Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's the best exercise to do when you can't skate?

I'm going on week 1/ 1/2 with a broken hand (yes, the verdict is in: broken 5th metacarpal) and lamenting that I'm not going to be able to skate for several weeks, probably more. I had just opened a half hour time slot in my teaching schedule for some 'me time', and I decide to become a klutz instead! So what is one to do when they can't skate (because of schedule, timing, etc.), but want to stay in good skating shape?

There are several ways to keep your skating muscles in shape, and your cardiovascular endurance intact.  One terrific exercise tool is the slideboard, which will mimic a skating stride by using the same muscles as the stroking motion.  I'll goes as far to put my program music on and imitate the highs and lows of my program while on the slideboard.  For example, in a fast section with a lot of power and footwork, I slide at a high energy level, focusing on my quad and glute power.  In a slower 'rest' section, I will tone down my speed.  This is a form of interval training that I have found highly successful, alternating a few minutes on the slideboard with sets of plyometric exercises.  Skaters do not operate at one consistent heart rate throughout a program, so slideboard training can easily train the cardiovascular system to respond to quick changes in heart rate.

Another good exercise tool is a jump rope.  It's portable, inexpensive, and can elevate the heart rate relatively quickly.  Plus, there is a plyometric component to jump roping that is beneficial to training the lower extremity muscles.  A skater can also vary the intensity to train at high and low intervals, again to mimic a freestyle program.

A spinning bike is beneficial, as a skater can both sit and stand to vary the workload between muscle groups.  I tend to alternate between sitting and standing in 2 to 2 1/2 minute intervals, yet you can tailor your own workout to what maximizes your training.  Standing on a bike will give your glutes and hamstrings a better workout than sitting, as sitting mainly focuses on the quad muscles.

An elliptical machine is not my favorite piece of equipment, as I feel the machine assists the workout too much.  It is very easy to coast through a workout with the natural motion of the machine, instead of using  your own muscle power to push through a stride.  Also, an elliptical does not allow you to go through the complete range of motion of the hip into extension.  If done too much or too often, using an elliptical can make the hip flexors too tight, possibly affecting the knee and back.

Functional exercise is always the way to go when doing non-cardio exercise.  This includes exercises that involve resisting your own body weight, single leg stability, and various equipment such as stability and medicine balls, sport cords, balance discs, and sliding discs.  Plyometric exercise should also be included in your workout to keep your fast twitch muscle fibers fresh and ready for jumping  Feel free to visit our youtube channel for exercise demos at

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