would keep doing power/plyo training and back to back routines but maybe skate only 2-3 times a week. Keep the intensity high, for less amount of time. I like to take 2-3 days completely off before travelling to competition and concentrate on stretching and breathing/mental practise.
So here’s a summary of what a programme would include (I have the luxury of a long break so I can come back stronger than ever. Time lines are only a rough guide):
Strength training phase
3-4+ months prior to competition
4-5times a week 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps – You should fail on the last rep
1-3 cardio sessions including skating
General aerobic fitness + strength
2-3 months prior
3-4 sets of 8-12 reps – Weight should make you fail on the last rep
Add in 2-3 extra general cardio sessions on top of skating
1-2 hiit sessions (on or off skates)
Power + specific sport related exercise
1-2 months prior
2-3 power/plyo sessions a week
1-2 strength sessions a week
3-4 skating sessions
(depends on what you built up to in previous phase. Weights should stay the same. Don’t start anything new)
2-3 skating sessions (high intensity)
As you can see, most of the work is happening 2-3 months prior to competitions. This is the ideal but not always possible. There are a million ways to structure programmes. This is the way I’ve chose to structure mine this time because of all the time I have on my hands. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it any other way. Different trainers will have different techniques/philosophies/experiences. Trainers learn through trial and error. I haven’t always kept to this because sometimes life happens and this isn’t realistic. Sometimes I skip phases or I don’t even have phases and just do whatever. Sometimes I only skate and that’s it!
What I’m trying to say is this is only 1 way out of a million ways to train for skating. Maybe this isn’t even the best but this is what I’m going to follow for now based on what I’ve learnt from ice skating books, my sport science degree and my own experience.
Next week I’ll be sharing a workout with you so look out for that!