With the Winter Olympics coming up, we’re always inspired by athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sport. Here in our own DC region, we’re cheering on speed skaters Thomas Hong of Laurel, Maryland and Maame Biney of Reston, Virginia.
Today we’ll take a look at what’s involved in speed skating – a fast, powerful race that involves strong legs and agility. You don’t need to go sliding across the ice at top speed – but you can mimic the workouts they do to maintain their tip-top shape.
Speed skaters have strong cores, strong leg muscles, flexibility, agility, balance, and great back strength, and a lot of this training occurs off the ice. Their workouts are toning and ice skating is a low-impact activity that can be done year-round thanks to indoor ice rinks. It’s also a good way to mix up workouts – speed skating requires a lot of cross-training, so your body doesn’t settle into one routine.
Cardiovascular. Speed skaters cycle, run, and swim, though they prefer to maintain a smaller upper body frame and more muscle in their lower body. Jump-roping is another great way to increase heart rate.
Plyometric exercises. Lunges, stairs, jumps, jump-roping, diagonal drills, hops, and similar moves are aimed at building speed and power. They also build agility.
Strength training. Speed skates essentially squat their way around the ice, so they are busy building thigh, hamstring and back strength. Try doing wall sits, squats, hamstring curls and leg lifts. While speed skaters don’t want weight in their upper body, they still work out the upper region with midline workouts, such as weighted planks and other core-strengthening exercises.
Balance. Yoga, standing on one leg, standing on a wobbly surface (such as a cushion) can help with your core and establish a better sense of balance.
Skating. Pull out the old rollerblades when the weather’s nice and the ice skates when it’s wintry. Focus on power more than speed (for safety reasons!), staying low to the ground, and aim for long strides.
If you think speed skating might be up your alley, check out your local rink for training and lessons!